Monday, February 18, 2008

Margeton on Legislative Histories and Librarians

Of Legislative Histories and Librarians, is an essay just posted by Stephen G. Margeton, Catholic University. It appeared in the Law Library Journal (1993). Here's the abstract:
Of Legislative Histories and Librarians: The Early Years briefly chronicles the interest of legal librarians in legislative history research during the period from the 1930s through the 1980s. It describes the materials that are included in a legislative history of a Congressional enactment, and how law firms and agencies created library services to systematically collect bills, resolutions, reports, hearings and the all-important Congressional debate. The piece highlights the special contributions to legislative history research by the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C., whose members identified local law firms and agencies that had bound legislative histories for loan (Union List of Legislative Histories), as well as several local law librarians who made significant contributions to the art of tracking Congressional bills and building impressive collections of bound legislative histories. The author notes that federal agency libraries also played an important role in legislative history research, as did private publishers who were instrumental in distributing early collections in hard copy and micro format. Of particular note was the work of the Library of Congress, whose Bill Status system was one of the first automated bill tracking systems, and Congressional Information Service, a company that developed an abstracting and indexing system for Congressional hearings and reports and a practical microfiche distribution service.

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