By Allison Campbell Jensen
To her internship in the Data + Visualization Lab in the Health Sciences Library, Claire Winters brought a lot of experience with Excel. She had used the software a great deal while pursuing her sociology and environmental studies degree at the College of St. Benedict.
In the internship, supported by a grant from the Greater Midwest Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, she learned about teaching and instructional design, including how to teach with Zoom. She also learned design principles for data visualization, such as color theory and accessibility, and, she says, “trying not to lose the humanity inside the data.”
Winters transformed this knowledge and her Excel experience into two workshops on creating compelling data visualizations with Excel. “Excel is one of the more common tools and can do more than many people realize,” she says.
Her first workshop focused on the basics of creating charts with Excel, including choosing colors with an awareness of color-blindness. In the second workshop, she emphasized making charts visually impactful so they immediately tell a story.
“A lot of people are publishing webinars or creating PowerPoints, and have a need to communicate in a limited amount of time,” Winters says. She encouraged workshop participants, many of whom are working health professionals, to “make sure you have the lens of an audience member, rather than just the person who wrote it.”
Linda Feinberg, Director of NorthShore Library Services for the NorthShore University HealthSystem, says Winters provided a very good overview of data visualization. “I hope to make use of my expanded understanding of chart types for reports, my own PowerPoint presentations and teaching, and library displays.”
After she completes the internship at the end of April, Winters’s materials will be shared with other libraries and used by HSL staff to continue to teach the workshops.