Public Participation Guide: Information Repositories
Information repositories are created to store project information in a centralized public location to provide easy access for community members. Typically, the information stored in a repository is for on-site perusal and review and not to be taken off-site. Popular places for information repositories include public libraries, schools, and other government buildings. The repository should contain all of the project information appropriate for public use. Create a repository online as well.
- Provides an invaluable resource where members of the community can access information on a wide range of aspects of an issue, event or proposal, especially in poorer communities and where internet access is limited
- Helps limit the need for creating multiple copies of large and complex documents, especially where a large quantity of project information is being generated
- Can double as distribution centers for project information
Challenges to Consider
- May not well used by the public, especially if not in an easily accessible, well-publicized location with hours amenable to public schedules
- Staff at the repository must know the location of the materials, some sense of the content and organization of the material, and be able to answer basic project questions
- Useful documents can be removed and not replaced
- Diligence is required to keep the repository current
- Multiple languages
Principles for Successful Planning
- Select a suitable location that is central, accessible by public transportation and set up in a way that will allow the material to be easily used
- Publicize the existence of the repository through a range of publicity techniques
- Identify the materials suitable for location in a repository, and make sure that they are written and organized in a way that allows easy public access
- Use a “sign-in” system to track the level of interest in a project
- Reiterate the existence of the repository at public meetings and events
- Provide an overall organization, table of contents, and some way to search the available documents as well as the specific information within them
- Consider a frequently asked questions document to help orient people to the information housed, as well as public summaries of each document so that stakeholders can quickly search for topics that interest them
- Keep information up to date and maintain the repository for the duration of the project
- Use as the information repository as a distribution center for project handouts that members of the public can take away
- Staffing is generally provided by the organization managing the facility (such as librarians)
- Staff require basic library skills, interpersonal skills and the knowledge and ability to answer basic project questions
- Staffing is required to maintain repositories and keep information up to date
- Interpreters, if necessary
- Venue with good storage and display areas and room to access material (corrals or tables and chairs)
- Arranging for a location, producing copies of materials, and arranging materials in an accessible format
- The repository should be available for the entire duration of the project
- Generally minimal.
- Major cost drivers are duplication and shipping.
Most relevant participation levels:
- Repositories are used at all levels on the IAP2 spectrum.
Explore the full Public Participation Guide.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
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1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460