Charting a New Course: Practical Data Visualization for Librarians

Dates of Live Instructor-Led Sessions: Thursday, November 4 & Tuesday, November 9, 2021.


Data visualization is used to communicate complex information and explore trends in large sources of data. Compelling data visualization requires thoughtful planning and execution; from understanding the data, choosing the right chart, balancing visual cues, and providing narratives to tell interesting stories. This course gives attendees a strong foundation in the principles of data visualization. In addition, attendees will use Microsoft Excel, a common but incredibly powerful tool, to visualize library-relevant data through a series of hands-on activities. Attendees will gain practical and immediately useful skills for visualizing both qualitative and quantitative data.

You’ll have homework after the first session and opportunities for discussion and questions of instructors during/after the second session.

All participants will be enrolled in the Slack course workspace to introduce themselves, ask questions and share.

Special Note: This course is approved for the “under construction” Advanced Level of the Data Services Specialization. A Basic Level Data Services Specialization Certification is currently available.

Attendance maximum: 25

Learning Outcomes

Participants in this course will learn:

  • Principles and practices of effective data visualization and visual communication.
  • Best practices for creating and formatting basic Excel charts to make them both informative and visually appealing.
  • Advanced data visualization in Excel to create charts such as heat maps, stacked bar charts, and scatter plots.
  • The usefulness of chart features such as benchmarks, standard deviations, and sparklines.


This session is designed for those interested in boosting their data visualization skills using a familiar tool, Excel. Prior experience with creating charts and graphs in Excel is encouraged but not required.


Annette MendozaAnnette Mendoza is the Research Impact Librarian at Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center at Northwestern University. As a member of the Research Assessment and Communication Department she assists in the creation and delivery of training sessions, guides, and consultations on the topics related to understanding and communicating research impact. Visual explanations of data is a valuable part of telling a story and Annette is dedicated to helping others master the utilization of tools they have access to, like Excel, for creating interesting graphics.


Karen Gutzman

Karen Gutzman is the Head of the Research Assessment and Communications Department at Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center at Northwestern University where she develops, supports, and implements programs that increase awareness about digital scholarship and issues in the digital environment among faculty, researchers, and students at Feinberg School of Medicine. Karen works with library colleagues on preservation and access to scholarly outputs through a digital repository and other digital means, and she provides expertise for campus-wide digital preservation activities. Karen work also focuses on using information visualization to facilitate stronger comprehension of data in the assessment process. She regularly use tools in her work such as VOSViewer, Science of Science Tool, Gephi, Excel, and Tableau.


Chris BelterChris Belter is the lead analyst for the Division of Extramural Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), a division of the US National Institutes of Health. At NICHD he designs and conducts analyses to inform the Institute’s funding decisions, provides strategic guidance on the use of data and analyses in those decisions, and coordinates analytical activities across the Division. Prior to joining NICHD, created and led bibliometric service programs at the NIH Library and the NOAA Central Library. Chris has a master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Maryland and a BA in Religion from Shenandoah University.

Registration Information

  • Length: Two part course that includes (2) 2.5 hour live instructor-led sessions + office hour + practice lessons
  • Dates of Instructor-Led Sessions: Thursday, November 4 and Tuesday, November 9, 1:00pm-3:30pm, Central Time
  • Optional: Office hours: Friday, November 5, 2021, 11:00am-12:00pm, Central Time
  • Technical information: Go to MY Learning in MEDLIB-ED to access the course, live sessions, resources, evaluation and certificate.
  • Register, participate, and earn 6 MLA continuing education (CE) contact hours.

MLA CE Credits: 6