Data Storytelling: Advocating for the Library and Community


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Do your eyes glaze over at the sound of the word “data” or the sight of a table? Telling an engaging story makes data more powerful and meaningful to its intended audiences. Narratives communicate data in ways that can effectively showcase community needs or the impact of your library’s services, programs, and collections. Learn how to use data to tell a compelling story about the library and its role in the community. Presenters cover the basics of data storytelling and provide examples of using Census data to advocate for digital equity and influence community engagement and decision-making.

This free on-demand webinar—the final of six—is presented as part of the Census Data Literacy project, an initiative of PLA in partnership with ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office, which aims to build data literacy skills among library staff with the overall goal of promoting awareness and use of U.S. Census data in their communities. These webinars will be facilitated by Karen Brown, adjunct consultant, ACRL Consulting Services.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this on-demand webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Gain a foundation in data storytelling for library advocacy;
  • Apply a narrative framework to develop engaging stories that effectively communicate data about the library and community;
  • Know how libraries and community organizations can use data to advance equity and influence local decision-making; and
  • Discover potential uses of the Census Bureau’s resource, America Counts: Stories Behind the Numbers.

Who Should Attend

This free on-demand webinar is intended for library administrators and outreach librarians.


Kathleen McDowellKathleen McDowell, associate professor, School of Information Science, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, researches and publishes in the areas of storytelling as information research, social justice storytelling, and what library storytelling can teach the information sciences about data storytelling. She has been involved in training collaborations with universities, the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), and numerous nonprofits, including the fiftieth anniversary of the statewide Prairie Rivers Network that protects Illinois water.


Lauren MooreLauren Moore, the New York state librarian and assistant commissioner for libraries, New York Education Department, has overseen the services, programs, and operations of the New York State Library since 2019. She serves as the primary representative of the New York State Library and for the nearly 7,000 public, school, academic, and special libraries across the state. Moore was a commissioner on the New York State Complete Count Commission for the 2020 Census. Prior to her current position, she held leadership positions at the Pioneer Library System (NY) and Southern Tier Library System (NY).


Houman SaberiHouman Saberi, co-director, Community Tech New York (CTNY), is a community technologist and urban planner who works to ensure that underserved communities have direct governance over their digital ecosystem, allowing for greater self-determination and control over their collective digital voices. At CTNY, he supports complex multi-stakeholder projects such as the buildout of decentralized community-owned communications networks, digital equity coalitions, and the New York State Digital Equity Portal.


Tim SarkoTim Sarko has been employed by the U.S. Census Bureau for over twenty-five years.  He initially served as a supervisory survey statistician in 1995. Currently, as a data dissemination specialist, he is responsible for program planning, coordination, and implementation of data dissemination and outreach, and media activities for the Census Bureau. He promotes the use of Census data to anyone with an interest or a need to work with this valuable information, including media, community organizations, municipal officials, chambers of commerce, librarians, students, and entrepreneurs.


Important Registration Information

An ALA eLearning account is required to register for this free webinar. Don’t have an account? Create one for free by going to the “Log in” menu located at the top right corner of your screen. No membership is required to create the account.


This on-demand webinar is closed captioned in English (United States).

If you have a physical or communication need that may affect your access to this on-demand webinar, please contact us at or 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752) prior to registering so we can attempt to provide appropriate accommodations.

Tech Requirements

To playback this archived webinar you should use a browser with native HTML5 support. Please use the most up-to-date version available of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Edge. A fast Internet connection and computer is recommended.


This webinar is presented by the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

PLA members make it possible for us to provide continuing education opportunities like this webinar at no cost. We thank our members for their continuous dedication to the advancement of the public library field and our association.

If you have questions or problems accessing a recording, send a message to or call 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752).

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