Library of Congress redesigns THOMAS site

Friday - 9/24/2010, 5:34pm EDT

Robert Gee and Andrew Weber, Library of Congress

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The Library of Congress was at the forefront of the digital revolution by launching the website THOMAS in 1995. The site provides legislative information, from bill texts to voting results.

Now, 15 years later, THOMAS has gone through a major redesign.

Robert Gee, chief of LOC's law library public services, and Andrew Weber, LOC's legislative systems manager, joined DorobekINSIDER to discuss the site's new features.

Many of the changes came from users' feedback, Weber said.

The site now includes a bookmarking and sharing toolbar. On the homepage are links to stay connected to THOMAS on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and iTunes U, which offers recordings of LOC events.

Facebook and Twitter, in particular, have become an effective outreach tool "to connect with people who have questions about some of the content or items in THOMAS," Weber said.

The site currently gets 8-9 million page views a month, and users come from all parts of the country, not just the D.C. area, Gee said.

Now that LOC has a new, improved site, Gee said there is still a need to train people on how to use THOMAS. LOC recently held a webinar about best search practices on THOMAS.

People must have a certain level of familiarity with the legislative process in order to make the most use of THOMAS.

"Training people how to use Thomas, to be able to track legislation, is a goal that we have in mind," Gee said.