Since the time of ancient Greece, the public library has been an important civic institution in support of democracy. With their provision of free, accessible information at the community scale, public libraries have a long history that tightly aligns with the goals of progressive local governments now engaging in open data efforts. While libraries and librarians have long positioned themselves as leaders in animating open-information provision, local government open data efforts, thus far, have been more focused on how city hall can make data available rather than engaging people with its use. This paper considers the manner in which public libraries are well positioned to act as intermediaries that render this data useful to the general public. The authors employ the term civic infomediaries to describe how these nonpartisan public institutions have the ability to connect community members with open data in a meaningful and civically engaged manner. This paper first explains the importance of ensuring that open data is accessible and useful to a nonexpert public and then explores the ways in which libraries have the capacity to connect users with open data resources, provide access to necessary technology, and act as a hub for civic digital activities. Ultimately, this paper argues that local government staff with open data responsibilities could be more active in engaging in partnerships with public librarians to create a more dynamic and robust open-government ecosystem.
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