LexisNexis has announced a project to digitize the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, based on the microfiche set and companion Index created by Congressional Information Service (CIS), a unit of LexisNexis*. An ambitious product roll-out schedule has been established to release the Serial Set through monthly updates within a mere 2-year period beginning in December 2003. Upon completion, users will be able to access content spanning 1789-1969, including 325,000 documents drawn from nearly 13,000 volumes, 52,000 maps, and the American State Papers.
The Serial Set contains all the Reports, Documents, and Journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Serial Set begins with Vol. 1 in the first session of the 15th Congress (1817) and continues to this day. The American State Papers is a retrospective collection of materials originating from 1789 through 1838 but published in the second quarter of the 19th century.
"These advances can have a revolutionary effect on how people conduct historical research, from the historian writing a book to the college student studying political science," said Tim Fusco, LexisNexis vice president of Publishing Operations. "Researchers will be able to pinpoint key information quickly, uncovering data and making correlations they may not have known existed."
Users will be able to search all the elements currently found in the LexisNexis CIS U.S. Serial Set Index as well as perform full-text searches on OCR-generated ASCII text and full bibliographic metadata. Results will consist of metadata describing the retrieved document and a PDF image. Users can print selected pages or the entire document.
LexisNexis is partnering with Apex ePublishing (http://www.apexinc.com/epublishing), to help expedite the digitization process. Apex helps publishers, as well as academic and research libraries, transform archives, special collections, and other source materials into digital information assets.
"This partnership reflects our experience with archival projects and commitment to delivering superior value as well as rapid turnaround," said Joel Poznansky, president of Apex ePublishing. According to Poznansky, for this project, like the company's others, all development and design work will be done in the Apex office in Herndon, Va., while the actual digitization work will be done at Apex production facilities located in various cities across India.
In addition to full-text searches, users will be able to search the collection by:
- Title of document (both CIS descriptive title as well as title on title page)
- Document type (e.g., annual reports, hearings, or private relief actions)
- Statutes at Large citation, bill number, or public law number
- Subject terms
- Keyword indexing to illustrations and statistical tables
- Corporate (committee, president, or agency) or personal authors
- Petitioners or witnesses
- Document/report number
- Serial volume number
- SuDoc number
Fusco stated that the company was able to handle the 2-year production schedule because: "we already have the key foundation—the data, valuable metadata and indexing, and the resources." Representatives from LexisNexis stressed some of the other advantages to be offered by its product, including a familiar interface and functionality, the search power and reliability of the LexisNexis search engine, reasonable pricing, and compliance with federated search software by the December 2005 completion.
Institutions that purchase the Serial Set will receive access through LexisNexis Congressional. Standalone subscriptions are available for institutions that do not subscribe to LexisNexis Congressional. Pricing information has not yet been announced, though discounts will be available for early adopters and for past purchasers of the microfiche or Index. For more information on the LexisNexis U.S. Serial Set Digital Collection, see: http://www.lexisnexis.com/academic/1univ/serial/default.asp.
Regular readers of NewsBreaks may recall a similar digitization announcement in June 2003 from a competitor (http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16686). Readex, a division of NewsBank, Inc., announced the creation of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, Digital Edition. At that time, LexisNexis said it was investigating how to best build a digitized version of the Serial Set that would meet "both the research needs and the budgetary realities of academic and public libraries across the country."
The Readex project is based on the masters from its microprint Serial Set, supplemented by other collections. And, under a cooperative agreement with the Library of Congress, Readex is creating full-color digital images of approximately 13,000 maps from documents in the set. Results are presented as GIF images, with the option to view in either TIFF or PDF.
The Readex indexing is provided by an on-site editorial staff that inputs full, new descriptive metadata for every publication including many elements not found in the text of the documents. Subject terms are applied by human intelligence according to the Legislative Indexing Vocabulary of the Library of Congress.
David Braden, Readex vice president of sales and marketing, said that at Readex, the objective was not simply to digitize a microprint collection but rather to work with the Library of Congress, the Senate Library, and many other repositories across the nation, to aim for a more complete digital resource than any existing single set. He commented, "Readex is building the high-end product."
Braden said that because of the competitive market, it was pushing up its timetable. The first phase is due for release by the end of September, followed by monthly installments. The entire U.S. Congressional Serial Set Digital Edition, from the American State Papers through 1980, will be completed by December 2008.
* Note: In late 1979, Elsevier Publishers (now LexisNexis' parent company, known as Reed Elsevier) acquired CIS, which was a privately held company that was started in 1969.