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Grant allows SoIC faculty to explore use of open data

February 23, 2022

SoIC faculty Andrea Copeland and Ayoung Yoon have received a $349,084 National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop public library services relevant to open data.

Andrea Copeland

Andrea Copeland

Copeland, an associate professor and Ph.D., is chair and program director of the Department of Library and Information Science at the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI. Yoon, Ph.D., is an associate professor with the department.

They are co-principal investigators for the open data project, IMLS grant LG-250098-OLS-21.

The public access revolution

Open data allows public access to information about a wide variety of topics, including scientific research, clinical trials, public safety, and school enrollment. This data is freely available online for anyone to use, modify, and share.

Ayoung Yoon

Ayoung Yoon

Media outlets and research centers—as well as international, federal, state, and municipal agencies—maintain open data sites, such as Indiana’s Management Performance Hub.

Breaking new ground

Copeland and Yoon are focusing on community open data engagement. “Our effort is unique and the first of its kind in the field of public libraries,” Yoon says.

“More and more public libraries are increasingly participating in the open data movement by providing open data access, public programming, data workforce development, and civic data engagement through partnerships with local data intermediaries.”

This is the second time the research team has been honored with a grant from IMLS. The institute is an independent federal agency that works to support and empower U.S. museums and libraries through grants, research, and policy development.

A model for community engagement

Copeland and Yoon will continue work begun under their previous IMLS grant, developing a model for community open data engagement (mCode) focusing on data that is freely available for anyone to utilize and publish.

“The opportunity to continue the work that Dr. Yoon and I started 3 years ago and to include community partners throughout has allowed our research to evolve alongside local data practices, Copeland says. “We are learning as our community partners are, we are truly co-creating new knowledge together.”

Building on knowledge

Yoon notes, “This model was developed from our previous research project, by conducting various research activities, including community interviews, libraries interviews, and library patron surveys.”

“Now,” she says, “we want to test and validate the model to seek out generalizability of the model and test the potential scalability.”

The project examines how public libraries enable patrons to work with open data, and the ways they provide services using it. Copeland and Yoon are focusing on how libraries:

  • Promote open data access
  • Provide data literacy instructions for the public
  • Develop library programing from open data
  • Develop internal data capacity for future service development

Working with library systems

“There remain notable gaps between public libraries that are actively participating in open data and those that are not,” Yoon notes, “due to differences in capacity and resources.

“Our project fills this gap by providing resources and recommendations in developing open data services.”

The professors are working with two library systems in Indiana — Indianapolis and Evansville Vanderburgh public libraries — as well as Ann Arbor District Library in Michigan, and Spokane Public Library in Washington.

“We were very excited to have them joined in our project,” Yoon says, “because of their strong interests and passion for developing open data services for their communities.”


The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums, advancing and empowering them through grantmaking, research, and policy development.

Copeland, whose research area is public libraries and community engagement, also is Co-PI of the IMLS funded project Data Reuse for Local Communities (LG-96-17-0184-17) investigating community data reuse practice.

Yoon’s research focuses on data curation, data reuse, and open data engagement. She was PI of the previous IMLS funded project Library Capacity Assessment and Development for Big Data Curation (LG-72-17-0139-17).

The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Media Contact

Joanne Lovrinic