Congressional Research Service reports now online from the source #CRS #LoC

tl;dr: The new site is

The Congressional Research Service is an office within the Library of Congress that does research on current issues for members of Congress. Although it’s funded by the U.S. taxpayer, it does not work directly for us. In fact, its policy was not to make its reports public.

I first learned about CRS in library school from my reference professor, the late Dr. Terry Crowley. In those pre-Internet days, he told us that if we knew a CRS report existed on a subject, we could request it from our member of Congress.

Once the Internet came along, some public-service-minded web sites made a point of collecting as many CRS reports as they could and publishing them online. But since the reports weren’t coming from the source, you never knew if you were getting everything CRS publishes nor whether you were getting the latest versions. (CRS reports are frequently updated.)

Some members of Congress thought this was a crazy way to do things. Prodded by librarians, journalists, and other advocates for the free flow of government information, they introduced a bipartisan amendment to a budget bill requiring CRS to put its reports online. Last month, it happened. CRS reports are available at (Press release from Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Congressional Research Service Reports Now Available Online)

The site has great searching and a nice layout of results. However, it isn’t perfect. So far, it just includes reports issued in 2018. If the latest version of a report came out in 2016 or 2017, it won’t be on the site. They plan to have the full inventory online by spring 2019. Some other shortcomings of the site are detailed in this article from Roll Call, Public-Facing Congressional Research Reports Site Launches to Criticism.

So, in the meantime, you may want to check the following sites for CRS reports in addition to the official site:




Environmental Scanning and Anticipatory Delivery of Information #InternetLibrarian

Deanna West and Stephanie Godley Murphy, MITRE

Slides available at:

MITRE operates a number of think tanks that advise the federal government.

The library staff provide:

  • Environmental scans: one-off snapshots of a subject
  • Newsletters: on-going current awareness (could be daily, 3x a week, weekly)
  • Alerts: something happening right now that somebody needs to know

For the last category, you need to understand your customers’ information needs. For example, they found out that what they were sending to one customer, 90% of it he already knew. They talked with him and found out that he had a need to be informed about upcoming Congressional hearings, so they switched to doing that.

Never send just a link. Always provide some context, analysis, etc.

Maximizing the Use of the Open Web, Gary Price #InternetLibrarian @InfoDocket

Gary Price

Slides at

Open Web, for lack of a better term, is what you find on Google.

Interested in specialty resources, primary sources.  Example, recent report from International Red Cross had lots of great data on disasters.

How to get this info into traditional library resources?  People don’t know about this material.

People don’t know about putting phrases in quotation marks or using the site: operator.

How he searches for new resources on Google:

  1. Search by domain, such as
  2. Use tools to limit within, say, past year
  3. Turn off relevance and sort by date
  4. Limit to filetype:pdf

Could send out by e-mail, blog, RSS feed.  You could use IFTTT to convert RSS to e-mail.

Zapier is similar to IFTTT.

Central repository for librarians to put their finds?

Could automatically update LibGuides or open textbooks.

Early attempts for librarians to curate the web: LII, IPL, BUBL.  People thought Google would solve all of these problems and we wouldn’t need curation.  Gary says curation is needed now more than ever, but we need to take it to the next level.

Somebody wants to know about mental health,  tell them about WHO’s MindBank — a curated database of international sources on mental health.  Don’t just tell them to go to the WHO site.

Used to be known as selective dissemination of information (SDI).

If you tell them about something when it’s new, you become known as the person who knows about new resources.  It may not always be useful to them, but it reminds them that you’re doing this.

If you tell people to go to your web site, they forget.  If you tweet something once, people may not see it hours or days later.

What if we take the trouble to add these reports to our collection and then the link goes dead?  Maybe we should be archiving them.  You can go to the Wayback Machine and use the “Save Page Now” option.

The UK government has an RSS feed of new government reports.

NY Academy of Medicine grey literature report.

California Research Bureau: “studies in the news” (California State Library)

[My own contribution to a specialty curated collection: ]

Resource discovery: exposing collections on Wikipedia #internetlibrarian #il2015 @jakeorlowitz

Jake Orlowitz, Wikipedia


Listen to Wikipedia is a representation in sound of Wkipedia updates in real time.

35 million articles, 7th most popular web site, 8th largest DOI referer.

More mobile uses.

Physicians, medical students using it.

Fast, easy, free, pretty comprehensive, generally accurate.

Neutral POV, verifiable, consensus, civility, open copyright.

Errors and bias tend to get caught. About 50% of edits are by bots.

People learn literacy and rules of scholarly writing, all in an online collaboration.

Each article has quality and importance rating. Only 1 % have top quality rating. Room for improvement.

Libraries have the best sources, Wikipedia has the most eyeballs. Want to make Wikipedia a starting point.

Wikipedia Library makes subscription sources available to the most active editors.

OA signaling to let people know when sources are open access. Thinking about a bot that would add links to institutional repositories.

Wikipedian in residence to help libraries learn how to work on Wikipedia and expose their resources.

Wikipedian visiting scholar: give them access to your collection.

Wikipedia library intern.

Library of New South Wales did an extensive list of Australian diarists in WWI.

If you link to your collection in external links, it’s likely to be seen as spam. Use further reading section instead.

Tell people in your user page who you are and what you’re doing and be mindful of conflict of interest rules.

Add images to Wikimedia Commons.

Hebrew Wikipedia public reference desk is run by librarians from Israel National Library. Why not English-language version, too?

Contacts with ARL and IFLA.

Wikipedia and libraries are natural allies. Wikipedia is a starting point and wants to lead people back to the sources.

Wikipedia could have a peer-reviewed version of articles, which they could link to, but articles could always be edited. Editing is a permanent part of their model.