Thomas search engine gets a tune up
- By Wade-Hahn Chan
- Jan 04, 2007
New Thomas Features (BETA)
The Library of Congress is adding new features to Thomas, the popular
legislative search engine, to make it easier for people to find the
information they want.
In the beta version now available for a test drive, users can search
the entire database — including the Congressional Record, committee
reports and treaties — in a single search bar. Previously, users were
limited to searching legislation by text or by bill number. Users can
also limit the number of returns by searching legislation by topic and
restricting their search to specific types of documents, such as bills
or committee reports.
The new Thomas also will include a guided
search tool that provides prompts to help users narrow their searches
in specific topic areas. For the beta version, the guided search is
focused on presidential nominees. The first prompt is a standard search
box in which users enter a nominee's name. But if they don't have that
information, the tool provides a series of pull-down menus to narrow
searches by the nominee's organization, the year nominated, and the
nominee's home state.
The library has hinted at future functions
for the search engine on its online FAQ, such as creating RSS feeds for
legislative updates and performing guided searches on other topics.
Users can submit comments about the new features through Thomas' beta Web site.