Public Access to CRS Reports (2015 update)

The publicly funded reports you can’t read” is a recent piece over at Politico that provides a bit of background on some recent legislation that would make these wonderful reports available to the public.

The last time I noted the ongoing push to open up CRS reports, in 2012, I highlighted two points that are still true today:

Cover – CRS Report R41664

1) CRS reports are outstanding sources. These reports are:

  • usually fairly brief (under 30 pages);
  • written in plain English;
  • meticulously researched; and
  • heavily footnoted.

If you are looking into a federal legislative history question or a public-policy issue that is of interest to Congress, you would be remiss if you didn’t check for a CRS Report. If you don’t find a  report, noting that absence in your research log makes you look like you know what you’re doing, research-wise. And if you do find one, it’s guaranteed to clarify your issues and lead you to other sources.

UCI community members can search for CRS Reports in ProQuest Congressional.

2) Most CRS reports are not freely available. ProQuest Congressional does indeed include a comprehensive set of non-classified CRS reports, starting with 1916. But this access is subscription-based—you’re out of luck if you’re not a member of the UCI community. Various legislative efforts over the years have tried to change that. So if you’ve found CRS reports valuable in the past, and if you’d support making them more widely available, this is a great time to contact your representative and let him or her know.

Voxgov.com – give it a try! (by Oct. 31)

search facets - voxgov.com - including date, legislative source, party, gender
Search facets from Voxgov.com

Let the UCI Libraries know what you think of Voxgov.com, a system that lets you efficiently search government news and other information from a variety of sources, including social media.

What this means for researchers is that you can search for something like “Benghazi Hearing,” and then narrow by legislative chamber, date, political party, and even gender. Search results seem to indicate that Republicans are saying a lot more about this issue than Democrats. (Does your favorite free Google-Bing-iPedia search do this well? Mine doesn’t.) From their “About”:

  • Find official U.S. Federal Government documents, legislation, releases and social media updates from all three branches of the U.S. Federal Government, offices, officials and elected representatives
  • Data includes official news, media and information including press releases, transcripts, fact sheets, newsletters, bulletins, speeches, statements, Legislation, Congressional Documents, the Regulatory Documents and much more
  • See what U.S. Federal Government offices, officials and elected representatives say on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube
  • Side-by-side comparison of government documents based on a wide range of selectable groups
  • Content is both archival and near real-time, current news
  • Search suggestions based on content trends and popular queries
  • Drill-down to easily investigate topics, people or issues.

Send any feedback to Dan Tsang, dtsang@uci.edu. The UC Irvine trial runs through October 31, 2015.

New on the shelves – September 2015

water-coverOur list of new books is now updated.

Last month’s new books included titles on intellectual property, academic success for law students, and international law, among other topics. One of these “other” books covers a newsworthy topic in Southern California right now—water. Historian John R. Burch, Jr surveys the history of this area in Water Rights and the Environment in the United States : a Documentary and Reference Guide. From the publisher’s abstract:

“[The author] reviews the conflicts among state, federal, and international agencies in dealing with water supply and points to competing legal rulings and laws as undermining the creation of a cohesive policy for all. Through an analysis of key documents, [the author] examines the recent calamities befalling the American water system—including droughts, oil spills, and natural disasters—and considers the future of water distribution to the American people. Organized into six parts, sections include doctrines and rights, waters of the West, border regions water management and flood control, environmental issues, and water supply and safety.

Check it out upstairs in the Reading Room at KF 5569 .B87 2015.

And for a more current, on-the-ground take on state and local water issues, come to the law school’s October 28 lunchtime talk with guest speaker Felicia Marcus, Chair of the California Water Resources Control Board.

The Law Library’s collection is constantly growing as we purchase books and other resources to support the scholarly and clinical work of faculty and students. Please let us know if you have a suggestion for a new book.

New on the shelves – August 2015

new-book-making-modern-american-fiscal-stateOur list of new books is now updated.

