Mapping Information Access is a collaborative academic research project to study and understand the landscape of information access and availability in public schools and libraries in the United States.
There are over 18,000 public school districts and over 9,000 public library systems in the United States. Each of these institutions serves as a central node of information access for the communities they serve. Administrators must balance ideals of free speech and information with concerns about social norms, age-appropriateness, and budgets. These decisions then shape the flow of information to students, patrons, and other constituents.
Yet the contours of this flow are not well understood. There exists no comprehensive record of the sorts of challenges faced, or decisions made, regarding access to information by administrators and stakeholders at public schools and libraries.
Our goal is to change that. Our team has deep experience and expertise in library science, civic media, and data journalism. We are using public data from the NCES and IMLS to request public records from every public school district and library system in the United States. We intend to assemble the most comprehensive data set to date to help people better understand the important, hard challenges and decisions that public information institutions must face every day.
We will be using this site to help guide institutions in responding to our requests and to engage a community of interest by sharing some of our findings along the way.