In 2013, when the National Institute of Health began enforcing its Public Access Policy to withhold or delay federal grant funding if peer-reviewed publications were not submitted to PubMed Central (PMC), it caused a great stir in the world of researchers and in the academic and medical library community.
We can’t really call the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education new anymore, but lots of us still need help in understanding what it all means. And if we librarians need help, imagine how our students are feeling about the whole thing! The librarians at the Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library at Bucknell University are working to make this easier on all of us with a series of posters about each frame.
My love of Adobe Photoshop is well known at Librarian Design Share, as is April’s excitement over Microsoft Publisher. We all have our favorite design programs, and everyone from Canva-devotees to Illustrator users can agree that once you find software that works for you, it’s easy to stick with it. But sometimes it’s a nice change of pace to try a new design tool.
Today’s submission from Stephanie Espinoza, eLearning Librarian at the College of Southern Nevada, makes me think I haven’t been using PowerPoint to its full advantage. She’s used the standard Microsoft computing software to create everything from infographics to advertisements for her library.
If we could visually communicate the love that librarians have for infographics, I think it would look a little something like this. I’m not sure when our love affair with icons and color-matching data began, but this visual expression of data and information is now a part of our librarian sphere. Whether we’re using infographics to teach students about information evaluation, or developing our own to share LibQual results, library impact or assessment findings, this method of conveying information is quite compelling.
But creating good infographics takes time. You want them to tell a story, to build from one bit of information to the next until the people reading them get a complete sense of the narrative you’ve created. You can certainly put your knowledge of MS Publisher, Adobe Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator to work and create your own infographic. Or you can take advantage of infographic creation sites like PiktoChart or Easel.ly. We’ve written about these easy-to-use graphic generator sites before, but I think as more librarians are compelled to share data and information visually, these image-creation sites are going to find a place in our day-to-day work toolkit.
Robin Featherstone is an embedded research health librarian for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta. Her infographic was presented at the 2014 Canadian Health Libraries Association (CHLA) Annual Conference in Montreal. In it, Robin describes two different projects used to promote research through social media. It was created using Piktochart and is an excellent example of the use of infographic presentation to convey project results.
Carina Gonzalez, Library Media Specialist at Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey has also opted to use an infographic (created using Easel.ly) to share information about weeding with her school community. We all know that sparks can fly when non-librarians hear about weeding projects, so creating an easy-to-understand visual representation of the process is a great way to communicate the weeding process.
Here’s Carina in her own words:
This infographic, made with excerpts from CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries by Jeanette Larson, helps students and teachers garner a basic understanding of how a librarian chooses what to weed and what to keep. It specifically outlines the acronym M-U-S-T-I-E providing a concise introduction to weeding without overwhelming the reader with too much information. As librarians, we need the input of our school community on what we should or shouldn’t weed, and this infographic will inform others so they can give us the information we need to make the right decision.
I’ve been working on a poster for my institution’s ACRL Assessment in Action project for the past month or so and it’s easily been one one of the toughest things I’ve had to design EVER. With ALA and other summer conferences around the corner, I’m willing to bet there are plenty of librarians and library students in epic-poster-design-battle-mode at the moment. So let’s talk posters, research and pictures.
To sum up our AiA Project: The St. Mary’s College of Maryland team was interested in learning if faculty-librarian collaboration had an impact on students’ information literacy (IL) skill development in the First Year Seminar (FYS: a required course for all first year students). It was a multi-method assessment: student surveys, faculty surveys, librarian surveys, rubric-based assessment of student essays and faculty interviews. This made coming up with a poster design particularly challenging since there was simply SO MUCH INFORMATION to share.
After hearing from an AiA cohort member who was taking a really simple, conversational approach to designing her project poster, I knew that I wanted to try to replicate that approach as much as possible. There is only so much information you can take in from a poster, and I would much rather be talking to people about different aspects of my project than having them squinting at the text above my shoulder.
