The following libraries led projects in 2020 that increased their capacity as a key participant in their local civic data ecosystem. In each awarded project, the library worked with one or more local community data partner organizations, and its proposed work demonstrated a commitment to understanding and engaging its local civic data ecosystem. The following project teams were able to successfully adapt their orginial proposals to align with the pandemic restrictions. Keep reading for a summary of the projects and their key take aways and find the full case studies in the Civic Switchboard Guide.

Durham, NC - The School of Library and Information Sciences Library at North Carolina Central University (NCCU)

In partnership with DataWorks and The County of Durham

Hacking into History: Discovering Racial Covenants in Durham’s Property Deeds

While the history of redlining and its impact on American cities is increasingly well-known, the similarly widespread practice of encoding racially restrictive covenant clauses on property deeds has received significantly less attention. Faculty at The School of Library and Information Sciences partnered with community organizations and residents to to engage citizens of Durham county in building an online collection of transcriptions of these covenants. One important finding was about process: the project team learned early on that they would need help facilitating community meetings to make sure they addressed the emotional effects of reading the restrictive language in the deeds. This project demonstrates that libraries (in this case, researchers within Library & Information Science) can serve a lead role in engaging with local stakeholders on public records information. Read the full case study here.

Chicago, IL - The University of Chicago Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship

In partnership with DataMade and The University of Chicago Law Library

Making a Case for Mediated Access: Engaging with Chicago Criminal Justice-Related Data

The University of Chicago Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship partnered with data intermediary DataMade to address challenges around the accessibility of inherently problematic data - specifically criminal justice data. The project team brought together data users from across fields to hear speakers and participate in discussion. The events centered the communities with the most risk for harm from the data. The project team had to pivot due to COVID restrictions but was able to hold successful virtual events and learn more about the challenges people face using the data and find that there is an interest in a continued community of practice related to criminal justice data in the region. Read the full case study here.

Indianapolis, IN - Indianapolis Public Library

In partnership with The Polis Center at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis and WFYI Public Radio

Data and Drafts: A New Audience for Civic Data and Community Research

The Indianapolis Public Library partnered with data intermediary the Polis Center at IUPUI and WFYI to expand the audience of the Center’s community data talks. The project also supported an audience of library staff, training public services staff to use community data to support programming and patron needs. The team found virtual sessions to work in their favor - widening their audience and making using data less intimidating. Read the full case study here.

South Bend, IN - St. Joseph County Public Library

In partnership with City of South Bend and University of Notre Dame

South Bend Civic Data Community Partnership Project

St. Joseph County Public Library worked with local government and university partners to assess the data capacity of community organizations in the region. Informed by a survey of local nonprofits, they produced a comprehensive report highlighting challenges these organizations face in using and accessing data. The project underlined the importance of regular discussions between community partners and those – such as libraries – who wish to support their data needs. Through this effort the team came to recognize the barriers the organizations are facing were less likely related to accessing data but to time and staff capacity to use the data. Next steps include facilitating recurring community conversations and building focused trainings to meet community needs. Read the full case study here.

Spokane, WA - Spokane Public Library

In partnership with Eastern Washington University Institute for Public Policy & Economic Analysis (EWU)

Grounding Open Data in a People-Centered Ecosystem

The Spokane Public Library is distinctive in having a Community Data Coordinator position shared between the City of Spokane and the Library. Working through this connection, the library is partnering with the City to convene data producers and data users, to develop a master data management plan, and to work towards governance policies and goals for open data for the City of Spokane. The library’s role in the partnership has included bringing a focus on data ethics and community care. Read the full case study here.