From our report:
We also recommend that:
THOMAS provide permanent links to all documents, in an obvious way, to enable Web researchers to directly refer to these documents
Legislative Handles are a new persistent URL service for creating links to legislative documents from the THOMAS web site (http://thomas.loc.gov). With a simple syntax, Legislative Handles make it easy to type in legislative links to bibliographies, reference guides, emails, blogs, or web pages. Legislative Handles, for instance, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.110hconres196, are a convenient way to cite legislation.
This matters because linking is one of the most basic components of online dialog. Without citations and primary sources, commentary and analysis are just opinion and rumor.
The “Handles” allow a simple procedure for linking to specific legislation, without that link expiring, as often happens if you create a link to a bill’s page accessed through a search.
This is a great first step toward modernizing THOMAS. We’d love to see additional changes, like access to bulk legislative data, or permanent links automatically created within bill pages. As it stands now, however, it’s great that THOMAS is recognizing the needs of its users, and helping the public create permanent links to legislation is long-awaited first step towards doing just that.