In collaboration with librarians from the University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, I planned a local Data Rescue event to connect to the network of events taking place across the country in early 2017. The event was held at the Main branch of CLP in April 2017 and focused on archiving government data related to climate change. Our event brought together students, faculty, and other interested citizens in the Pittsburgh area to talk about data, learn about the precarity of government information in the digital age, and engage in some of the technical work of preservation.
Preparing for this event included a great deal of collaboration across institutions. Our two main tasks were logistics and gaining an understanding of the preservation workflow that we would be using. We worked with the facilitators of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) and PPEH DataRefuge at the initial stages of planning the event. We also partnered with the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center for sponsorship and community support. We familiarized ourselves with the workflow to the extent needed to find expert collaborators within the local community. The highly technical Harvesting and Checking/Bagging tracks were entirely volunteer-run.
I prepared documentation for each track based on the Data Refuge workflow. These were distributed to participants before the event to help them choose a track and understand the steps that would be involved.
On the day of the event, the coordinators focused on the initial education component and traffic directing. Over 40 people showed up to work together on this project, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette covered the event.
This event demonstrated the interest and capacity of the Pittsburgh community to engage with topics such as government information and data preservation. As the first community event that I helped to plan, I was stunned by the level of engagement. I hope to find more topics which speak to my local context in such an immediate and actionable way.
The website for the event can be viewed at https://datarescuepgh.wordpress.com.