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Hack-to-Learn at the Library of Congress

When hosting workshops, such as Software Carpentry, or events, such as Collections As Data, our National Digital Initiatives team made a discovery—there is an appetite among librarians for hands-on computational experience. That’s why we created an inclusive hackathon, or a “hack-to-learn,” taking advantage of the skills librarians already have and pairing them with programmers to mine digital collections. Hack-to-Learn took place on May 16-17 in partnership with George Mason and George Washington University Libraries.

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Congress.gov 2017 Spring Cleaning: Download Search Results and Advanced Search Enhancements

Spring is a beautiful time of year in Washington, D.C. The temperature warms up; the cherry blossoms are out; and we frequently have an update of Congress.gov to share. In 2015 we added treaties and web-friendly bill text, and in 2016 we expanded the quick search feature. Today there is another round of enhancements to the Library of Congress website for tracking Congressional activity. The big new item in this release is the ability to download your search results to a CSV (comma separated values) file.

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Crowdsourcing at the Law Library of Congress

The Law Library acquired a large collection from William S. Hein & Co., Inc. to make all volumes of several collections (like the Federal Register) available in open access to researchers. Preparing these files by adding metadata for easy searching takes a lot of work, so this summer we asked law students and library students from across the country to help become our “crowd” in order to crowdsource metadata for a collection of 542 volumes of U.

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Law Library of Congress Implements Solution for Link and Reference Rot

Last fall, the Law Library of Congress implemented an external archiving solution for the problem of link and reference rot in its legal research reports. “Link rot” and “reference rot” (a.k.a. “content drift”) are the terms used to describe, respectively, the problem of non-working Web addresses and Web addresses that work but link to modified content different from what the user originally saw. Link rot is most commonly identified when a user receives the familiar “404—File Not Found” error message, or a similar error message, on his or her computer screen.

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The Data Briefing: Mapping the Big Data Ecosystem of U.S. Agriculture

The Congressional Research Service recently released a report (PDF, 688 kb, 17 pages, January 2016) describing the big data ecosystem for U.S. agriculture. The purpose of the report was to understand the federal government’s role in emerging big data sources and technologies involved in U.S. agriculture. As the report author, Megan Stubbs, points out, there is not even a standard definition of big data. “Big data may significantly affect many aspects of the agricultural industry although the full extent and nature of its eventual impacts remain uncertain.

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The Data Briefing: Highlights from 300 Federal Mobile Moments

DigitalGov’s theme this month is mobile moments, which explores the impact of mobile applications in the federal government. For this post, I am examining the more than 300 mobile apps created by the federal government. An updated list of federal mobile apps is on USA.gov. According to the list, 73 federal organizations have released mobile apps on a wide variety of topics. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has the most mobile apps with 31 releases.

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Multiple Languages, Single Platforms: the World Digital Library

Multilingual does not always mean multiple accounts or websites. Increasingly, multilingual content is delivered in an integrated way, with two (or more!) languages delivered on the same website, app, or social media platform. The World Digital Library (WDL) is one example of how multiple languages can be incorporated on single platforms. The WDL is a hub for cultural artifacts that includes books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, photographs, sound recordings, and films.

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Hear My Tweet: National Museum of American History’s #HearHistory Tweetup

DC was the Silicon Valley of the 1880’s. And Alexander Graham Bell? He was more than just a telephone man. His Volta Laboratory was the premier 19th century innovation center. The work of Bell and his contemporaries is the focus of a new exhibition at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH), “Hear My Voice: Alexander Graham Bell and the Origins of Recorded Sound.” Included in the exhibit are never-before-seen lab documents as well as early recording discs.

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2nd U.S. Public Participation Playbook Draft Responds to Public Contributions

The new second draft of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook incorporates changes that were proposed from nearly 100 suggestions submitted after the first week of public comment, with more improvements to come. We still need your contributions for this groundbreaking new collaborative resource to measurably improve our participatory public services across government, and would like to take this opportunity to share what we have learned so far.

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No More Beta in Congress.gov’s Responsive Website

Congress.gov ushered in the new fiscal year by removing the beta label from its URL two years after it launched. During this period, the Library of Congress not only extensively tested how the site would display on any device, but in a series of releases and enhancements, completely transformed the ability to find legislative information as the successor to THOMAS. With Congress.gov you can now find information via: A resources section with an A-Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress An improved Advanced Search capability with 30 new fields available to construct increasingly detailed and intricate searches that you can then save.

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Member Spotlight – Hannah Rubin, Library of Congress

Meet Hannah Rubin, who works in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) at the Library of Congress. She’s the focus of this month’s Member Spotlight. In addition to her “real” job, she’s also currently working as a “20%-er” with the DigitalGov User Experience Program via our Open Opportunities program. What do you love most about your current job/position? CRS has a unique mission: to provide objective, nonpartisan, confidential, and authoritative research and analysis for Congress throughout the legislative process.

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Customization is Key to Better Mobile User Experience

Resources like Theresa Neil’s Mobile Design Product Gallery book and Mobile-patterns.com describe, and provide examples of, common features mobile developers can implement and tailored further to satisfy their users. As mentioned in this week’s Trends on Tuesday, customizing apps to meet users’ needs is a crucial part in maximizing user experience. Today, we wanted to highlight how some agencies are implementing search, maps & geolocation and custom navigation to better their mobile product’s user experience.

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Improving Content, Increasing Participation: A NARA Usability Case Study

Over the years, the staff intranet at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had become increasingly difficult to use. Old, irrelevant content routinely bubbled to the top of search results, and essential employee tools were hard to find. NARA staff agreed that the site was due for an upgrade: fixing NARA@work was voted a top priority for 2013 in the annual Employee Viewpoint Survey. NARA managers, from the Archivist of the United States on down, supported the effort and helped recruit staff to participate.

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Can Federal Agencies Use Getty Images’ Free Share Tool?

Earlier this month, stock photo giant Getty Images launched an embedded photo viewer, that permits sharing millions of its’ copyrighted images for free. The news generated headlines and questions about whether it’s okay for government content producers to use the tool. From Getty’s perspective, the answer is yes. The company’s main restriction is that the images be used for editorial, non-commercial purposes and government content meets this criteria.

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Constitution App from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress recently released The U.S. Constitution: Analysis and Interpretation app, an iOS version of the “Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation.” This is a comprehensive analytical legal treatise prepared by attorneys of the Congressional Research Service at the direction of the United States Senate and issued as Senate Document No. 112-9. The new app and improved web publication makes the nearly 3,000-page “Constitution Annotated” more accessible to more people and enable updates of new case analysis three or four times each year.

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