Data visualization has a new home in the R.M. Cooper Library – the Scholars’ Lab. Located on the fourth floor of the library, in room 413, the new space includes a variety of resources to help students, faculty and staff work with data to present it in a graphical format.
The lab features hardware, such as a 3D modeling table and large presentation screens, and data visualization software, such as Tableau, Python and R Studio, but what truly sets it apart from other resources on campus is the expertise of its faculty and graduate students, who are available to assist users of any skill level with their data projects.
“Data visualization is a key skill that a lot of companies are looking for in employees now,” said Megan Sheffield, data services librarian and director of the Scholars’ Lab. “Students learn how to conduct research and write a paper, but they also need to learn how to create dashboards and other ways to display their data. It is an important communication skill that falls under the umbrella of digital literacy, and we are trying to help fill that gap.”
The lab also hosts workshops and other events designed to teach people about data visualization, such as the series of events it is hosting for Love Data Week, Feb. 14-18. Love Data Week is an international effort to celebrate the importance of data.
Sheffield said it is important to remember that data can take many forms – it is more than just numbers, and it is used by researchers and scholars across disciplines.
“A lot of people work with data, but don’t see themselves or their work in that way. We can assist with all kinds of data, including text analysis and digital humanities research,” she said.
Sheffield also assists faculty with data management plans for grants and can help find an archival home for research data once a project is completed.
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