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Indexes and Abstracts 2

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Congressional Universe
(A Lexis-Nexis Database)

BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION

LexisNexis. (2007). Congressional Universe. LexisNexis. Available with subscription, from https://web.lexis-nexis.com/congcomp

PURPOSE

Congressional Universe, or LexisNexis Congressional, is published as an index to Congressional publications, including legislative histories of bills and laws, members and committees, regulations, Congressional record and rules, and political news and hot topics. Instead of having several print books that are out of date before they are even published and have to be updated with supplements and new volumes, Congressional Universe is updated daily, providing current resources to users all the time.

AUTHORITY

LexisNexis is one of the leading legal information publishers in the publishing industry. The database is updated daily, as information is added to the database.

SCOPE

In order to use LexisNexis Congressional, one will need some training on searching the Lexis-Nexis databases. The audience probably is limited to upper-level college students and beyond. The database also only deals with information related to congressional data, so only those researching congressional data will find this resource to be useful.

FORMAT

The database is formatted in many ways. It cannot be browsed, unfortunately, only searched. There are many ways it can be searched, from general searches (basic, advanced, and search by number) to more specific search forms that include congressional publications, legislative histories, bills & laws, members & committees, regulations, congressional record & rules, and political news/hot topics. A Help guide can assist users in accessing the database’s information.

ARRANGEMENT

As this is a database, there is no formal arrangement to this resource. It is arranged in a way that search terms bring up the entries of congressional information that are found within the database.

ENTRIES

The entries depend on the information searched. An initial search brings up an index of related documents. Depending on the document, it may be available in full text or may just be a citation to a print document.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Special features include the variety of different searches to find congressional information. As the information has been repackaged from government documents, it is all available from one single website, by searching the database.

USE

This database can be used for locating information about congressional documents in one location, rather than using Thomas for bill history, committee websites for committee history, the congressional record website for that information, etc. This database has repackaged most of the congressional information available into a database that is easily searchable and customized to fit users’ needs. However, the only problem with the database is that it does take some orientation to understand how the database works.

CRITIQUE

This resource is a fantastic one-stop congressional research resource. If one is familiar with how other Lexis-Nexis databases work (like the News one), users will be familiar with its structure and searching strategies. If users are not familiar with its structure, they will need some orientation to successfully use the database. Another negative factor of the database is the high cost of a subscription to the database each year. According to the LexisNexis pricelist, Congressional Universe can cost $2,918 per year for a university with a student body under 1,500 FTE (full-time enrollment) students. It is listed at $3,497 for a student body with an FTE of 1,500-2,500. These prices are extravagantly high for a small university. The pricelist did have a note that libraries that are part of consortias may have access to significant discounts to subscribe to this database. Without knowing these prices, while the resource is very beneficial for congressional research, a database that is $3,000-$4,000 per year is probably too expensive for small universities. Only larger universities with large budgets will be able to afford a subscription, unless consortia prices are much lower.

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