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LOUIS Shines Light on Congress, Executive

Today our friends at the Sunlight Foundation made the following announcement:

Sunlight would like to invite you to test out our new search engine of federal documents called LOUIS — the Library Of Unified Information Sources — at http://www.louisdb.org. There’s a screencast available on its homepage to help familiarize you with the site.

LOUIS makes it easy to search from a collection of over 300,000 documents from seven sets of federal documents dating back to 2001:

  • the Congressional Record,
  • congressional bills and resolutions,
  • congressional reports,
  • congressional hearings,
  • GAO reports,
  • presidential documents
  • Federal Register.

LOUIS, which updates its document depository daily, even allows you to set up a “standing query” as an RSS feed, to get alerts every time Congress or the executive branch takes action that references the subject of the initial query.

In addition, LOUIS delivers these federal documents in an electronic, printable, text format for easier use. LOUIS also lets you access all the pages of a debate in the Congressional Record printer-friendly Web page.

We’ve also made available the LOUIS API — Web access
methods that any computer programmer can use to build their own application using the database and the computer code that powers LOUIS.

Test it out – we encourage your feedback.

Gabriela Schneider
Communications Director
The Sunlight Foundation
1818 N Street NW, Suite 410
Washington, DC 20036
P: 202/742-1520 ext 236
F: 202/742-1524
[email protected]

After briefly exploring this tool, I think it will be highly useful. And it’s a great example of the type of creative uses of government information that is endangered if the government decides to go to a tiered model of information access where fully usable data is only available to those who can pay and agree not to release non-drm’d version of info to the public and free access is restricted to some sort of page at a time display.

Since the Future Digital System was designed to be “policy neutral, the reuse friendly policies of today could be converted into the crippled drm’d policy of tomorrow with a few buttons.

Don’t let that happen. Work for the locally built, Internet accessible depository system of the future. Study our digital library technologies page, check out LOCKSS or just start tagging documents of value.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a very valuable tool. Why didn’t a depository library create this? Thank you Sunlight Foundation!!

  2. dcornwall says:

    Anon asks the very sensible question – “Why didn’t a depository library create this?”

    Another good tool in this field, govtrack.us was also not created by a depository librarian.

    Some depositories are small and resource starved, but many are not. Some, like UNT, do have cool tools. But too many don’t. Why?

    Or are they out there, but the word isn’t getting out. Let us know!
    “And besides all that, what we need is a decentralized, distributed system of depositing electronic files to local libraries willing to host them.” — Daniel Cornwall, tipping his hat to Cato the Elder for the original quote.

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