Posted by Jim Craner on March 15, 2019

With the news this week that the Trump Administration is trying to destroy the Institute for Museum and Library Services - for the third year in a row - library advocates across the United States snapped into action.  ALA fired up a "send an email to your representative" tool as well as an interactive table for looking up your representative's and senator's respective votes on past library funding bills.  As BookRiot says, not hyperbolically: "[d]efunding the IMLS would effectively end all federal funding of public libraries."

What if you want to plan your own advocacy efforts?  As a local library board member myself, I thought it might be interesting to find out which of our regional libraries are in the same congressional district as my own library.  This is a moot point for libraries in states like Alaska or Montana with only a single "at-large" congressional representative.  But thanks to gerrymandering, it's possible for libraries hundreds of miles apart to be in the same district while libraries across the county are represented by someone else.

So what are the libraries within the Illinois 18th congressional district?  I couldn't find a tool that would let me find out that information so I decided to build one!  I started by using data that I downloaded from IMLS itself, at their data catalog website.  Because the built-in interface isn't as flexible, I downloaded the data to Galecia's "Library Open Data Explorer" website, which has more features for analyzing data.

screenshot of Data Explorer of Library datatable

A quick filter later and I was able to create a map and a list of all of the library entities in my district!

map of libraries in the IL-18th congressional district

Want to learn more?  We've created a searchable list of every congressional district's libraries that you can access here.