Project Description

The research team from the Department of Library and Information Science (DLIS) at Indiana University in Indianapolis (IUPUI) will explore the practices of community data reusers, with the aim to offer insights into developing and adapting public-library services to meet community data reusers’ needs.

Data possess significant potential to address current societal problems (e.g., in education, health, economic development, and the environment) not only at the federal and state levels but also in smaller communities and neighborhoods and the lives of individuals. Given this emerging community context for data reuse, public librarians can play an important role in facilitating community-level interaction with data. This project will support community members’ data reuse by connecting them with existing resources and data infrastructure, with the goal to create equitable access to the vast data stores being collected about users’ communities, particularly through the public libraries’ engagement with data and communities. To better support communities, the project team will (1) describe community members’ data-reuse practices and strategies and (2) map these practices and strategies to existing infrastructure, focusing on public libraries.

This three-year project will follow a multi-phase research design. In phase 1, the project team will conduct interviews and surveys with community data reusers to understand their data practices and reuse workflow. The results will support development of a theoretical model of community-inclusive data exchange/workflow. In phase 2, the team will conduct a study on librarians to investigate their roles in supporting their communities’ data needs, efforts, services, challenges, and opportunities and the knowledge and skills librarians need to effectively deploy data services. In phase 3, the team will utilize the findings to improve or develop library services and will collaborate with partner libraries to design prototype library services.

This project will capture knowledge of community members’ current data workflow to identify barriers and to propose a model for community-inclusive data workflow; advance understanding of public librarians’ role and potential to support community members’ data reuse; and contribute to a collaborative data-reuse culture among local data infrastructure by helping public libraries design data services to support community members’ needs and by offer useful educational resources for librarians to perform such roles. Three major audiences will benefit from the project: community members (citizens) interested in using/reusing data for developing their communities and making decisions relevant to their lives; local data infrastructure and organizations that provide data services and assistance to diverse data reusers, including community members; and public librarians who want to build their capacity to meet community members’ data needs.