Viz of the Day

It is always a delight to receive my Viz of the Day (VOTD) emails. These visualizations are created with Tableau and nominated for the Tableau Public Gallery. The topics are timely and the Vizzes are visibly stunning. Here are a few of my favorites (click on any to explore):

Dashboard 1

Harry Potter Spells

History of Bruce Springsteen

Gender&Ethnic disparities in Tech Companies

Gaming Revenue

Coffee Calculator

Here is the link to subscribe to the Viz of the Day:

For even more inspiration, check out the Iron Viz Gallery:

COVID-19 INFODEMIC - Tools for Myth Busters!

As a data specialist (and someone with family members at high risk for COVID-19), I have been following researchers and collecting a personal library of COVID-19 data visualizations, datasets, and scholarly articles. With so much information generated daily, it is hard to keep up and sift through sources to find credible information.

This week, I watched a UW Now Livestream featuring Professor Ajay Sethi on "Confronting Covid-19 Misinformation". In his talk, Professor Sethi shows how our scientific understanding of COVID-19 is improving with time.“The problem, however, is that running in parallel with this expansion of knowledge about COVID-19, is the spread of vast amounts of misinformation and disinformation (misinformation spread deliberately), called the COVID-19 INFODEMIC.” 

Professor Sethi also explores why it may be easy to believe COVID-19 misinformation and offers approaches to confront misinformation in our society. I was intrigued by his example of a fact checking organization, the Corona Virus Facts Alliance, fighting this INFODEMIC. On their website, they have a visualization showing categories of hoaxes with each fact check represented by a circle that you can hover over for details on the falsehood.


The term “COVID-19 INFODEMIC” is new to me, so I wanted to learn more. Here are additional resources I found:

Lastly, check out “Dear Pandemic” on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They are a diverse group of public health researchers providing the public with evidence-based answers about COVID-19. 


Searching for Census Tracts? - replacements for American Fact Finder.

For many years LINKcat libraries in SCLS have used the U.S. Census Bureau's "American Fact Finder" address search tool to determine the Census tract and/or the legal  municipality of patron addresses.  The U.S. Census Bureau has discontinued access to the American Fact Finder tool as of 3/31/2020.  Here are some options for library staff to use to help determine the Census tract or municipality for patron records.

The U.S. Census Bureau is now providing an updated digital Census Tract map that can be found here: You have to enable these options in the left sidebar - Census Tracts, Blocks layer and the Places and County Subdivisions layer - to indicate the type of information you are searching for. Enter the address in the Address Search bar along the top to find where a particular residence falls within these areas.

Another resource is My Vote WI - this works well to determine smaller incorporated places and townships. The exception to this is places like Village of Brooklyn which is in multiple counties, because the My Vote site doesn't distinguish which county an address is in.

AccessDane provides county subdivision-level info via address searches for Dane County addresses only.

Wisconsin Hometown Locator:  Address Based Research & Map Tools.
Wisconsin Statewide Parcel Map:   After you enter the address you need to right click the map to get the info.

Big thanks to Alicia, Joe and Rachel for compiling these resources!


Dashboard of Major Employers

When collecting community data, I often get asked what businesses are in the area. Often that data is only available from subscription databases, so I was thrilled when I heard about the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development LMI (Labor Market Information) dashboard that provides free access to major employers in a city or village. Here are steps to do a search:

Go to Wisconsin LMI Data Access


1.  Click on the Create Visualization tab

2.  Select Category = Business AND Sub Category = Employers By Area - Info Group

3.  Click on Generate Visualizations

4.  Hover over the Employers - Major Employers visualization AND  Click on Load Visualization


5.  Select your County

6.  Select your City (or Village)

7. Select an employer to get details about the business.

Want more details?  Check out the other LMI visualization, Employers - Size and Contacts, to view businesses by NAICS sectors such as construction, education, health care, manufacturing, etc.  


2020 Census | Response Outreach Area Mapper (ROAM)

The US Census Bureau has created the Response Outreach Area Mapper (ROAM), an application to view the Low Response Score (LRS), a percentage of households in a census tract predicted to NOT respond to the Decennial Census. It also provides easy access to valuable housing, demographic, and socioeconomic data. 

Using Dane County, Wisconsin as an example, here are 10 steps to help libraries get started using ROAM.



2. VIEW YOUR COUNTY- Use the dropdown to select Search by County or zoom-in to your County.

3. ADD STREETS – Select the Basecamp Gallery icon and then select Streets.

4. ADD LIBRARIES – Select the Add Data icon, enter Wisconsin, and ADD Libraries and Branches, Wisconsin 2019, Feature Service by Wisconsin_DPI. Explore other layers.

