Thing 2: Dabbling in Open Data - musings over an afternoon cuppa

For the past 14 months I've been working on secondment as an administrative civil servant in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and not as a librarian at all. The area I have been involved in is that of progressing the Irish Government's Open Data Initiative. The area was new to me so it was quite a challenge to get up to speed quickly.

The definition of Open Data is that it is data that can be freely used, re-used and re-distributed by anyone, subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike. See

The thrust of the Government's Open Data Initiative is to encourage the release and publication of Public Bodies' data as open data in appropriate machine readable formats and under an open licence with a view to encouraging its use and re-use by all stakeholders.  To facilitate discovery of this data, a national Open Data Portal at has been created which provides a single point of access to multiple sources of data. The Portal is a linking rather than a hosting site. The recommended licence is Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0. Standards around formats, metadata and other matters are included in the Technical Framework available on the Portal. The Portal harvests from regional portals such as those of the Local Authorities and HSE and is in turn harvested by the European Open Data Portal. The Open Data e-learning modules developed by the European Data Portal are available on the national portal for anyone who would like to learn more about Open Data and a training framework is available for Irish public bodies to receive customised training on Open Data.

Another area of work was the development and launch of the national Open Data Strategy 2017-2022. A number of key stakeholders were involved in the significant consultation process around forming the Strategy. These included business, academia and researchers, civil society, public bodies but also and importantly library and information professionals as it was recognised that this latter group have particular skills and expertise that can usefully contribute to the success of the Open Data Initiative. As a librarian myself, I was delighted to support the inclusion as this group as a unique stakeholder in their own right. The ultimate aim of the strategy is to encourage the release of 'Open Data by default' and to realise the benefits that this can bring to all aspects of life.

One thing that struck me about my time in Open Data so far is that it is close to library and information management in many ways, particularly concerning the importance of standards and metadata. I found this article by CILIP on the relationship between libraries and Open Data interesting. It's an exciting time to be in Open Data but also in libraries as we navigate the demands for data-driven everything. My time in Open Data will soon be coming to a close but I have enjoyed the experience and look forward to bringing my learnings to my next role.