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During late 2018 and early 2019, the project research team conducted four in-depth case studies in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Chicago, Illinois; Ignacio, Colorado; and Saratoga Springs, New York. The four locations were originally identified in the research proposal to IMLS and picked to represent diversity in the size of the public library and the population it served as well as geographical location in the United States. In addition, the project team looked for public libraries that had some publicly documented involvement with smart city or smart community initiatives.
For each location, the project team conducted on site face to face interviews with individuals from the public library, local government, and other stakeholders from the community. In most cases, the public library director or designee played a critical role in helping the project team identify interviewees.
Interviews for each case covered the following themes: 1) community context; 2) the library’s contribution to developing smart communities; 3) benefits of the program and services; 4) challenges and costs and actions to address them; and 5) main lessons learned. Then, the research team discussed important similarities and differences among the cases and overall insights. The results were used to inform the development of two national surveys, the preliminary development of the toolbox, and the policy guide.