Library of Congress & Cornell redeveloping legislative metadata models

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Philip Ashlock

Jan 11, 2011, 4:04:21 PM1/11/11
to Open State Project
I figured this should be on this list's radar:

@bethnoveck wrote:
Library of Congress taps @cornell_lii to redesign legislative-metadata models and improve access and search on THOMAS

Library of Congress taps LII for Expertise in Legislative Information

It’s finally official: The Library of Congress has selected us to work on a redesign of their legislative-metadata models. This sounds like really geeky stuff (and it is), but the effects for government and for citizens should be pretty big. What’s really being talked about here is (we hope) a great improvement not only in what can be retrieved from systems like THOMAS and LIS (the less-well-known internal system used by Congress itself), but also in what can be linked to and referenced. We’ll begin with a careful compilation of use cases, build functional requirements for what the data models should do, and go from there to think about prototype systems and datasets. The idea is to bring Semantic Web technology to bills, public laws, the US Code, Presidential documents, and a variety of other collections. Longtime LII friends and collaborators Diane Hillmann, John Joergensen, and Rob Richards will be working with our regular team to create the new models and systems.

Those of you who are more interested in technical detail may want to keep an eye on Diane’s Metadata Matters blog, where she’ll be saying more about our technical approach, the Singapore Framework, our suspicion of FRBR, and other things mostly of interest to metadata mavens.

The official press release appears below.

Library of Congress taps LII for Expertise in Legislative Information

The US Library of Congress chose the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University (LII) to help develop new methods to preserve, analyze, organize, and present Congressional legislative information and materials digitally.  The project is headed by LII Director Thomas R. Bruce. Dave Shetland, Sara Frug, and Wayne Weibel will make up the rest of the LII’s team of experts.

Long-time LII collaborators Metadata Management Associates will work with LII on this important project. “This project introduces the idea of a model that reflects the life cycle of legislation–a significantly different model than the one used in traditional library materials,” says Diane Hillmann, Partner at MMA.  Hillmann’s team will be joined by John Joergensen, a law librarian at Rutgers University (Camden), and Robert Richards, each well known for their work in library-based legal informatics.

The work and research LII provides Library of Congress will form the foundation of the Library’s plans to improve digital access to historical and current Congressional legislative information. Important Congressional documents — bills, Presidential documents, committee reports, public laws, and the United States Code among others —  will be better organized and easier to find online for scholars, researchers, and average citizens, alike.  The project will significantly improve public access to Congressional materials through THOMAS — Congress’ main electronic point of access for the public, as well as the Legislative Information System (LIS) used internally by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“We want to connect everything that’s known about a particular piece of legislation — no matter where it is in the process — to every other, and to information about the things and people that surround it — who sponsored it, the things it governs, the process by which it’s prepared, debated, and implemented,” said Tom Bruce, Director of the LII.  “Our aim is to learn everything we can about what Congress, government, and citizens want to do with this information and design an architecture, centered on practical use of the Semantic Web, that will allow them not only to do those things, but things nobody’s thought of yet”.

The Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School (LII, is a not-for-profit group that believes everyone should be able to read and understand the laws that govern them, without cost. We carry out this vision by: Publishing law online, for free; creating materials that help people understand law; and exploring new technologies that make it easier for people to find the law. We are a small research, engineering, and editorial group housed at the Cornell Law School in Ithaca, NY. Our collaborators include publishers, legal scholars, computer scientists, government agencies, and other groups and individuals that promote open access to law, worldwide.

Metadata Management Associates is a partnership of experienced consultants devoted to the development of intelligent metadata management solutions and services, particularly in library and digital library environments. MMA consultants have advised on or developed systems for a variety of clients, and are particularly focused on providing solutions that enable data to operate fully within the Semantic Web.

Philip Ashlock
Open Government Program Manager
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