Data Visualization – Bag of Tricks

Ah January, the season of snow and reports! Often January is a month of getting your taxes together,  making reports for the Board, and otherwise wrapping up the year gone by.

One tech tool you may want in your back pocket for reports is Livegap Charts ( If you can make a spreadsheet, Livegap Charts can make it into a pretty chart. They have several styles and chart types to choose from. There is also a similar website called AMCharts ( Both of these sites are pretty straightforward to use.

Besides your own reports, other organizations in your community might be working on Annual reports. I am sure you have seen your fair share of hard to read graphs, data that doesn’t mean much, and long blocks of text with facts and figures that might cure insomnia.

While these tools can be a big help with making a graph that looks great, knowing what data to make visual and what kind of graph to use to best show off your stats can still be puzzling. For this reason, the Colorado State Library unit, Library Research Service (LRS), has created/compiled some awesome resources on data visualization. Have a look at their Beginner’s guide – ( and check out the article in American Libraries by our own Linda Hofschire, director of LRS (

As we talked about in other parts of this Bag of Tricks series, having resources at your fingertips and a basic familiarity with up-and-coming technology can come in very handy for better serving patrons and can also give you a bit more confidence. A Bag of Tricks is a virtual toolkit that you create to help familiarize yourself with new technology and websites that you or your patrons might find handy. Here’s an example of a Bag of Tricks that you can use as a jumping-off point for creating your own:

Kieran Hixon