May 21, 2022

Research/Journal Article: “Using Open Data to Inform Public Library Branch Services”

Note: A full text preprint/open access version of the article linked below is available here (via


Using Open Data to Inform Public Library Branch Services


Karalyn R Ostler
Information School, University of Washington

Bree Norlander
Information School, University of Washington

Nicholas Weber
Information School, University of Washington


Public Library Quarterly
DOI: 10.1080/01616846.2020.1798206


This article describes the curation and use of open demographic data to inform public library services. A case study of census data curated for the Seattle Public Library (SPL) system is described. To understand the information needs of library branches, a set of SPL regional managers were interviewed, a set of use cases were created, and a prototype dashboard tool using open census data was developed to address the needs of two SPL regions. The utility of available open data to meet the needs of regional managers is reviewed, as well as the potential development of replicable data analysis tools for keeping public libraries aware of shifting neighborhood demographics.

Direct to Published Version

Direct to Preprint Version (Full Text)
20 pages; PDF.

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