Public Data Librarians

If you go looking for a data librarian, you'll most likely spot one working in a top research institution supporting an elite group of faculty and students. But as more and more cities release their open data to the public, shouldn't a librarian be on deck to help citizens explore and leverage this new resource?

In a chapter written for Reference Librarianship and Justice: History, Praxis, and Practice (coming 2018), I explore the social justice need for the creation of public data librarians, and ways to make it happen. 


Cultural Heritage and Linked Open Data

Go to any library/archive party, and you'll find someone excitedly talking about the potential of linked open data.  (If you rolled your eyes at that last sentence, clearly you're not going to the right parties.)  Linked Open Data is a utopian idea building off our earliest conceptions of the Internet. What if we could jump from dataset to dataset, much like we click from website to website, and not have to worry about the many different ways we structure, organize and store that data? 

Working with my graduate school colleagues at the Pratt Institute, I surveyed the ways that Linked Open Data standards were being used to open up cultural heritage archives to the public, from interactive websites to virtual reality mobile apps.  We presented our findings in a presentation titled Linked Open Data for Cultural Heritage: Evolution of an Information Technology at the SIGDOC conference in 2013. 


Government Data and the 99%

How well does our government collect data that represents our experiences as Americans?  

Using court documents, transcripts of Congressional hearings, and local legislation, I pieced together a narrative of the Occupy Wall Street movement as seen by the very structures the movement opposed.  While government documents failed to capture the communities springing up in Zuccotti Park and other public spaces around the country, they did describe the breadth and scope of the Occupy Movement, and prove that the 99% did capture officials' attention at every level of government.

Occupy Wall Street: A Brief History of the 99% was published in Documents to the People in 2013.