A picture is worth a thousand words. We all know how true this is. Photos are a great way to share your library’s story – pictures of toddler and baby story time, rows of computers with every seat filled, teen/senior gaming tournaments.
But what if the information you need to share is numbers? Statistics about your library programs and services are also very important. Especially to those interested in your library’s funding. They want to know how many adult summer reading program participants you had, what your circulation statistics are, how many people came to your computer training classes.
But, let’s be honest. Numbers are boring. Sure, you can put them into a bar graph or pie chart. That will surely make them easier to grasp. But, what if you could combine the importance of your statistics with the power of visuals?
For this month’s Thing we are going to explore infographics. We will use free tools to take your library’s statistics and combine them with fun visuals to engage any audience and tell your library’s story.
Infographics is short for information graphics. They are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly. And they have become prevalent not just on the internet, but in print newspapers and magazines as well.
You’ve seen them yourself, and they’ve attracted your attention, right? If you see an infographic next to a text article, where do you look first? That’s right – the infographic!
We can take advantage of infographics to quickly capture people’s attention and advocate for our library, promote our programs, or report on our services.
The thought of attempting to create an infographic yourself can be intimidating. But luckily, there are free, easy-to-use tools available that can help someone with virtually no graphic design skills (like me!) create interesting, dynamic, and informative infographics.
With Infogr.am you can create either a basic chart or a more complex infographic.
The pre-made templates make it very easy to get started. Just pick the style you like, then go on to filling in a title and adding text. You can import data from a spreadsheet that will be used to create your graphic.
You can add pictures, a chart, other text, or quotes to help sell your point.
When you’re happy with your graphic, you can Publish it to Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. You can also view it on the web, with it’s own URL, and get the code to embed it into a website.
After it is created and published, your infographic is saved into your Library, where you can retrieve it to share again, or to update.
Do you want to show the impact of your library’s Facebook or Twitter accounts? Visual.ly is a tool just for that.
In order to use Visual.ly, you do have to give it access to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. That way it can gather the information it needs to create your infographic.
Once you have approved the app to access your Facebook account, you can use it to create an infographic about yourself, or about any pages that you are the administrator for.
For your library’s page, you would choose the Facebook Insights option. Then it can pull the statistics of your library’s Facebook page into an infographic. To the right is the “Facebook Social Life” of the Nebraska Library Commission.
Via your Twitter account, you can create a graphic about a particular hashtag. So, if you have created a hashtag about an event or program at your library, you can show how it’s been used. Here’s an example of the life of the hash tag for the 2012 ALA Annual Conference:
After you have created your infographic, you can download as an image or a PDF, share it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, email a link to the graphic, or get the embed code to put it on a website.
Visual.ly is not just a place to create infographics. It also is a repository for inforgraphics created by others. You can search for, and share, infographics on all sorts of topics.
If you’re looking for something that can let you get really creative, try Piktochart. Like Infogr.am, you start by choosing a theme. But, after that, you have many more options for customizing.
You can change the “mood” by picking a new color scheme for the theme you selected. When you upload your statistical data, or enter it manually, a Chart Wizard helps you decide the best way to display it.
The drag and drop functionality of Piktochart makes it very easy to edit your infographic. You can choose from many shapes and pre-made graphics and move them around to new locations on the infographic. As with Infogr.am, there are many font choices as well. And you can upload your own images. For example, you could add those pictures of your library events, or the library logo to brand the graphic.
When you are done, you can save your infographic so that you can access it later to edit again. And you can download it as an image that you can then print out or add to a website.
There is lots of information available about how to make great infographics. Here are just a few places to get you started:
How to Create Your Own Infographics – Librarian Lifestyle
Over 100 Incredible Infographic Tools and Resources Categorized – Stephen’s Lighthouse
If you really want to get deep into creating infographics, Kathy Schrock’s webpage, Infographics as a Creative Assessment, is overflowing with instructions, samples, tutorials, lesson plans, and more.
- Pick one infographic tool: Infogr.am, Visual.ly or Piktochart.
- Create an infographic about your library. It can be about the library as a whole, or just one service or program.
- Create a blog post and embed your infographic into the post.
- Write about your experience: What did you like/dislike about the tool you used? How easy or difficult was it to create your infographic? What are some ways that libraries can use infographics?