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If you need a gateway to Congressional information, this portal at http://www.congresslink.org/index.htm its your bill. This teaching aid is sponsored by Dirksen Congressional Center and is designed to provide a variety of reference materials.
There are three sections to this site: Information Center, Features and Classroom Resources. Drag your cursor over each of the headers in the left column to determine what is in each one. I explored the sections starting with the Information Center.
The Information Center offers guides to Congress and the media. It discusses contacting government officials by e-mail and how to determine whom to write to. It also covers issues and legislation, including a section for legislation related to September 11th. This section concludes with access a searchable legislation database that includes the Congressional Record.
The Features section focuses on Historical Information and Congressional Procedures. It also includes Expert Views on such issues as what students ought to know about Congress and the feasibility of a virtual Congress. Classroom Resources offers teaching aids and lesson plans sorted by subject, along with additional materials such as maps and statements.
This site, at http://www.canadalegal.com/default.asp, provides legal information in Canada that is searchable with a capital S. In addition to keyword searching, there is also an advanced search option that allows narrowing a search by area of law, category or jurisdiction.
Canadalegal features a Quick Search section in which you browse areas or categories of law. Need to reach a Canadian lawyer? The drop-down list of law areas gives the number of listed lawyers for each area, and the Province/State menu does also. Worth a look.
World Law (http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/index.html)
contains global law information and includes DIAL, which is Development of
the Internet for Asian Law. Search options with this database include any
of the words, all of the words, exact phrase and Boolean query. The front
page also posts most recent additions, announcements, and some quick
translation links if English isn't your preferred language.
Links to site categories are listed on the left. Categories include Countries, Courts & Case-Law, Legislation and Parliaments. Categories open with
additional search options and a list of sub-categories. Some of the listings themselves contain a link to search the resources of that particular listing; see
http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/50514.html for a list of examples. Annotation is good; many descriptions also include the source of the site (various law schools, libraries, etc.)
Rhode Island Launches New Portal
Rhode Island now has a new portal at http://www.ri.gov/. Located in the left column, the site's keyword search engine features a complex search option. A complex search will narrow the search to fields within selected topics while limiting the search to a specified time period. Other options in the left column include links to areas of interest to RI's citizens such as Education and Recreation & Travel.
The center column features online services and news. Online services features verification of more than 100,000 licenses in 74 health professions. There are also new subscription options; you can get more information on these at
http://www.ri.gov/info/more/subscription.html but it looks like they're just now rolling them out.
Additional options include searching for lobbyists, public notaries and corporate names. If you're a resident or have a special interest in Rhode Island,
you might like the collection of links on the right side of the page, which direct you to links where you can send a Rhode Island electronic postcard, get forms
to register a trademark, get a traffic forecast, view the Rhode Island business directory, and more. Nicely designed site with plenty of resources.
Yahoo Teams Up With Northern Light for Premium
I was doing some searching over at Yahoo this morning when I noticed that the advanced search now offers a "Research Documents" option. Hmm, said I. I ran a test search on this and -- my, it looks like Yahoo and Northern Light are teaming up, because these are Northern Light special collection documents.
Searching this collection from Yahoo's advanced search is a bit crude; I was not able to narrow results by date of release or list them by date of release.
Searching by Title syntax does seem to work, though.
I noticed that search results are being fed from premium.search.yahoo.com. Hmm... http://premium.search.yahoo.com/splash.html resolves to Yahoo Proudly Presents Premium Document Search. There's also a search box here, but unfortunately the search results seem be the same as you'll get from the
advanced search; no date sort, etc.
A rep from Northern Light wasn't able to tell me too much, leaving me to speculate. Is Yahoo buying Northern Light? That doesn't make sense; why bother to put these Northern Light graphics on the page results? Is Northern Light offloading their special search collection to Yahoo for public access? That wouldn't be a bad way to concentrate on enterprise customers. The actual documents seem to remain on Northern Light, as when you click on a document title you get http://yhlib.northernlight.com/ serving you the abstract.
I suspect there will be an announcement for this in the next week or so. Stay tuned.
Alternatives to Northern Light
After the Northern Light announcement last week, I got some e-mails from readers wanting to know if there were other search engines that offered the
"clustering" technology that Northern Light does.
Probably the closest alternative is Vivisimo, at http://www.vivisimo.com. Vivisimo is a meta-search engine, but it presents its results in groups that look
similar to the Northern Light search results. Vivisimo doesn't include Google, but it does include Yahoo, MSN, Lycos, etc. Vivisimo also offers a news search.