5. VIEW LEGEND- Select the Legend icon to understand how color is being assigned to the Low Response Score (LRS).

6. CHANGE LAYER DISPLAY – Select the Layer List icon and select select the 3 dots next to Low Response Score by 2017 Census Tract to change the transparency (brightness). Layers can also be turned on or off.

7. SELECT A CENSUS TRACT – Select a census tract on the map to view the Low Response Score (LRS), ACS estimates, and FCC High-Speed Connection rates.

8. SHOW ATTRIBUTE TABLE – Select the down arrow to view the attribute table. Adjust map view so all areas of interest are displayed. Attributes are defined in the ROAM Data Dictionary.

9. SORT/FILTER/EXPORT ATTRIBUTE DATA – Any column can be sorted by clicking on the column label. The data can also be filtered and exported to a csv for further analysis. Here is an example of how to filter data for multiple counties. Be sure geometry for the filtered data is displayed on the map or turn off “Filter by Map Extent”.

10. LEARN MORE - ROAM has numerous resources including a Quick Tips Guide and a Recorded Webinar: You can also select the Information icon.


Dashboards - Fast Facts by Library or County

The Fast Facts dashboard,!/vizhome/AnnualLibraryReportFastFacts2009-2015/LibraryFastFacts now includes all Wisconsin libraries

Library Fast Facts

AND a new tab for County Fast Facts.

County Fast Facts

The dashboards use the 2012-2018 Wisconsin Public Library Service Data provided by libraries via their annual report. Filters at the top of the dashboards allow a library or county, and a year to be selected. Additional details can be viewed by hovering over areas of the dashboard.


At the bottom right hand corner of Tableau dashboards, there are options to 1. Share, 2. Download, or 3. Full Screen.

  • Share Embed Code: Click on the share icon to get an embed code, a block of HTML, which allows the dashboard to be added in a website or blog. The Fast Facts dashboard is embedded on this SCLS web page, which automatically updates whenever changes are made.
  • Share-Link: After filtering to data of interest, click on the share link to provide a direct link to the filtered results.
  • Download: After filtering to data of interest, click on download and then select the format. An image, PDF, and PowerPoint allows the dashboard to be used for handouts or presentations.
  • FullScreen: Use the full screen to explore the data.

This and other library dashboards are published on the South Central Library System (SCLS) Tableau Public page:!/. Please share ideas to make any of them better!

FUN FACTS: Fourth of July

According to the United States Census Bureau, American flags are big business with $6.3 mil imports and $20.8 mil exports in 2018. Statistics like these are highlighted on Fun Facts:Fourth of July



This and other holiday visualizations are made available from the United States Census Bureau Statistics in Schools which offers free educational resources using real life data. Besides Fun Facts, they provide other resources including maps, games, videos, and more. Activities are available by topic and grade levels with teaching guides.

Check it out, have a fun (safe) 4th of July, and don't forget your American flag!

Forward Analytics

The Wisconsin Counties Association formed a new research organization, Forward Analytics, to provide nonpartisan analysis of issues affecting the state. Their mission is “to use the best data available to highlight challenges facing the state, and to assist policymakers in understanding that data so they can make informed policy decisions”.  Worker shortages, changing demographics, and the opioid crisis are among the issues impacting the direction of the state and counties.

Research Reports and a “data lab” (compiled state statistics) are freely available on their website: Be sure to check out their latest report: Falling Behind: Migration Changes and State Workforce.


Say NO to Pie (Charts)

I couldn’t say no to my colleague’s Kentucky bourbon pecan pie that he made for our annual potluck. (It is delicious!) I do, however, say no to using pie charts after learning there are better chart types to visualize your data.

Although pie charts have the ability to show a part-to-whole relationship, data visualization experts are not fans of them. Here are a few articles highlighting the problems with pie charts:

The takeaways from these articles are:

1. Pie charts are more difficult for our brains to process based on visual perception science (Gestalt Principles). Comparing areas and angles takes time and is something we do not do accurately.

2. There are better chart types to tell a story. Experts recommend horizontal ranked bar charts, stacked bar charts, and other chart types that are easier to interpret. Here are resources to help you pick the right chart:

There is good news for those who cannot leave their pie charts. Authors of the Big Book of Dashboard, have found that bar charts can live in harmony with pie charts. Here is a recent post:  

If you still love pie charts, you may also like this cookie pie chart, but be sure to pair it with a quality bar chart (and a glass of milk).

Google Dataset Search (Beta)

Finding datasets just got easier with:


Google's new service, released in September, allows for a simple search across millions of datasets from publishers, government sites, academic repositories, news organizations, and other data sources.  I did a quick search for Wisconsin Water Quality and was fascinated by the variety of datasets available. Give it a try - it's free!