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Mash Up Library of Congress Data, Maybe Win $5,000

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The Library of Congress is handing out money to developers who can come up with new ways to analyze legislative data.

The library this week unveiled the “Congressional Data Challenge,” promising $5,000 to winners who can churn out new visualizations, mobile apps and websites based on information held by the Library of Congress. Projects are judged on their levels of usefulness, creativity and designed.

Submissions might include visualizations walking viewers through the legislative process, widgets that could be added to congressional or public websites, systems identifying members of Congress with certain legislative interests, or tools to search the Library of Congress’ digital collection for certain legislation.

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The Library of Congress is home to vast databases “[b]ut it can also be overwhelming and sometimes intimidating,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. The challenge’s goal is to “spark an interest in the legislative process and also a spirit of information sharing by the tech-savvy and digital humanities pioneers who answer the call.”

The Library of Congress also plans to dole out $1,000 for a worthy high school project. There might be other awards for the best legislative status tracking, data visualization and data mashup tools.

The challenge is part of a larger effort at the Library of Congress to get the public to collaborate on data projects. Another project invites members of the public to contribute to the library’s digitized newspaper collection, by volunteering to transcribe text in certain images or identify visual elements like cartoons or text boxes.

Entries are due April 2.

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