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End of Year Legal Information Update From Washington, DC

Winter has arrived here with cold (for us) temperatures and some icy snow. But there is good news coming from some U.S. government information sources. In October the Law Library of Congress, where I volunteer, announced a new chatbot service.

“We are excited to announce the release of a new chatbot that can connect you to primary sources of law, Law Library research guides and our foreign law reports. The chatbot has a clickable interface that will walk you through a basic reference interview. Just click “get started,” respond “yes” or “no” to its questions, and then click on the buttons that are relevant to your needs. If you would like to return to the main menu, you can always type “start over.”

The Law Library of Congress Chatbot.

The chatbot can also respond to a limited number of text commands. Just type “list of commands” to view some examples. We plan to add to the chatbot’s vocabulary based on user interaction logs, particularly whenever a question triggers the default response, which directs the user to our Ask A Librarian service. To give the chatbot a try, head over to our Facebook page and click the blue “Send Message” button.” Much more general information about resources and search methods can be found at the Law Library’s home page.

In November, the Law Library’s In Custodia Legis blog included a two part series of updates and search tips for Congress.gov. The first release announced the addition of access to House Communications from January 6, 2015 to the present. This release also included a search tip about sorting legislation by number of co-sponsors.

The second release included a search tip on the Congressional Record showing how to browse by date. A number of fixes and search upgrades were also announced.

The Library of Congress Digital Collections now contain 68 collections concerning government, law and politics. Included among these are the Federal Courts Web Archive, the Federal Register, the Legal Blawgs Web Archive (slaw.ca is in there), and the U.S. Code.

In November the United States Government Publishing Office’s govinfo.gov site added digitized volumes of the Federal Register from 1970 to 1979 and digitized volumes of the Congressional Record from 1891 to 1911.

I hope you will find these resources to be useful. And I wish you a very happy holiday season.

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