In November 2019, I was awarded a scholarship by NNLM-PNR (Pacific Northwest: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington) to attend a data visualization workshop titled “Accessing, Analyzing, and Visualizing IPUMS Data” in Denver, CO. The workshop, hosted by PolicyViz, was facilitated by Jonathan Schwabish, Urban Institute; David Van Riper, IPUMS; and Jose Pacas, IPUMS. I was eager to attend as I was on a journey to learn two new skill sets: data visualization and teaching data visualization to others – and the experience did not disappoint. First, the venue chosen was very cool – General Assembly reminded me of something out of the Grizzle Campus from Parks & Recreation – complete with glassed-in classrooms, concrete floors, and a café that sells sparkling waters you’ve never heard of before. Our workshop had only six attendees, which really personalized the experience. My co-students ranged from educators to business analysts – and we had a good laugh during introductions when we realized that two instructors and myself were all from the University of Minnesota (I flew all the way to Denver to learn from folks on my own campus – and it was totally worth it!).
There were quite a few significant takeaways.
What ever came of this experience? A professional development leave, two data visualization workshops, and a guide for other libraries looking to expand their data visualization services. “Accessing, Analyzing, and Visualizing IPUMS Data” was one of many courses, workshops, and presentations I attended in preparation, but it was significant in it’s contributions. In July 2020, I was awarded a six-week professional development leave to create two data visualization workshops. I relied heavily on Jonathan’s book for my workshop titled “Data Visualizations: Design Principles & Targeted Messaging to Effectively Communicate Your Research” and used the real-world data concept for my workshop titled “Introduction to Tableau.” I teach each of these workshops once per semester to an interdisciplinary and interprofessional audience, and both are well attended. Both of them are also constantly evolving based on feedback and new learning experiences. I look forward to teaching them in-person some day! A final output was the Data Visualization Services Toolkit for Libraries – a guide for any librarians or libraries seeking to develop or grow data visualizations skills and services.
Shanda Hunt, MPH
Public health librarian & data curation specialist
Health Sciences Library, University of Minnesota