WA State Library and Data Equity for Mainstreet

Open government data advocates believe this relatively new information source can improve government transparency and efficiency and provide a platform for innovation, but much of the general public remains unfamiliar with it. An environmental scan conducted during the Open Data Literacy summer internship at the Washington State Library explored two little-researched topics: the extent of open data published by local government, and public libraries’ roles in open data publishing and instruction. Librarians contacted believed open data to be strongly tied to the library’s core mission, and said libraries should offer instruction to patrons, although they differed on whether to offer classes or instruct patrons individually as needed. Many libraries also wanted to help local government publish open data, by sharing library expertise in working with users, using data to demonstrate value, and embracing open information. While two thirds of Washington State’s counties and a handful of large cities were found to be publishing open data, most of the data was Geographic Information System (GIS) maps of boundaries and landmarks – not public safety incidents, traffic activity or other data popular with the public. Based on librarian recommendations, I recommend the State Library add a central open data resource guide to the “Library Services” section of its website, and explore options for providing a statewide platform for local open data publishing.

Project Details

Date: Jun 1, 2018

Author: Kathleen Sullivan

Categories: project

Tagged: data literacy, civic data, open data

Client: Washington State Library


Related Works.

Context for Communities: Seattle and Metadata Standards for Civic Data

OCIO Geospatial Program

Open Data Unconference

Opening Up the Data

Total Resource Observation Utility Team (TROUT)

WA State Public Meetings System

Waste 2 Resources


Implementing an Open Data Alliance

WSDOT Public Disclosure Requests

Aalyzing Public Records Requests

WA State Library and Data Equity for Mainstreet


Open Data Literacy is a collaborative project led by the Information School at the University of Washington in partnership with public institutions that create, manage, and publish open data. Open Data Literacy is funded by a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


The Information School
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98105

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