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Citizen science at public libraries: Data on librarians and users perceptions of participating in a citizen science project in Catalunya, Spain

Anna Cigarini, Isabelle Bonhoure, Julián Vicens, Josep Perelló
Data in Brief 2022 v.40 pp. 107713
citizen science, focus groups, landscapes, libraries, surveys, Spain
As libraries struggle to keep pace with the changing societal landscape, emerging practices such as citizen science (CS) initiatives are being incorporated to reinforce the idea of public libraries as gathering, meeting, and collaboration spaces within the context of shared community and shared learning resources. However, there is little empirical evidence of whether the most open and participatory ways that CS puts forward can converge with and be nurtured by the essence of public libraries. Also, the roles of librarians and users in the ‘next generation public library’ have been under-developed. As the number of CS initiatives at public libraries grows, so does the need to collect evidence on the impact and the capacity of assimilation of CS practices. The data describes librarians and users' perceptions of participating in a citizen science project. Two hands-on activities for librarians of the Barcelona Network of Public Libraries were implemented. One was a training course for 30 librarians from 24 libraries which allowed them to envisage citizen science implementation in each library. The second activity consisted in the co-creation of a citizen social science project. 40 library users, 7 librarians from 3 different cities, and professional scientists, were involved. The data on librarians and users' perception was collected through participant observation, surveys, and a focus group to identify strengths and challenges of implementing citizen science at public libraries. The data covers librarians and users attitudes towards citizen science, their motivations to participate, their perceived ability to implement a citizen science project (as for librarians) or to contribute to science (as for library users), and the participants intention to keep engaged with citizen science, drawing on the Theory of Planned Behavior. Responses to closed-ended survey questions are analyzed at a descriptive level. The qualitative feedback from the focus group and the open-ended survey question on motivations is subjected to a thematic analysis. The data offers interesting insights to identify opportunities and challenges of implementing citizen science at public libraries, contributing to the debate over the public library's mission as local community hub.