Do you ever find it difficult to make time for your personal professional development? As someone who was originally a high school teacher, I often miss the 2.5 days in the fall and the 2.5 days in the spring of required professional development time (though in all honesty, I’m not sure if I was so grateful for them when I had to attend those days at the time!). Looking back on those days now, it was a great way of providing solid blocks of time (they were typically all day) to learn something new or to improve upon an existing skill. It was also a time to network with like minded colleagues that you didn’t necessarily see very often.

While Rusty and I present at conferences as much as we can, and certainly consider those to be professional development since we are attend workshops and sessions as well, it’s not the same as having several hours in a row to practice a specific skill (without the associated preparation stress of getting ready to present your own session!). That’s why when we see local workshops offered as professional development, we jump at the opportunity if they are (1) semi-local (i.e. doable in a work day by driving) and (2) affordable. We recently drove up to Temple University in Philadelphia (less than hour’s drive for us from our institution) to attend a Summer Drive-in Workshop which was held by the North East Association for Institutional Research (NEAIR). We joined the Visualizing Survey Data in Tableau workshop, as our institution recently picked up Tableau.

Are you using Tableau in your academic library or department?

We’d love to hear about how you are using it to help you analyze your data and make decisions! 

After arriving to Temple University, the Tableau workshop began with,

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

I’m kidding! Sort of. The workshop didn’t begin with this cute bagel hut, but our day did! How could we not stop at this? It helped that it was also on the way out of the parking lot – so you’d feel guilty if you didn’t stop to pick up a $1 bagel.

The workshop was held at Temple University’s Tuttleman Computer Center which was literally right next door to the parking lot (and bagel hut!) which made it super convenient to get to (good pick, NEAIR!).

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

After a warm welcome from members of NEAIR (it was great to see you again, Annemarie!), we headed to our workshop.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

Temple’s IT facilities were quite nice – they reminded me of the ITS Training Services area where I worked at Penn State.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

Check out their computer lab log-on screens – our institution needs to add more of the college’s branding to log-ons like this! It’s a simple, but nice way of including your brand elements in places where people frequently see them.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

Rusty and I were particularly interested in checking out how Temple University Libraries had set up their web presence as we are always making updates and style improvements to our LibGuides pages (I’m always surprised by how many institution’s use LibGuides, but Rusty frequently informs me that it’s very common). Now that we are incorporating an Ask a Librarian! form as an embedded page in all of our institutions’s course sites within the LMS, I’m always interested in checking out how other institution’s are wording similar resources. I really liked how Temple’s University Libraries explained the purpose of Subject Librarians for students who might need research help.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

Our Tableau workshop was taught by Craig Abbey, Associate Vice President and Director of Institutional Analysis at University at Buffalo.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

We recently completed a week-long online training with Tableau (a live training that was held via WebEx), and to be honest, if we hadn’t completed that training, I think this workshop would have been difficult. That being said, the pre-reqs for the course indicated that basic working knowledge of Tableau was expected (however, anyone else ever attend training that they might not be ready for? Hand up over here! When I’m excited and ready to learn, I learn!). Rusty and I were fine with our skill levels though and found ourselves mainly keeping up with Craig.

We picked up many tips and tricks during this workshop – like clicking on the drop down arrow next to measures to change your calculation quickly to a percentage and how to make simply adjustments to visualizations so that they would be easier to read (adjusting the auto text for what you see when you hover on elements, for example.

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

I think my favorite tip, though, was shared with us by another attendee, Alexandra Yanovski-Bowers, Assistant Director for Undergraduate Strategic Initiatives at Temple – she shared with us that you can use the CTRL key and drag an existing measure onto the Detail Marks card to create a duplicate of your measure, remove the current calculation of percentage so that your new measure returns to counts, and drag that new measure out to your visualization (in my case yesterday – typically tables) to include both the percentage of responses for a particular category AND the n (counts/how many people responded in that way).

NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshops

This made me extremely excited. Think all the excited emojis! Seriously. It will save us so much time now that we know how to do combine counts and percentages in the same visualization. I was combining two different worksheets before to get the same result. Thanks, Alexandra, for sharing your tips!

The NEAIR Summer Drive-in Workshop Visualizing Survey Data in Tableau was a great event and we’re glad we attended. Definitely looking for more opportunities like this in the future from them.


But back to you…

How are you using Tableau in your academic library?
Are you using it to analyze assessment data from your instructional sessions?
Reviewing your acquisitions history?

Let us know! We’d love to chat with you about it.

Tableau is a powerful tool that’s fairly simply to use once you’ve had a few tips and training sessions.

We’re happy to share our new found knowledge.

Share your Tableau experiences and questions with us by commenting on this post, reaching out via our Contact Us page, or you can find us on LinkedIn too (Monica / Rusty).

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