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Urban planning and librarianship are parallel fields in many ways. Both have theoretical and practical underpinnings driving each discipline; are interdisciplinary in focus; and both professions gather and disseminate information to stakeholders. Essential to the success of each discipline is an engaged user population. The authors use a case study from the Village of Oak Park to examine and reflect upon the effect of the Internet and other technologies in the public's ability to participate in an open planning process. The Village of Oak Park is known for its architectural heritage and outspoken community. Within its 4.5 square miles live a diverse population of approximately 52,000 people from different cultures, races, ethnicities, professions, lifestyles, religions, ages, and incomes where a majority of the population have some advanced education and over 80% of the households report home Internet use. How does a community like the Village of Oak Park engage in the planning process? What role does information play in this process? Can modern Information Technologies facilitate civic engagement? These questions are examined during a year-long case study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in cooperation with the Village of Oak Park (VOP). Specifically, the investigators examined how information is gathered and used in the planning process and how the introduction of Information Technology (IT) tools influenced public participation and introduced many citizens to e-government through the planning process. The use of these tools is compared to the traditional planning process. Data from the project is presented to demonstrate a different kind of role librarians play in the research process. Last, the authors discuss the role of privacy in the gathering and sharing of information with the reliability of that information and the impact of privacy on the public planning process.


Government Information Quarterly

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.