Open Data BR Launches

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Digital Initiative Opens Public Access to City-Parish Data
Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden announced this week the launch of his new Open Data BR initiative, a state-of-the-art digital platform that will dramatically improve how the City-Parish approaches data management and digital engagement. Open Data BR – publicly accessible and downloadable today at – is the first in a series of key digital initiatives highlighted in Mayor Holden’s recent State of the City address to provide a more transparent and accessible City-Parish government. “The launch of Open Data BR is a critical step toward growing a strong, vibrant digital economy here in Baton Rouge,” Mayor Holden said. “We believe this initiative will truly revolutionize how the public interacts with our City-Parish data.”


Previously, much of the data was kept in information silos within separate agencies, where public access was limited. The new initiative represents a targeted effort by all of the City-Parish departments to work together, reduce those data silos and embrace technology as a tool to make government more efficient, effective and accessible.

The first phase of the Open Data initiative, available today, includes data sets such as fire and police data, employee salaries and detailed property information. Additional data sets will be added to the platform while existing ones will be maintained and updated. “Our eventual goal is to create an open government at all levels by publishing each and every City-Parish data point that may be of public interest,” Mayor Holden said. The Open Data BR initiative, led by the Mayor’s Department of Information Services, also follows the recommendations in IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge Grant last year.

“When IBM sent in its team of experts to study Baton Rouge and recommend how to improve our internal operations, one of the main points they kept going back to was data – both improving how we manage our data and how we then support the public’s interaction with it,” said Interim Information Services Director Eric Romero. “While we were already working on this effort, IBM’s recommendations served as validation that we were on the right track.”

Over the past year, Romero and his staff studied a number of other cities that are leaders in the “open data” movement, including New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Raleigh.  In many instances, software developers in these areas have used this new level of access to data to produce applications with a civic or public-sector focus.

“We believe this initiative will serve as a catalyst to engage the software development community to leverage our data – provided at no cost to the public – and work with us to develop technology-based solutions to public-sector problems,” said Romero.

In other cities, developers have utilized data from a number of public sources such as new building permits and new business licenses to build websites that are useful for new residents or new businesses.  Other applications use city data to track which streets have been cleared of snow during major snow events. In Baton Rouge, similar technology could be used during emergency situations such as heavy rain, icy road conditions and hurricanes, when knowing the real-time availability of key roadways can mean the difference between life and death.

North Platte Canteen Online Exhibit

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Have you ever heard of the North Platte Canteen? The Canteen began in North Platte, Nebraska, on December 17, 1941, shortly after the United States entered World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On December 17, 1941, families and friends of the local Nebraska National Guard unit (Company D) came to the North Platte Depot to give them their Christmas presents, and then blossomed into one of the largest volunteer efforts of World War II.

North Platte Nebraska Canteen History


The North Platte Canteen met its first troop train on December 25, 1941, and met every single troop train that passed through the town thereafter, greeting an estimated six million soldiers throughout the war. Townspeople from all around the state gave their ration cards to the cause, volunteering their time, preparing food for the soldiers, and giving anything they h ad all to ensure that each train carrying American troops was greeted with friendly faces and free food, magazines, and coffee.

The Canteen in North Platte Nebraska

The Lincoln Historical Society has a great online exhibit dedicated to this heartwarming chapter in American history. Check out Bob Greene’s book Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen from the library for more on this amazing volunteer effort.

North Platte Nebraskas historical North Platte Canteen

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Gobble gobble! Family, delicious food, and football. Another Thanksgiving tradition is the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when giant balloon replicas of our favorite characters fill the streets of New York. The parade, which began in 1924, has an estimated 3.5 million people actually attend the event and over 50 million households watch the parade on TV!

Take a look at this fun retrospective with photographs of the balloons from years past from the New York Daily News.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2014

You can also check out the official parade website for the 2014 lineup of floats and performers and an interesting history section too with a description year-by-year of this memorable event.

Remember all EBRPL branches are closing at 6 tonight (Wednesday, 11/26) and will be closed tomorrow in observance of Thanksgiving Day. We will resume normal business hours this Friday, November 28.

World of Poetry

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Columbia Granger’s World of Poetry is an exciting new addition to our Digital Library. A one-stop shop for everything poetry-related, World of Poetry lets you search for a specific poem, poet, subject, region, and time period. You can find author biographies and literary criticism too. Looking for a little Keats or Whitman with your morning coffee? World of Poetry has a Listening Room where you can hear your favorite poems read out loud! Check out this database today – simply go to our Digital Library, find it in the A-Z list, and log in with your library card.