I still think the poster is kind of busy, but to be honest, I’m so tired of it right now that I’m willing to let it go through the AiA peer review process and worry about it next week. It still needs alignment adjustments, and I’m not totally sold on the white font on the blue background, but it’s something!
Here are the pieces I like best:
Methods: All of our assessment pieces were part of a greater whole, and took place at various points throughout the semester. I was inspired by other AiA colleagues who took a timeline approach to their methods section and thought this was a nice compromise.
Research Question & Background: This was originally a long paragraph with background information about our First Year Seminar, our IL outcomes, and our assessment project. I decided that if someone really wanted the long story, they could visit our project website (which I’m in the process of developing) or just ask me more about it. I paired down the research description to the just the essential question and basic facts about the FYS and our involvement with it.
Results: This is just a portion of the results section, which was easily the most difficult section to develop. I’m still not totally pleased with it, but I wanted to try something other than bullet points and graphs. I don’t know if I did the right thing leaving out numbers and I may go back and change that, but again, I think if people want the finer details I can refer them to the project website with averages, t-test scores and correlation scores, right (I hope)?
What kind of posters are you working on for conferences this summer? What’s your approach to visualizing your research?
It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another. We might be under a tight deadline to create a presentation for a class or a series or brochures for an event. We weigh out our time constraints against the creativity raging inside our brains, our proficiency with design tools, and our desire to work on a particular design piece. Then we come back to our question: Do I DIY it or Prefab it?
At Librarian Design Share, April and I have made it a point to share original designs created by library-related folks for library-related purposes. Your designs are AH-MAZING (and of course we want to encourage you to keep ’em coming). We would of course, be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the role that prefab designs play in our work. In fact, one could argue that, since all designs on Librarian Design Share are available for adaptation and resuse, this blog is in fact a sort of prefab design site.
If you aren’t familiar with traditional prefab design sites, just think of Microsoft Publisher or PowerPoint Templates on steroids. Some of the more popular flyer and infographic creation sites out there are ones like:
They offer a variety of attractive templates that can be customized to varying degrees to meet your design needs. Many retain some kind of a branding presence on the end result (a logo, a link to their homepage, etc.), but it’s a small price to pay for a good-looking end result. Some of these sites allow for much more customization than others. Piktochart is definitely on the more customizable end of the spectrum.
Take for example, Sarah Visintini, System Administrator at the Social Media Lab at Dalhousie Unviersity in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who used Piktochart to it’s most creative effect. Here are two infographic presentations she created using a blank Piktochart template and all of the many elements available through this site:
Using and infographic to present is a visually engaging way to relay information that takes you outside of the normal PowerPoint / Prezi mold.
So when do you use prefab sites? Or do you always DIY?
So much of the information that we gather about our libraries needs to be shared with our users, but just how do we share it? Meggan Frost, Public Services Librarian at Paul Smith’s College, has given us a great example of visually representing data gathered through the formal library assessment LibQual.
Here’s Meggan in her own words:
I created this conference-sized poster (4’x3’) to publicize the findings of our LibQUAL survey. We had incredibly high participation in the survey, and we wanted to make sure that our community understood that we took their responses seriously. I created this poster using InDesign. Initially, I had a hard time conceptualizing how I wanted to present the information. Because the poster is conference-sized, I found it hard to break out of “conference poster” design mode in the beginning. Once I realized that I actually wanted to design something more like an infographic, I was able to quickly sketch out a design that turned into the one you see here. This poster was prominently displayed at the front of the library this fall.
This infographic is much more powerful than the plots, charts, and text that typically makes up a library’s LibQual report, and turning it into a poster to share with her campus community further bolster’s her library’s user-focused attitude.
For the inDesign file of this poster, email Meggan Frost.
This infographic was created by staff at the Research Medical Library at MD Anderson Cancer Center to demonstrate the library’s role in assisting faculty to publish their research. Infographics have to tell a story, and working out the narrative was certainly the hardest part of creating this. If you would like the Publisher format of this document, contact April Aultman Becker.