Civic Switchboard Field Project: Joining Open Data and Archival Collections for Neighborhood Stories in Baltimore

Blog post by Civic Switchboard project team
March 2020

Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance   (Baltimore)

NNIP Partner Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) at the University of Baltimore and the Robert L. Bogomolny Library at the University of Baltimore, MD collaborated on a field project as part of the Civic Switchboard initiative, led by the NNIP partner at the University of Pittsburgh.

Many libraries maintain archives that are rich with information about local history and civic life. Archival collections containing qualitative information, drawn from many points in time, can be a valuable compliment to local civic data, which are often contemporary and quantitative. 

The Baltimore project team members designed learning modules that connected the library's archival collections to the neighborhood indicators partner's community-based open data. Being mindful of sustainability, the project found ways to build their work onto existing programs, structures, and organizational goals. This case study also shows that when forming new partnerships, it is important to take dedicated time for each partner to learn about the other; this lays a foundation necessary for successful collaboration.