Public records are citizens’ window into local government. In 2018, The Lens offered its first public-records workshop. Lens journalists were joined by attorney Scott Sternberg and gave a detailed explanation of how public records can be used to hold government agencies accountable. We explained what people can learn from government records, why they’re entitled to see them, and how to get them.

We’re pleased to have been able to continue to offer these workshops over the years, to ensure New Orleanians are empowered to seek public information.  We are kicking off our specialized records workshops this year with a night focused on criminal justice. We will also hold workshops to help the public learn how to obtain records related to education and the environment.  We’ve chosen these three areas because they have an everyday impact on our readers and citizens of the city.

We want our participants to take away real-world experience, advice, and knowledge about how these systems work.

The three-part format allows participants to mingle and then actively participate in the three part program. Those parts are as follows: part 1: Civics 101: How public records are key to citizen engagement and open government; part 2: General advice on what public records are and how to get them from local government agencies; and part 3: Specific data sources and tips related to the workshop theme.

By teaching people what kinds of records are available and how to get them, we’re giving them tools to hold their government agencies accountable. They can check to see if they’re following through on their policies and promises, and they can monitor how they’re spending taxpayer money. We want to empower parents to understand what educational records they can review and services their children are entitled to. We want to empower families to understand the criminal justice system and be able to advocate for themselves and their loved ones — and understand how their tax dollars are used by the police department and other agencies charged with keeping them safe. We want to empower citizens to be able to monitor the air they breathe and water they drink and understand how it may affect their health and wellbeing.


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Date: Thursday, March 21

Time: 6 to 7:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:45 p.m.)

Location: Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, 4035 Washington Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70125

Questions: Email Anne at

Free and open to the public with a suggested donation of $10. Street parking and limited parking in the lot behind Propeller.