Two state officials are on a mission to make libraries the public’s hub for government data

News organizations and public-interest groups are skilled at sussing out difficult-to-navigate government data when they need it, but freedom-of-information laws aren’t as friendly to the public in general. Two states, though, are figuring out ways to deliver information sets to regular citizens who want to find things for themselves.

In parts of California and Washington, that service is being delivered at public libraries as part of growing program that trains librarians to handle open data requests from their patrons. The program, Data Equity for Main Street, is aimed at making local libraries — especially those in small towns and rural areas — hubs for where people can learn more about how they’re being served.

“When trust of government institutions is at an all-time low, you have a government institution that people don’t realize is a government institution that they trust,” Anne Neville, the director of the California State Library’s research bureau, said during a presentation of the open data program at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers Midyear Conference in Baltimore on Tuesday. Read more…