EveryLibrary can create their own EveryBlock

January 24, 2008 § Leave a comment

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Curious to see if any murders occurred on your block last week? Any building violations in your neighborhood? Then EveryBlock is the site for you (as long as you live in Chicago, New York, or San Francisco, that is).

EveryBlock went live this week and TechCrunch has a good overview. Basically the site aggregates local information down to the block level. For EveryBlock, “local information” means things like photos, restaurant reviews, crime reports, building permits / violations, and news. A notable value of EveryBlock is that while it aggregates data that is already “out there” on the web (from sites like Craigslist, Yelp, flickr, various government entities), that data is often not available in a useful or easily accessible format. The crime reports from NYC, for example, are only available from the NYPD site in pdf format and the NYPD site only maintains the current week’s data.

Overall, the site is slick-looking and easy to use.  There are all sorts of feeds. On the down side, only three cities are available and the news seems especially slight. This is a valuable and evolving tool that libraries can monitor and leverage to draw out information relevant to their communities.

Of course, I see sites like this and I think that libraries should be in this business, need to be in this business. If libraries are in the information business (whether that info comes in a book, a DVD, or online) AND libraries really are all about community then, why aren’t libraries creating resources like these? Why can’t libraries be the ones that, to use the example here, grab the crimes reports from their local police department web sites and make that data more easily and broadly available? It does not have to be as “high tech” as EveryBlock — creating a locally-focused blog or wiki would suffice. The web is localizing and libraries can take advantage of it!

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