Why we’re building a Data Detective Agency – An Artefacto Labs Update

The Data Detective Agency is an Artefacto Labs project that we’ve been working on since sometime late last year. It’s taken a bit of time as we tried different approaches and ironed out some unnecessary complexity.

It’s an experiment in delivering Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for library staff in new and interesting ways. It’s also an attempt to support staff learning new skills using the scant tools and time that they have available.

Love it or hate it, email is still the key platform for our day to day working lives. But on the rare occasions it’s used to deliver learning content, it’s in the form of links to external learning platforms or invites to seminars in far off locations.

Data Detectives Agency is part of an attempt to create new kinds of small, accessible and interesting learning modules. It will start with a short course with each lesson delivered directly to your inbox. And the course will use storytelling as well as practical tips and tricks.

We decided to make it story-based because we want to help embed new forms of learning in the workplace and that sometimes includes learning things that are necessary but not necessarily interesting.

We chose data as the area to focus on because it has had (and continues to have) such a tremendous impact on the work of information professionals.

Data has changed the work of library staff and other information services, including:

  • The safe and ethical management of our member’s information
  • Managing and sharing community data
  • New services like Research Data Management
  • Making data-driven decisions
  • And demonstrating the value of the work we do.

Data skills are needed in the library and information sector and library professionals have a unique role to play.

So we’re emerging from accidental stealth mode to tell you a bit about what we’ve got in the works.

We’re starting small. A short course focusing on using Excel. Because as much as we might grumble, it’s a powerful data tool that we have at our fingertips.

It’s no secret that we like email. When it’s done right.

And we like detective stories. And that seemed reason enough to try something new.

Nothing we build exists in a vacuum. We’ve been inspired by some awesome courses in the past. Data Expeditions at MozFest) left their mark. So did Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. And interactive fiction. And Mathnet. And a lot of other things.

We’re excited to release this into the world but also to keep developing the idea into further resources. We’ve still got a bit more testing and tweaking to do but we’re keen to launch this to the world as soon as we can.

If you’d like to be notified when we launch, you can sign up here and we’ll keep you posted.