Show and Tell: Two Views of Data Visualization

Behind every good infographic are data—and a question. Actually, several questions.

“Using infographics is really a question of who your audience is and how much they care to know,” says Anselm Spoerri, a faculty member in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University. “. . . [Another] question is, when do you use a bar chart, when do you use a line chart, and so on. Most often, librarians will be using these types of tools. . . . The question then becomes, do you also want to do some statistical analysis? There are packages that are optimized for that. So it really becomes a question of how rich your data [set] is—the larger the data set, the more sophisticated the tool you need to understand the data.”

Spoerri, who has conducted research in the field of information visualization for the past 20 years and teaches students how best to visualize data, shared his insights with SLA member Jocelyn McNamara in an interview in the September-October issue of Information Outlook magazine. His answers to her questions—and the questions he raised himself—can help librarians at all stages of their careers better understand when and how to visualize information to communicate with their audiences.

For additional insights into data visualization, be sure to register for the Nov. 14 webinar, “Show Me a Story: Data Storytelling Using Familiar Tools,” by Sally Gore, a research evaluation analyst at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The webinar, part of the “Best of SLA 2017” series, will demonstrate best practices for designing charts and other visuals and show how data visualization skills can expand the role(s) of librarians into the realm of research evaluation.

Like all of the webinars in the “Best of SLA 2017” series, “Show Me a Story” will be recorded. Those who register after Nov. 14 will receive the webinar recording(s). Click here to purchase and register for “Show Me a Story” or any of the “Best of SLA 2017” webinars.

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