August 23, 2012
Getting Involved in Gov. 2.0, Part I: What is your institution's top priority for open government data?
"There’s plenty of data out there. What are you doing with it? How can you manipulate raw free resources into something good for your institution?" -- Meg Lulofs
In Open data in a librarian hat: What's your Number One?, public law librarian Meg Lulofs makes the case that mission-specific institutional objectives on ways and means to use open government data should be the number one priority for promoting its value:
With respect to open gov data: government accountability is not unimportant to me as a voter. However, as a law librarian, I need to focus on Number Ones with more specific, smaller-scale goals than transparency, that will create measurable outcomes, allowing me to show concrete value to my institution. The big picture of how information is available, and the relationship between the government and the governed is important, but it doesn’t always get you funding, and it can’t always answer the question of the patron in front of you.
When Lulofs writes "we library-types, we information professionals, we decision makers, and perhaps we citizens need to narrow open gov to make it work for us," I don't believe she is calling for the open gov data movement to reduce its comprehensive focus. I prefer to think that Lulofs is calling upon us to narrow our focus on specific institutional and/or shared institutional interests in the utilitarian benefits of having open access to the govenment data to use.
While Lulofs makes a good case to institutional-specific objectives, a more pragmatic case can be made for supporting the development of tools and programs to utilize open gov data based on the shared interests of specific types of libraries in general and different types of law libraries in particular. The key here, as Lulofs highlights, is to craft raw open data into resources that address the information needs of library users. [JH]