Library makes Congressional Research Service Reports searchable

Thursday, June 23, 2005

DENTON (UNT), Texas - Opening a new online archive of Congressional Research Service Reports, the University of North Texas Libraries now provide free public access to the vital information Members of Congress use to make critical policy decisions and establish national laws.

The Web site, available at digital.library.unt.edu/govdocs/crs/, provides integrated, searchable access to many of the full-text CRS reports that have been available since 1990.

According to Arlene Weible, head of the UNT Libraries' Government Documents Department, the database contains both current and older reports, so users can look for a topic of interest today -- such as Social Security Reform -- and see how the issues may have changed over the last several years.

CRS serves as the public policy research arm of U. S. Congress -- working exclusively for members, their committees and staff. Although it does not provide direct public access to the numerous reports it produces each year, Weible said that some U.S. representatives and senators, as well as several non-profit groups, post selected reports on their individual Web sites.

"In the past, citizens who wished to study these reports had to request them from their Congressional representatives, but now the UNT archive of CRS reports serves as a one-stop gateway to these vital and valuable resources," Weible said.

In 2002, NewsBank/Readex and the American Library Association's Government Documents Round Table awarded the Catharine J. Reynolds Research Grant Award to UNT Librarians Cathy Nelson Hartman and Valerie D. Glenn to capture electronic copies of CRS reports and make them permanently available without fee to the public.

As a result of Hartman's and Glenn's efforts, the site opened this week with over 6,500 reports on topics ranging from Terrorism and Foreign Policy to Medicare and Social Security.

This new UNT Web site offers users the ability to search the full text of the reports, as well as by title, author, subject and report number. The site also allows users to browse the reports by subject.

The UNT Libraries will continue to add reports as they become available. "We welcome all contributions or notifications of report availability," Weible said.

Note: For interviews and additional information, contact:

Arlene Weible at (940) 565-4150 or aweible@library.unt.edu or Melody Kelly, associate dean of UNT Libraries, at (940) 565-3023 or mkelly@library.unt.edu.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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