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The Indiana Law Library Blog

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Where to find recent Congressional testimony

Georgetown University Law School student Sandra Fluke has made news headlines for her recent testimony on the subject of women’s health at a hearing held by the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on February 23rd.

Congressional committees generally hold hearings for legislative, investigative, or oversight purposes.  At a legislative hearing, witnesses are invited to provide testimony on behalf of or against legislation and the bill’s sponsor is expected to appear to defend his or her proposed legislation.

Official printed hearings contain transcripts of the proceedings of Senate and House committee meetings, member statements, question and answer sessions, and prepared statements submitted by those testifying before the committee.  Official hearings are published by the Government Printing Office and can take anywhere from three months to three years to be published (if published at all!). It is entirely up to the discretion of the congressional committee (or subcommittee) to even publish a hearing. Full Story »

Happy Bill of Rights Day!

On December 15th, 1791 the Bill of Rights was ratified and came into effect. It’s tough to imagine our country without it. There are various ways to celebrate Bill of Rights Day, including by reading the Bill of Rights, and you can sign a pledge to that effect. Or you could read more about the creation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Or you could take one of the many Bill of Rights quizzes online like this one, or for a slightly harder one devoted entirely to the first amendment, try here.  In any case, it doesn’t hurt to take a break from studying for you finals to appreciate the significance of the laws you are studying.  Happy Bill of Rights Day!

Resources for U.S. Government Publications

New to Law School? Or have you forgotten where to find government information and documents? The Law Library provides access to free and subscription-based indexes and full-text sources of government publications. These databases are accessed from the Law Library Online Resources web page, grouped under the heading Government Resources.

Here is a quick overview of resources for locating government documents (including bills, hearings, committee reports, debates, statutes, regulations, committee information, agency decisions and treaties). Full Story »

New United States Code Website

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives has created a new online version of the United States Code.  Key features, including a new search engine and an expanding “Table of Contents” style browse of the Code, are described here.

Additionally, the Law Librarians of Congress have blogged about the beta site at In Custodia Legis.  So as not to reinvent the wheel, I’ll link to their blog post about the new version of the USC here.

FYI…note the new Title 51 (National and Commercial Space Programs)!

A Town Hall on Facebook

President Obama will be holding a town hall today—on Facebook.  At 4:45 Eastern Time there will be a streaming town hall.  All you have to do is like the White House Facebook page and then RSVP for the event.  You can submit questions, either via Facebook, or from  President Obama has been active in using social media in the past, and for this event he will be broadcasting live form Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto.  More than 35,000 people have already RSVP’d.

Happy Tax Day!

Today is Tax Day, and all federal tax paperwork needs to be sent off today.  April 15th is the traditional due date for taxes, but this year Emancipation Day fell on April 15th, and then the weekend pushed the date back yet further.  Tax day has changed dates throughout the years, generally falling sometime in the early spring.  A federal income tax was first established as a means for the federal government to collect money during the time of the Civil War.  The ability of congress to impose taxes was legally challenged on occasion until the Sixteenth Amendment settled the issue—though naturally tax is still a very litigious subject, and a highly politicized one.

For more information on the legal history of Tax Day and how it came to be on April 15th Westlaw Insider has a page devoted to it. offers a look back, and also a list of other interesting April 15th events.

Your 2010 Federal Taxpayer Receipt

Want to see how your federal tax dollars are spent?  Check out your Federal Taxpayer Receipt.

LexisNexis Congressional: New Name and New Content


LexisNexis Congressional has been renamed ProQuest Congressional.

Back in December 2010, ProQuest acquired several products from LexisNexis, including LexisNexis Congressional and LexisNexis Statistical Insight (now renamed ProQuest Statistical Insight).

New Content

We now have access to a new collection of digital content on Proquest Congressional: 

House and Senate Unpublished Hearings Digital Archive, Part A (1973-1979).

Want to know more about Unpublished Hearings?

ProQuest publishes many useful guides on their products and content, including this background information on unpublished hearings:

  • Not all congressional hearings are published. Each committee makes its own decision regarding which hearings are to be published. A committee may decide not to publish a hearing because it contains classified or sensitive information, or because it pertains to private or other legislation deemed to be not of great interest to the public at large, or simply because committee budget or workload considerations preclude the publication. The committee does not have to justify its decision not to publish.
  • The transcripts of unpublished hearings are transferred to the National Archives. Senate hearings generally remain closed for 20 years, and House hearings remain closed for 30 years. Hearings that contain classified or sensitive material generally remain closed for 50 years.
  • When they are released, unpublished hearings are not normally published by the committees, although in unusual circumstances they may be. For example, the transcripts of the Senate Government Operations Committee Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations 1953 hearings to investigate alleged espionage and subversive activities were published as a Government Operations Committee print in 2003.

You can access ProQuest Congressional and ProQuest Statistical Insight from the Law Library’s Online Resources page.  Please see a reference librarian if you need assistance with ProQuest Congressional or any other database!

Free Language Lessons from the U.S. Government

Government Information & Kent Cooper Services at the Wells Library recently blogged about free language lessons from the Foreign Service Institute.  These lessons were developed by the U.S. Government and are in the public domain.  Check it out!

What happens during a Federal Government shutdown?

If you’re interested in what might happen to some government resources in the event of a shutdown, read on.

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