Wednesday, September 19, 2012 THOMAS 2.0

Today, the Library of Congress unveiled the beta version of, which provides free access to congressional bills, enacted legislation, and member directories. This new site will eventually replace THOMAS, the Library's current legislative information portal. Read the announcements on the Library of Congress blog and the Law Library of Congress blog, In Custodia Legis.

Like THOMAS, features the text of current and past bills and legislation, dating back to 2001 (compared to THOMAS's 1990, though the developers will be adding all historical THOMAS content into the new site over the next two years). also includes some new features, like biographies of current as well as past members of Congress (dating back to 1947) and an expanded collection of tutorials on the legislative process.

The most noticeable changes, though, are the slick design (which is more compatible with mobile devices), improved search functionality, and the use of permanent, stable URLs (links to legislation search results in THOMAS expire after approximately 30 minutes, although a separate site called Tiny will render them into permalinks). The About page highlights other changes and outlines plans for the continued development of the new site.

The Goodson Law Library research guide to Federal Legislative History will be updated to reflect the new site's availability. In the meantime, be sure to Ask a Librarian about this or any other options for researching congressional materials.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

225 Years of the U.S. Constitution

Time flies when you're having fun! Monday, September 17 marks the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution's signing. "Constitution Day" was established in 2004, piggybacking on the existing federal recognition of September 17 as "Citizenship Day." See 36 U.S.C. § 106 (2006).

As part of the effort to commemorate this important day, the National Constitution Center offers a "Pop Quiz" of 10 questions about the U.S. Constitution’s content and history. In 2011, the Christian Science Monitor prepared a similar quiz of constitutional trivia. More advanced con law scholars can also test their Constitution IQ with the Questions & Answers: Constitutional Law multiple-choice format study aid in the library's collection.

Celebrate Constitution Day at the Goodson Law Library by picking up a free pocket Constitution at the library service desk, while supplies last. (Reading from afar? You can also print your own pocket Constitution from the PDF at FDsys, but take care to select "Booklet" format when printing!) For assistance with navigating our wealth of library resources on American constitutional law and constitutional history, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Loan-ly iPads

Are you curious to see what all this iPad fuss is about before committing to buy one of your own? Or are you an experienced iPad user who just needs temporary access to a device? Either way, the Duke Law School's new iPad Loaner program may be able to help. Duke Law students can check out iPads and selected accessories from the Academic Technologies Help Desk.

Why is this potentially useful? According to Digital Initiatives Librarian Hollie White, "There are many reasons to check out an iPad. On an iPad, notes can be taken, either by hand or using the keypad. Being very portable, iPads can also be used to store important documents using cloud applications. Four of Duke Law’s classrooms and the Digital Initiatives Lab have Apple TVs, which can be used with an iPad to project relevant content in meetings or with a study group."

The loaner iPads come pre-loaded with a set of standard productivity, video, and legal research apps, such as Pages, Skype, Kindle, HeinOnline and WestlawNext. Borrowers may also sync their personal iTunes account in order to download additional apps during the loan period; the devices are wiped before their next loan.

Accessory options include HDMI adaptors, VGA adaptors, camera connectors, and a case with a built-in keyboard. Accessory loans must be requested separately (but can also be requested even if you are not checking out an iPad).

If you would like to borrow an iPad, here are some important procedures to remember:
  • Bring your DukeCard to the Academic Technologies Help Desk.
  • iPads can only be checked out and returned between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday.
  • Once you receive the iPad from the Help Desk, turn it on and ensure it works before leaving the desk.
  • When returning the iPad to the Help Desk, be sure to include the power cord and all other accessories.
  • Law students can borrow an iPad for up to four days (including weekends). iPads can be renewed if there is no waitlist, but the renewal process must happen in person at the Help Desk.
For questions about the Law School’s iPad Loaner Program, contact the Academic Technologies Help Desk. For assistance with locating iPad user guides in the Law Library collection, such as iPad in One Hour for Lawyers, or with accessing sources for law-related apps, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

If you are a Duke student outside of the Law School who is interested in borrowing an iPad, consult The Link, which has a limited number of iPads available for loan to University students on a first-come, first-served basis.