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The Indiana Law Library Blog

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Improving USA.gov

We have often touted the utility of state and federal government websites for information.  www.IN.gov is a repository for lots of useful information, including a lot of the basics of Indiana law.  We are also heavy users of the federal government’s website, www.USA.gov. Though a source of lots of helpful information, USA.gov, like many websites, could use a little sprucing up, and its administrators are asking for your help in deciding what needs updating.  Your Voice Matters is a website created to ask for feedback about USA.gov. They are asking for suggestions, they want to know what are the services that you use most, and they are also asking for opinions on ideas like offering a personal account you could log into.  Some commentators like the idea, others are worried that it is a way to harvest information about users.  Go take a look!  You have to provide an e-mail address to become part of the discussion, but if there is something that you find lacking, or difficult find on the site this is a good opportunity to let them know. The discussion lasts until January 15.

The Veterans History Project

Veterans Day is a time to celebrate the valiant men and women who have served in the armed forces, their stories, and our shared history.  The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center does just that, collecting first hand accounts and mementos of veterans and those on the home front during wartime.  Since its inception in 2000, the project has collected the stories of thousands of veterans and those in the war effort for preservation in the Library of Congress.  You can search or browse—many interviews are not digitized yet, but for some you can watch or listen to interviews, read transcripts, or view documents and photographs of interest. One very touching story is of a dog named Lucky who served in the Marines while his owner was in the Navy.  The Project does not conduct interviews themselves—their material comes from partner organizations and from volunteers.  Our own Senator Lugar has contributed greatly to the collection.  If you know a veteran with a story to tell (or are one yourself) you might consider participating in the project.  More details on how to do so can be found here. Happy Veterans Day!

Listening to the Health Care Bill

Last Saturday the House passed H.R. 3962, the highly controversial health care bill, by a very slim margin of 220-215.  The House added one amendment to the bill, concerning coverage of abortion procedures, but declined to include an amendment dealing with insurance. The bill as introduced is sizable—nearly two thousand pages, and if you are interested in reading it you can.  It is available in several places including FDsys, the new website from the Government Printing Office.  There is another alternative, though, for people reluctant to wade through the paper version.  Hear the Bill is a website where voice actors have volunteered their time to read aloud the text of the health care bill.  The later divisions of H.R. 3962 are not yet complete, but all of Division A and the majority of Division B are.  You can also listen to older versions of the House Bill, or a draft version of the Senate Bill.  Go take a look!

Flu Information

Welcome back from break!  We hope that you had a nice one.  Now that you are back, and spending time in close company with many different people, you might be thinking about the flu, both seasonal and the H1N1 strain.  Trends in Google searches show that interest in the flu has been intense in Indiana and in the United States in general.  There are several good places to go for flu information, but the federal government’s website, www.flu.gov , is probably one of the best.  It includes information on the flu itself, a little quiz to help you tell if you have the H1N1 flu, and also lots of information about flu vaccination.  It will also help you find a place to get your vaccinations.  The American Lung Association is keeping track of where to get seasonal vaccinations, and the Indiana State government website is the place to go to find out about H1N1.  Stay healthy this season!

An Archive of Blawgs

Legal blogs have taken on a life of their own.  They provide news and current events, and also a look into the minds of some of the best legal scholars.  With that in mind, the Law Library of Congress has been archiving blawgs since 2007.  This database includes more than 100 items and covers a large variety of legal issues.  You can search by keyword, or just browse by subject.  Go take a look!

Happy Constitution Day and Citizenship Day!

The United States Constitution was signed exactly 222 years ago today.  So on this day, we celebrate both this important document, and all the people who have become American citizens.  Constitution Day is celebrated with presidential statements, laws, and lesson plans each year.  This year you can celebrate by learning more about Constitution Day from the Library of Congress website, or by finding out which Founding Father you most resemble at the National Constitution Center’s website.

