Public Libraries and Open Data Survey

In collaboration with the Washington State Library, the Open Data Literacy Project is conducting a survey about public library interests and activities in open government data in the state of Washington.

Books and Data

Based at the Information School at the University of Washington (UW), the Open Data Literacy (ODL) project is funded by an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant.

Open data connects to many core library values, such as open access, information literacy, and civic engagement. As the open data movement grows, we want to better understand and support public libraries in helping the public access and use open data.

What is open data?

Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used, and redistributed by anyone. (Open Data Handbook, n.d.)

Open data promotes transparency, citizen involvement, innovation, informed decision-making, and action, benefiting individuals, communities, government, and business.

What is the public library's role in open data?

Public libraries have a long history of helping their communities find, use, and learn about new information resources and technologies, and they are beginning to step into new roles that support the open data movement. Some are publishing library data as open data, some are acting as consultants to their local governments on open data best practices, and others are educating users how to find and work with open data.

To see an example of a library doing all of the above, visit the Edmonton Public Library's web page on open data. For more on libraries and open data, read this blog post and review this presentation (PDF) on the role of libraries in open data literacy.

What is the Open Data Literacy Project?

Open Data Literacy (ODL) aims to:

  1. Prepare future and current public librarians and information professionals to:
    1. curate collections of open data of value to local communities
    2. build the necessary infrastructure and preservation environments to sustain open data collections for the long-term
  2. Collaborate with public sector agencies and open data providers on initiatives, advocacy, and outreach activities that increase awareness and use of open data by the public.

ODL advances data literacy by developing new curriculum for students and public librarians; coordinating internships, fieldwork, and action research projects between UW and public institutions with open data initiatives; and, producing educational resources and opportunities. Because ODL believes libraries are well-positioned to promote open data literacy, much of ODL’s research centers around the role of libraries in the open data movement.

ODL works with a diverse and expanding set of partners, including the Washington State Library, Seattle Public Library, Washington State Department of Transportation, City of Seattle, and State of Washington’s Office of Innovation.


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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