Constitution Annotated gets a new website from Library of Congress

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It’s Constitution Day, and the Library of Congress is celebrating with a new Constitution-focused website geared toward use by the general public.

The address constitution.congress.gov is the new digital home of “Constitution Annotated,” a Congressional Research Service product that allows users to “read about the Constitution in plain English” and get “a comprehensive overview of how the Constitution has been interpreted over time.”

“To be successful, collections must be used,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. “That’s why I’m excited about the Constitution Annotated getting a new website. It’s a great example of what we mean when we say we’re putting our users first. We’ve taken some of the most comprehensive analysis of our Constitution — the laws that make America what it is — and we’re making them easier for everyone to use.”

Constitution Annotated has been around forever — it has been the official record of the constitution since its creation in 1911. In 2010, Congress asked that the document be made available for the general public, and in 2013 the library published the document online and through a mobile app.

That release had some weaknesses, though — the document was published as downloadable PDFs (not the most user-friendly approach) and the app only worked on iOS devices.

The new site makes a searchable, HTML version of the document available.

Demand Progress’ Daniel Schuman called the new site “a significant step in the right direction.”

“We welcome today’s progress,” Schuman and Amelia Strauss wrote for First Branch Forecast. But they have a suggestion for what comes next as well — “we encourage the Library to go a step further by publishing the treatise as data, such as in the XML format in which it is prepared (or perhaps a cleaned-up version).”

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Carla Hayden, Congress, congressional research service, Constitution Annotated, Daniel Schuman, Demand Progress, Library of Congress
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