Target Audience: Reference librarians who assist patrons in locating federal legislative history documents; librarians and legal research instructors who are interested in learning about how legislative history research is efficiently, yet effectively, facilitated in a variety of library environments
1) Participants will be able to identify specific strategies and resources to employ in different types of library environments to assist patrons in beginning legislative history research.
2) Participants will be able to assess the benefits and limitations of particular print and electronic resources, as such resources relate to finding evidence of legislative intent.
A law library patron walks up to the reference desk and says: “I have this statute, and I need find out why Congress passed it.” What is a reference librarian to do? Depending on the library, and perhaps the particular patron, the answer may be to consult a print index to a collection of government documents in microform. In another library, there may be compiled legislative histories in print or electronic format that can meet the patron’s needs. Still, elsewhere, a database may serve as a one-stop shop for searching and retrieving committee reports and hearings and legislative debates. The panel will engage in a role-play and roundtable discussion on how law librarians from various types of institutions can quickly, yet thoroughly, utilize available resources to help patrons find the materials that just may answer the question: “What were they thinking?”