President Obama Addresses Students

Today at noon the President will be broadcast into preK-12 schools across the nation to talk to students.  His remarks, released yesterday, will focus on the importance of making and meeting educational goals.  Assignment ideas accompanied the speech announcement, both for preK-6 and 7-12.  Since the talk was announced, there has been some controversy about it.  Some parents are concerned that it might be an attempt to politicize children.  An earlier version of the suggested activities included students writing a letter to themselves about how they could help the President, which upset many parents (the language has since been changed).  In the end, the decision of whether or not to show the speech is being left up to schools.  Some schools with show it, some will decline, some are taping it so that they can review it for content before showing it to their children.  What do you think?  If you are interested in more, you can check out the CNN article that includes speeches given by Presidents Regan and H.W. Bush to school children.  For a local view, you can look at the comments that accompany the articles in the Bloomington Herald-Times, both before and after the text of the speech was released.  And, of course, you can tune into the speech itself live at noon.

Labor Day

Labor Day is the first Monday in September, meaning that this year it is as late as it can ever get.  The first Labor Day was on September 5th, 1882.  It’s a mixed blessing—it is both a day of rest for those who need it, and it usually signals the beginning of school.  Though you still have to go to class, take a few minutes to enjoy the day and celebrate the week and a half of school already finished.  If you are interested, USA.gov has interesting Labor Day information, including history, union information, photos of Labor Days gone by, sources for employment law, and interesting labor statistics (Did you know that 288,000 people work two full time jobs?).

Digitized Serial Set Expanded

The Wells Library has purchased a campus-wide subscription to the LexisNexis Serial Set Digital Collection, 1970-2003.  This module expands our previous (1789-1969) digitized Serial Set coverage.

The modern Serial Set includes House and Senate documents and reports, Senate executive reports, and Senate treaty documents.  Historically, the Serial Set included special publications, unusual historical data, exhibits of congressional and executive branch commissions, executive branch publications, and investigations and inquiries.

When complete, the LexisNexis Serial Set Digital Collection, 1970-2003 will provide comprehensive, full-text access to over 50,000 Congressional documents and reports published in over 2,600 volumes of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set from 1970-present. The Serial Set Digital Collection also provides full text access to all Senate Executive Documents and Reports, 1817-1979.

Features include:

  • Controlled vocabulary indexing
  • Full-text searchable PDFs
  • Durable URLs, which you can place into your own bibliographies and syllabi

Search by:

  • Keyword
  • Committee
  • Legislative numbers (report and document numbers and even citations to bills, public laws, and Statutes at Large)

LexisNexis is digitizing this collection incrementally on a chronological basis, so right now there will be data only from the early 1970s. LexisNexis should have roughly 60% of the pages from 1970-2003 online by the end of 2009, with the remainder going online in 2010.

The Serial Set Digital Collection is fully integrated into LexisNexis Congressional, which is accessible from the Law Library’s Online Resources page (find it alphabetically or under the Government Resources category).

Economic Research

Here’s an update from, Katrina Stierholz, Director of Library and Research Information Services at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, on what’s new in FRASER  (Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research).

Federal Banking Laws and Reports

  • A compilation of major Federal banking documents from 1780 to 1912. It includes founding documents for the Bank of North America (1781), ordinances for the First and Second Bank of the United States (1791, 1816) as well as reports and proceedings. It was published for the 50th anniversary of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency in 1963.

Penn Central Failure and the Role of Financial Institutions

  • Five staff reports of the U.S. House Committee on Banking and Currency examine the collapse of the Penn Central Transportation Company, the single largest bankruptcy declaration in U.S. history at the time.

Operation of the National and Federal Reserve Banking Systems

  • A seven-part hearing from 1931, before a subcommittee of the Committee on Banking and Currency, U.S. Senate, to “inquire into the banking situation of the country.”  Hearing is pursuant to Senate Resolution 71: to make a complete survey of the administration of National and Federal Reserve banking systems.

Shadow Open Market Committee Policy Statements (1973-1997)

  • The Shadow Open Market Committee (SOMC), an independent organization with members from academic institutions and private organizations, was founded by Professors Karl Brunner of the University of Rochester and Allan Meltzer of Carnegie-Mellon.  Its first semi-annual meeting was held on September 14, 1973.  The objective was to evaluate the policy choices and actions of the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FOMC).  Since 1973, the SOMC has met semi-annually to discuss economic policy.

Public Statements of Marriner S. Eccles, Chairman of the Board of Governors (1934-1948)

Public Statements of the Members of the Board of Governors.  Eccles (1948-1951)

Federal Reserve Bulletin, Now available from 1915-2003.

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