Program Session

5 - Visualizing Success: Development of a Data Visualization Service in an Academic Medical Library

Tuesday, May 30
4:05 PM - 4:20 PM
Room: 604

Objective: Data visualization is an important element of scholarly communication and analysis. A request for data visualization instruction came from the Associate Dean of our graduate studies program, and it became clear that educational support and guidance for data visualization services was an unmet need at our academic medical center, which the library sought to fill.

Methods: Our health sciences library began developing course materials on data visualization with a focus on fundamentals of visualization and design best practices, which was leveraged into a stand-alone, introductory class. A librarian new to data visualization services engaged in training through online resources including Coursera and Lynda, attended community-based meetups, and read literature on the topic. The librarian gained practice by visualizing library bibliometric data. Data visualization services  were marketed through our medical center’s online internal portal, listservs and liaison librarians. A second workshop was created on communication for different audiences in response to a departmental  request, which was generated as a result of these marketing efforts. These resources were leveraged into classes for the general medical center community, which in turn led to opportunities for data visualization consults and an participatory “Data Visualization Clinic.”  


To date, uptake at the medical center has been strong. Over 10 class sessions and workshops have been held in data visualization topics in the past year, including sessions requested by individual departments as well as classes hosted in a recurring library class series. Sixteen consults with either individual researchers or small groups of researchers have been held. In addition to classes on introductory data visualization topics, the library has hosted several successful data visualization clinics and developed an online social media community on our medical center’s intranet with 29 members currently. A new educational offering has also been developed on software offered at our medical center.


Data Visualization offers a relatively new area for libraries to provide data services. Because enthusiasm for the topic is high, buy-in from departments can be quickly achieved. Moreover, the high volume of quality, online educational resources that many libraries already subscribe to or that can be used for free online allow librarians to gain knowledge in this service area. Additionally, for many librarians meetup and common interest groups offer a community oriented approach to learning.


Keywords: data visualization, data services, data lifecycle, library led workshops, data education, library education, technology, innovation, departmental collaboration, scholarly communication

Program Session

Fred LaPolla

Knowledge Management Librarian
NYU Health Sciences Library
New York, New York

Fred LaPolla is a junior faculty member with NYU's Health Sciences Library Data Services team. He is interested in data visualization, bibliometrics, and research data management. Fred earned his MLS at Queens College, CUNY.


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5 - Visualizing Success: Development of a Data Visualization Service in an Academic Medical Library

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