Several months ago I put out a question on Twitter asking members of my professional learning network how they were using infographics in their advocacy efforts. It was a little surprising to me that only one person responded with an example. Others responded by saying things like, “Oh, that’s a good idea.” But, it looked like people weren’t using infographics as a way to inform their library community about what they do and why they do it.
Then I talked with YALSA Board member/Strategic Planning Chair and high school librarian Priscille Dando about data, advocacy, and infographics and I found out that she used PowerPoint to create a visual that demonstrated the use of her library in the spring of 2010. One thing that really struck me about Priscille’s infographic was that it was produced simply with PowerPoint, a tool that most (if not all) librarians have access to, and it used clip art to effectively get out the message that the high school library is an active vital part of the school community.
Perhaps one of the reasons that more librarians aren’t using infographics in order to tell their library story is because it seems like they are difficult to produce. As Priscille’s visual demonstrates, it doesn’t have to be a challenging activity. Along with PowerPoint and clip art there are a host of tools available for creating infographics. These include:
- Many Eyes – This tool from IBM gives users the chance to upload data and create visual displays for that data. Display types include charts, graphs, and word and phrase clouds. One really nice feature of Many Eyes is that when reviewing the types of visualizations the site provides tips on what each type is best used for. For example, under the heading “see relationships among data points” scatterplot, matrix chart, and network diagram are listed.
- Creately – This is a web-based tool (with a desktop version also available) that provides templates for a wide-variety of types of diagrams, including some specifically geared to those in K-12 education. A good feature of Creately is that it’s possible to collaborate with others when using the program for infographic building and design.
- Wordle – Many blog readers are familiar with Wordle and it’s good to remember that this is a tool that can be used to create advocacy-based visuals for the library. Think about how you might use Wordle to display visually all of the ways that teens describe the library. Or to show the words and phrases that come up over and over again when teens and others in the community talk about the value of library teen services. If you start to think about it I bet you’ll see that Wordle has a lot of potential as an infographic building tool.
Along with knowing how to create infographics it’s also important to think about what data is best to use in a visual display. Not all information lends itself to this format. In the article Ten Awesome Free Tools to Make Infographics the author states, “Remember that it’s all about quickly conveying the meaning behind complex data.” As you look at the data and information that you want to get across to members of your community keep that idea in mind. Ask yourself questions like:
- Which data lends itself to a visual display?
- What data is going to best help others understand the role of library teen services within the community?
- Is there data that when shown visually in an infographic format will demonstrate an idea that can’t be easily articulated in writing?
Keep in mind as well that infographics often have visual themes that help to send the message. Consider what theme you might use in order to get your visual data across successfully. Also remember that you want to make sure the visual display is as high-quality as the data. If the data isn’t readable because of the colors or images used than it has no value. This is another reason why simple is good.
There are many good resources available to learn about infographics and how to create them. Make sure to check out the links in the 10 Awesome Free Tools article to learn more.