Ann Arbor, You’ve Got Documents

Ann Arbor Area Government Document Repository launches
The Ann Arbor Area Government Document Repository has now launched.

The Ann Arbor Area Government Document Repository has now launched.

Let’s say you’ve got some electronic government documents of some kind – documents that you think ought to get a wider readership.  You might be someone who has executed a Freedom of Information Act request. Or you might be a city councilmember who has an interesting staff report.

Whoever you are, if you’ve got docs, there’s now a place to store and share them with others: The Ann Arbor Area Government Document Repository.

Or let’s say you’re looking for some documents. Would you like to look at the drawings for the Stadium Boulevard bridge replacement project? Or maybe you’d like to see that Request for Proposals put out by the city of Ann Arbor for the Library Lot. Or maybe you’d like to see the old  income tax study commissioned by the city back in 1997. Maybe you’d like to look at the collected digital scans of doodles made on the back of napkins by city planning commissioners at a March 23, 1964 meeting with out-of-town developers.

You’re already in luck … except for that last item – The Chronicle is not aware that any such meeting took place. By “in luck,” we mean someone has already uploaded to AAAGDR the exact documents you’re seeking.

What is the goal of this document repository? From the AAAGDR website:

The Ann Arbor Area Government Document Repository is a place to upload documents relevant to local governance.

You can use this site to share PDFs, Excel files, PowerPoint documents, raw data, and other files produced by local governmental bodies, including the City, County, and School District. Uploaded documents are given a clean URL that — among many uses — can be shared via email, posted in online forums, and contributed to local newspapers.

This site is free to use. There is no registration process, but you must provide a valid email address. Your email will not be published.

We reserve the right to moderate submissions.

Who are the people behind the “we”? One of them is Matt Hampel, who developed the project. Technical consultation and refinement was provided by Brian Kerr of Different Chairs, which is also hosting the project. AAAGDR is part of the ArborWiki Project, a general collection of local Ann Arbor information.

In this initial launch phase of the AAAGDR, not all of the functions that might eventually be developed have been included. Feedback can be sent directly to

Both Hampel and Kerr might be names already familiar to Chronicle readers as folks who will occasionally post a comment here on The Chronicle. We encourage the development of projects like the document repository and extend our thanks to Matt and Brian for their work.


  1. By eli
    August 19, 2009 at 1:12 am | permalink

    Dang, nice work, guys, a very compelling project. Looking forward to watching it grow.

  2. By Alan Goldsmith
    August 19, 2009 at 6:44 am | permalink

    This is outstanding. Thanks to everyone and for all the hard work that has gone into this project.

  3. August 19, 2009 at 7:11 am | permalink

    Interesting concept. Will there be a comprehensive effort to access material already available (at the present) from official websites? And what about material at the Bentley?

  4. By Matt Hampel
    August 19, 2009 at 10:03 am | permalink

    Thanks everyone!

    The aim of the project today is to provide a quick place to put your files. We wanted something (a) local and (b) straightforward. If there’s something you want to share on the Chronicle,, Arbor Update, etc., you can do it with the minimum of hassle.

    At this point, a2docs is intended to be a convenience rather than a 1-stop-shop. There are lots of features that we left out to do this. One of them is complicated organization, like tagging, folders etc.

    Vivienne, I’d love to hear your ideas for more comprehensive access. One thing that would be nice to have is a catalog of local government information.

  5. By Matt Hampel
    August 19, 2009 at 10:07 am | permalink

    I also want to add my wish: I’m hoping that, in the next couple of years, the AADL will develop a more comprehensive system for storing photos, media, government documents, and other local digital information online.

    With their history collections and the Ann Arbor News archives arriving, they have an excellent base of materials. They also have the skilled staff, a history of providing local information, and the structural stability to organize a project of this size.

  6. August 19, 2009 at 10:46 am | permalink

    Cool beans.

    (Nerd question: Django?)

  7. By Matt Hampel
    August 19, 2009 at 11:59 am | permalink

    I’ve had to take down the submission form for just a while. A problem involving the display of file information has cropped up, and while all is o.k. under the hood, it’s made things confusing on the front-end.

  8. By Matt Hampel
    August 19, 2009 at 2:00 pm | permalink

    Fixed! We’re back & happy. Let me know if there are any issues.

    Bob: this is indeed built off of Django. All the code is online under a BSD-style license: link

  9. By Lisa Dengiz
    August 22, 2009 at 1:32 pm | permalink

    Fantastic project!

    In spite of Matt’s “youth” I’ve have had the pleasure to work with him for many years on a number of community start up projects. Matt is a remarkably bright and civically engaged young man.

    I’m delighted to learn that he continues to make important, meaningful community contributions through this project which makes public information more open and readily accessible to all.