By Laura Childs, Levy Library Intern
As a library science graduate student at Pratt Institute, I have always focused more on the “library” than the “science” – until now. One requirement for earning my degree is to demonstrate certain advanced tech skills. In order to meet this requirement, I am taking a class called Information Visualization in which I am learning theories and principles of effectively communicating information through visual methods. More simply, this means figuring out how to synthesize large amounts of abstract data into user-friendly visuals that users can easily interpret and interact with.
Graphs created by Laura Childs using Tableau
Coming from a humanities background, thinking in terms of statistics and visual design is a challenge and I was initially unsure of how learning these skills would help me in my career as an academic librarian. Interning at the Levy Library, along with learning more about academic librarianship in school, has made it apparent that creating visualizations is very relevant to the work done by librarians in universities.
Turning data into consumable information will benefit students and librarians, as well as faculty and other university staff. As academic librarians become more involved in instruction and collaborate more with professors, it is increasingly important to be able to communicate information to students beyond the traditional lecture. Visualizations can help in this regard, and are also useful for more behind-the scenes work. For example, we can further help faculty measure their scholarly impact, track our own library metrics, and present research findings in compelling ways – especially in a medical library like this. I am far from being skilled in “info vis,” but I am motivated to get as far as I can. Fortunately, there is a lot of inspiration to be found in the great work done here at the Levy Library.
Few, S. (2005). Effectively Communicating Numbers: Selecting the Best Means and Manner of Display. Retrieved from https://www.perceptualedge.com/articles/Whitepapers/Communicating_Numbers.pdf