Easier navigation and a new visually appealing home page are in store for visitors to THOMAS, the Library's Web site (thomas.loc.gov) that provides instant access to congressional information.
From the home page, searchers can browse the full text of a bill by word, phrase or number, or they can browse by sponsor. Users can learn what actions the House and Senate took yesterday in committees and on the floor of both houses, and how legislators voted in roll call votes. They can read resolutions, committee reports and the Congressional Record, and they can follow congressional actions on presidential nominations.
"The success of the Library of Congress' THOMAS Web site owes much to the vision of its founders – the leadership of the U.S. Congress," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "We look forward to continuing to make this Web site a vital resource for all Americans who want the latest information on the workings of the national legislature."
Released for use on Friday, Nov. 18., the updated THOMAS site includes these features:
- A revised home page that increases visual appeal. This new interface has the look and feel of several others that have recently been upgraded, such as the overall Library of Congress Web site home page, at www.loc.gov, and American Memory, the multimedia Web site that presents more than 10 million items of American history and culture. The revised look incorporates such persistent features as consistent headers and footers, as well as "breadcrumbs" that help users easily determine the path that leads from the home page to a page they are viewing.
- A menu on the left side of the home page that offers quick access to major sections of the site. This menu provides direct links to "Bills, Resolutions," "Congressional Record," "Government Resources" and information "For Teachers," among others. The new "For Teachers" link takes educators to lesson plans, classroom activities and primary sources that have been designed and chosen by the Library's educational specialists. These resources are age-appropriate and have been tested and used by teachers across the country.
- The ability to "browse" legislation by sponsor from the THOMAS home page.
- Links in presidential nomination records to Senate hearings.
- Links to related Library resources, such as the Law Library and webcasts of public affairs lectures and other events held at the Library.
- Links to the full texts of treaties from treaty records.
It is possible to search multiple Congresses simultaneously by clicking on a link from the main home page. This popular feature, available in the previous version of THOMAS, is now much easier to find on the THOMAS home page.
In addition, THOMAS offers historical information on previous congressional sessions.
The Library's Web specialists have made every effort to ensure that the new design is compliant with Section 508 and W3C accessibility guidelines. Older, legacy pages that the site may link to are in the process of being upgraded for compliance.
The original version of THOMAS was launched on Jan. 5, 1995. The leadership of the 104th Congress directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public.
Since that time, THOMAS has expanded the scope of its offerings to include the features and content requested by Congress on behalf of their constituents. This upgrade is part of the Library's continuing effort to add features to THOMAS that improve usability and offer new types of information.