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Gems from the Congressional Research Service

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The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a highly respected non-partisan research organization based at the U.S. Library of Congress. The CRS produces research reports and issue briefs on a vast range of topics for members of the U.S. Congress.

Unfortunately, much of this high-quality information is squarely in the realm of the Invisible web, hidden away from the major search engines.

Legislation is currently working through Congress that would offer the public a better access to these reports. However, as of today no single site currently offers all CRS material to the public. In fact, only a small portion of CRS reports are available to the public on the web.

CRS reports cover many topics. Titles range from "State Laws on Human Cloning" to a five page report on the history of Daylight Savings Time.

You can search with a web engine and potentially come up with CRS material but in some cases the reports you'll find might not be the most current version of the report available. Not only does the CRS offer publish new material but they also spend a great deal of time updating previously released reports.

Fortunately, a good deal of this useful and valuable research is available via a few key sites that do a good job of making the most recently updated versions of reports available.

What follows are a few CRS web-accessible collections that I use. Remember, what you do find on the web is just a small portion of the Congressional Research Service's total output.

CRS Access via the U.S. House of Representatives Web Site

This collection is located directly on the U.S. House of Representatives web server but because of a robots exclusion protocol file on the site, these reports are not crawled by search engines. You are also unable able to link directly to the reports. However, it's been my experience that the reports on this server are updated very soon after release or updating.

Two U.S. Congressman offer a gateway to the U.S. House Web server.

CRS Gateway Pages

Gateway Page via Representative Christopher Shays
Gateway Page via Representative Mark Green

Other Frequently Updated CRS Sources

These sites do a good job of adding new reports and keeping previously published reports updated.

Foreign Press Center Collection (via U.S. State Department
Collection focuses on international relation issues.

National Library For the Environment Collection
Focusing on environmental and related issues.

U.S. Embassy Rome Collection
A collection of CRS reports on various issues.

Federation of American Scientists Collection
Collection of reports about military, intelligence, and related issues.

Gary Price is the Guest Editor of SearchDay, and publisher of ResourceShelf, a weblog covering the online information industry.

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