Abstract: As more libraries offer "learn to code" and digital skills training programs to patrons of all ages, there is a significant opportunity to offer more sophisticated services for advanced learners, even up to the level of professional workforce development. By partnering with local institutions or online programs, libraries can potentially offer in-house training to their community members who might not be otherwise well-suited for traditional in-person or online training programs.
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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."
Are you going to build a community digital project, like a new online app or map for your city or region? Make sure to check out the project toolkit from the US Census Bureau's "The Opportunity Project" for some great tips and resources! The toolkit includes helpful explanations of the chief steps of planning, building, and supporting a digital product or service - and since it's provided by the Census Bureau, there are tons of links to data sources from federal, state, and local sources.
Something big is coming in 2020 - and we're not talking about the presidential election or the Olympics... it's the decennial US census! And libraries have a critical role to play to ensure that their communities are represented in the census data, and the resulting program dollars that will flow. Thankfully, the US Census Bureau and other organizations are working together to help everyone be counted fairly.
Libraries of all sizes can participate in their local civic tech movement - here are some ideas to get you started!
Project: Learn About Open Data
Data is the foundation for any civic tech application -- and there is more available every day for people working on civic tech projects! “Open data” refers to data released to the public by government agencies. (Yes, this means that your library can even release its own open data sets about circulation, program attendance, most-read books, etc.!)
This document outlines a sequential series of projects that a public library can complete to develop a civic technology presence in their local or regional community. From educating patrons to working with government organizations, libraries can serve as anchors of local civic technology networks, providing a physical space, valuable resources, and the ability to bring community members together.
Maps are an excellent way for people to visualize their local community and the resources within. This hackathon has a focus on serving non-technical attendees. In the morning, attendees will learn about collecting data -- online in the library and on a field trip in the local neighborhood. The focus in the afternoon sessions is placing that data on an interactive map and using other digital tools to visualize it.
The Galecia Group can:
Civic technology is tech -- websites, mobile apps, remote sensors, text message notification services, etc. -- that helps people interact with their government. As accessible, well-respected, community-facing government institutions, public libraries are uniquely positioned to promote civic technology in their communities. The Galecia Group can help your library plan and facilitate a successful “civic tech” hackathon for your community.
Hosting a community hackathon can be a fantastic way to engage your technology-minded patrons while also building valuable connections with other local government agencies!
Interested in building an open data portal for your local community or region? Working with other government agnecies from the start is the best way to ensure success!
Get Buy-In From Leadership
Like any project, building an open data portal requires a champion or some other sort of buy-in from the leadership of all involved entities. Of course, this can be very complicated in a collaborative project where responsibilities cross organizational boundaries. Clear roles and processes should be established for the planning and build-out process.