Tara Calishain is the co-author of Official Netscape Guide to Internet Research, 2nd Edition, and author or co-author of four other books. She is the owner of CopperSky Writing & Research.
In This Issue:
The Latest on Legal Research
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The Census Bureau has the 2001 Statistical Abstract of the US online at
http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/01statab/stat-ab01.html. Tables, in PDF format, are listed by sections. Click on a selected section and, while the first page opens on the right, thumbnail prints of the each page appear on the left. Categories in the abstract include Prices, Energy, Social Insurance and Human Services, and and several appendixes to help you use the guide.
Links to a subject index and a search engine are at the bottom of the page. Search options include full-text or narrowing to titles and keywords. Additional
options are searching by place, staff or map. The map choice offers a map of the US with each state listing QuickFacts along with those of the entire country. The question mark proceeding the fact provides the source and definition.
The banner on YourCongress.com says you can learn, track and laugh on this site at http://www.yourcongress.com/. There is so much to learn that the site has a category entitled Your Congress U. which explains, among other things, the way a bill actually becomes a law and seldom heard answers to frequently asked questions.
This site also contains, among other things, sections for what’s upcoming in Congress (and “breezy” is the only way to describe the writing: “The Prez’s new budget makes its debut, the Senate still tries to stimulate the economy, and everybody’s in a snit over taxes. Congress is getting jiggy with it, so see what’s in it for you on the Week Ahead… “) transcripts of celebrities testifying before Congress, and a lookup feature to discover who your Congressional representatives are. (Representative profiles include haikus.) YourCongress.com offers the option to track your representatives’ activities in Congress for free. (You can track other reps, but that will cost you.) .
Where’s the laugh? Well, there’s Current Capital Craziness and Congressional Diseases. This site imparts a lot of useful information, but the presentation is just this side of silly. Lots of fun. Worth a look.
The title says it all — The NYU Guide to Foreign and International Legal Databases — http://www.law.nyu.edu/library/foreign_intl/index.html — provides links to lots of different offsite databases and informative pages.
Links are divided into several categories including Citing Electronic Information, Environmental Law, Human Rights, and International Treaties. Click on a
category and you’ll get a page of links, most decently annotated. Nicely done, worth a look.
Competitive Analysis Technologies has announced the 8th quarterly update of its industry database, Power Utilities on the Internet. The database maintains 3,000+ profiles on gas and electric generation and distribution. Database formats include hardcopy and Intranet plug-ins. Demos can be viewed at
www.catsites.com/demo. Get the whole press release at
Google’s tweaked their news headlines a little bit. You can get to the headline page at http://www.google.com/news/newsheadlines.html. Categories are at the top of the page. Click on a category and you’ll get a list of the five most popular news topics in each category. Each topic itself contains the five most popular stories for that topic.
I don’t understand some of the placement — the story about the Superbowl was in the top stories category and not in the sports category — but for the most part this is an easy way to get both an overview of hot news at the moment and several different perspectives on each story. Now, if they’d only make this available as an RSS file.
Digital Library of Secret Tobacco Documents Now Available
The UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) Library and Center for Knowledge Management has announced the release of the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, a collection of over 20 million (you read that right) previously-secret documents from tobacco industry files. You can access it at
There is a list of the most popular documents on the front page, and a link to a list of resources in several different categories (industry documents, activism, etc.) but the essence of the site is the search engine at
Using this tool you can search choose one or all of several collections, including Council for Tobacco Research Documents, Brown and Williamson Documents, and Tobacco Institute Documents. After marking the checkboxes of the items you want to search, choose simple search or advanced search.
Simple search allows you to specify keyword and search area (entire area, authors, mentioned names, etc.) Advanced search is basically several simple searches strung together with the Boolean options AND, OR, or NOT.
Searching for “idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis” in all collections found 13 results. “macho” found over 800 results. “apple flavored” had three results. (And “chocolate flavored” had one result.) Look on the left side of the results page and you’ll see how many matches were in each collection. The right side of the
page is devoted to the results list.
Results include title of document, authors, document date (documents go back to the 1930s), document type, Bates number, page count, and the collection it came from. You may view documents as TIFs (graphic files), PDFs, or page-by-page graphics files. I could not get any of these functions to work in Opera; they all worked fine in IE. You have the option to add items from the search results to a bookbag. Once you’ve finished your research you can download or e-mail the contents of your bookbag.
Recent documents are very readable but some of the older ones are not. I found a memo from 1938 darn near impossible to read. On the other hand, a crop survey from 1939 from perfectly legible.
You could easily spend hours here. If you want to do a lot of document downloading, be sure to a) check the page count, and b) use a broadband connection if you can — these files are not small!