Last month’s new books included titles on education, climate change, and legal careers. We also received a few new “non-legal” titles that are shelved with the social sciences titles, downstairs in the stacks. One of these, Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877-1929, by Ajay K Mehrotra, was highlighted on the TaxProf Blog earlier this year:

Mehrotra’s award-winning book is a tour de force. It chronicles a transformative period in the development of the American fiscal state during which the old order — characterized by indirect, hidden, mercilessly regressive, and partisan taxation — gave way to a direct, transparent, steeply progressive, and professionally administered tax regime. …Mehrotra identifies and informs all of the relevant schools of thought about state-building at the turn of the century, including the influence of national crises, the “corporate liberal” view that Progressive Era reforms were designed to deflect more radical change, “progressive” historical accounts of ineluctable advancement and “great men,” and “democratic-institutionalism” as advanced not just by historians but also political scientists, sociologists, and economists.1

Check it out downstairs in the Stacks at HJ 2373 .M44 2013.

The Law Library’s collection is constantly growing as we purchase books and other resources to support the scholarly and clinical work of faculty and students. Please let us know if you have a suggestion for a new book.

1 Dennis J. Ventry Jr., Book Review, 46 J. Interdisc. Hist. 133 (2015), via Paul Caron, Ventry Reviews Mehrotra’s Making the Modern American Fiscal State, TaxProf Blog, (Jun. 3, 2015), http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/06/ventry-reviews-mehrotras-.html.

Tax Notes Updates

taxNotes2015Now you can set up a password to read TaxNotes publications on their spiffy new site.

To sign up:

  1. Make sure you’re on the UCI Law network (either on a desktop at the Law School, or logged into the VPN.)
  2. Click “SIGN IN” in the blue menu bar area towards the top left.
  3. Follow the steps to register.

You must be within the law library’s IP range for the initial sign up. But after signing up, you can use your ID and password to access Taxnotes.com anywhere.

The sign up process only takes a minute, and you can select specific tax topics of interest. There’s a short video for sign-up help at www.taxnotes.com/user#help-login-ip (skip ahead to around the 30 second mark to skip the intro.)

New on the shelves – July 2015

Our list of new books is now updated.dying-with-dignity-cover

July was an eclectic month for new books, with subjects ranging from grocery store law, to a history of legal aid in the U.S., to law in the work of philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

One of our new books is Dying with Dignity by Professor Giza Lopes. Assisted death has been in the statewide news this month1 as the California legislature reconsiders right-to-die legislation, and UCI is hosting a public debate on Doctor Assisted Suicide in September with Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and School of Medicine Professor Aaron Kheriaty. Dying with Dignity provides historical and comparative context for the issue. From the publisher’s abstract:

“Spanning a period from 1906 to the present day, [the book] examines how and why pleas for legalization of “euthanasia” made at the beginning of the 20th century were transmuted into the physician-assisted suicide laws in existence today, in the United States as well as around the world. After an introductory section that discusses the phenomenon of “medicalization” of death, author Giza Lopes, PhD, covers the history of the legal development of “aid-in-dying” in the United States, focusing on case studies from the late 1900s to today, then addresses assisted death in select European nations. The concluding section discusses what the past legal developments and decisions could portend for the future of assisted death.”

Check it out downstairs in the Stacks at K 3611.E95 L67 2015.

The Law Library’s collection is constantly growing as we purchase books and other resources to support the scholarly and clinical work of faculty and students. Please let us know if you have a suggestion for a new book.

1. See, e.g., Patrick McGreevy & Chris Megerian, California Lawmakers Revive Measures on Assisted Suicide, Smoking Age, L.A. Times (Aug. 18, 2015), http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-california-lawmakers-bring-back-aid-in-dying-bill-for-special-session-20150817-story.html.

A new look for ProQuest

ProQuest-2015
Snapshot of an updated ProQuest screen.

Journal editors: take note again! Starting on August 20, another popular resource for scanned PDF sources is changing for the better. Several ProQuest systems will get a refreshed look, including:

(Sadly, no update yet for ProQuest Digital Microfilm. This is the handiest campus resource for full-page scans of some of the biggest US papers: Barron’s, LA Times, NY Times, WSJ, and Washington Post, starting in 2008.)