Common barriers to getting started

Through this project, we’ve learned about common barriers to entry that libraries are navigating. This section overviews some of these challenges and points to places in guide that may provide help.

Feeling unqualified

You aren’t! There are many roles the library can play when stepping into in this space. Check out Library roles where we outline why libraries fit right in to civic data ecosystems. And draw inspiration from the varied work that libraries are doing by reading the Case Studies in this guide.

Lack of urgency

With constraints on library workers' time and library resources, you might find that some in your organization view building civic data capacity as a low priority. We offer some recommendations about connecting the work to your mission and finding resource support that may help prioritize this work in your organization: Finding resources to support civic data work; Connecting to your library mission.

Finding capacity

Related to lack of urgency, civic data work isn’t always top priority as a place to expend capacity. Starting small and building a proof of concept can help build momentum for your work and demonstrate that putting time and capacity into the work is worthwhile. Check out this guidance and read about the experiences of other libraries in this space: Building partnerships into civic data partnerships; Finding resources to support civic data work; Case studies.

Negotiating boundaries

You may be surprised by how robust of a data ecosystem already exists in your area. It may be unclear where your organization can -- and should -- contribute and how to avoid stepping on toes. You'll what to understand what other players in your ecosystem (and in your organization) are doing with civic data. Check out these resources to better understand and/or plan to work with other local organizations include: Finding partners in your ecosystem; Library roles; Mapping your ecosystem; Developing project plan for work.

Building trust and credibility for the library in the civic data space

Libraries may be new to the civic data space and other entities may not know what new role the library intends. When conceptualizing your role in the space and how to be a trusted partner in your ecosystem, check out approaches for mapping the ecosystem and what roles and work other libraries are engaged in: Mapping your ecosystem; Library roles; Case Studies.

Potential negative consequences from publicly available data

Open and civic data can be confusing - both in how it is defined and how it may be used. Transparency and clarity about your library’s goals, processes, partnerships can help quell fears in your organization and among your users about what might be done with open civic data. Here are some resources to take a look at: Ways of thinking about data; 8 considerations for libraries that want to host open data.

Lacking authority to create or encourage to create a single network.

Take your time, build trust. Remember that you don’t have to be the authority. Check out Mapping your ecosystem to see how players are (and aren’t) working together and this one sheeter to remind you why the library has a real role to play in this work.