Big Local News deposits pandemic PPP loan data with Stanford Libraries

August 12, 2021
Regina Lee Roberts
Big Local News Logo
This is part 1 of a 2 part blog post series about COVID-19 pandemic data deposited into the Stanford Digital Repository by Stanford's Big Local News team.

During the pandemic, Big Local News staff and students have been hard at work providing data related to the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19. They have been making this data available through the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). "Big Local News, is a Stanford University Journalism and Democracy Initiative which collects local data to discover the regional or national patterns that will yield stories with impact."1  When the collected, cleaned, normalized and aggregated data is ready to be shared, Big Local News coordinates with Stanford Libraries to deposit that data with the SDR.

Collaboration is key

Big Local News was instrumental in the creation of the COVID-19 Case Mapper early on in the pandemic. For this work Big Local News teamed up with Pitch Interactive and the Google News Initiative to create and manage the COVID-19 Case Mapper. The Case Mapper data provides county level data of COVID-19 cases and vaccination numbers. This map is dynamic and therefore not ready at this time for long-term preservation in the SDR. 

2020 Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP Loans):

In May of 2021, Big Local News deposited the "Geocoded loan data from the Paycheck Protection Program 2020". The Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was intended to inject billions of dollars to sustain small businesses in 2020 during economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This data highlights inequities in how the loans were distributed and how the application process was managed. Journalists at Reveal of The Center for Investigative Reporting performed a geospatial analysis on 5.2 million loans from the first two rounds of PPP lending. Their analysis showed stark disparities in recipients across the country. Reveal used the Big Local News platform to collate and analyze the PPP data. Now this data is available in the SDR for review and re-use. Reveal's findings were published in a series of articles with a podcast.

 Articles include:

 Big Local News About.

Part 2 of this blog highlights U.S. school enrollment data. To be continued....

*A special note of thanks goes out to Geoff Willard from Stanford Libraries' Digital Library Systems and Services group for his technical assistance and to Arcadia Falcone from Stanford Libraries' Metadata Department for her consulation work on descriptive metadata for the data deposit.


Regina Lee Roberts

Regina Lee Roberts

Head of Social Sciences Resource Group
Bibliographer for Anthropology & Archaeology
Communication & Journalism
Feminist Studies
and Lusophone Africa Collections
Covering for Sociology Librarian (Interim)
Interim coverage with James R. Jacobs of State, Local and International Government Documents