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Geographic Information Science

Geographic inforamtion Science/Systems Web Resources
Geospatial Data Web Resources

The Map Library collects extensively in the areas of geographic information science and geographic information systems. Works on both topics can be found in the Library’s catalog by searching the subject : Geographic information systems.

A geographic information system is “a system of hardware, software, data, people, organizations and institutional arrangements for collecting, storing, analyzing and disseminating information about areas of the earth. (Dueker and Kjerne. Multipurpose Cadastre: Terms and Definitions . 1989). To be a fully-functioning GISystem, it must perform all of the operations necessary for data ingest and storage, manipulation and analysis, and output, and there always needs to be a purpose, a question to be answered, a query to be filled.  While many think of GISystems as only a way to manipulate data to create a map, outputs from a GISystem can be a single number (e.g., number of forested acres), a table (e.g., populations for all of the counties in Illinois), or a graphic such as a map.

Geographic information systems allow the combination of geographic/location data with attribute/theme data through computer-driven processes.The Map Library has a collection of geospatial data on CD-Rom . Much of this data, or newer versions of this data, may be available for download from websites devoted to geospatial data

Assistance with GISystems applications is available through the Library’s Numeric and Spatial Data Services

Geographic information science is the research field that underlies the creation and application of geographic information systems . GIScience encompasses theories,methods, technologies and data for understanding geographic patterns and relationships; it studies how geographic data is transformed into geographic information. The impacts of GISystem use on individuals and society as well as the impacts of society on GISystems are examined within GIScience as are foundational themes in geography and cartography. Broadly, there are five themes in GIScience: ontology and representation; computation; cognition; applications, institutions, and society; crosscutting themes (time, scale). ( Mark, 2003 )

Geographic Information Science/Systems Web Resources

GIS Lounge

“GIS Lounge is an information portal primarily relating to the field of geographic information systems. The purpose of this site is to provide introductory text for issues relating to GIS as well as interesting news items, tips, and resources for the geospatial field.”

National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA)
NCGIA publications available freely online from the 1990s.

University Consortium for Geographic Information Science

“World’s Leading” Free GIS software

Spatial Analysis and Decision Assistance Project
Free GIS software developed by University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory

GIS Timeline


Association of American Geographers Geographic Information Science and Systems

NCGIA Core Curricula
Includes curricula for technical programs, in GIScience, and in GISystems (1990 version).

Encyclopedia of Geographic Information Science
Karen Kemp. SAGE, 2008.

GIS Bibliography
Approaching 140,000 entries from journals, books conference proceedings and reports. Compiled by Esri.

Cartography and Geographic Information Science

Journal of Geographical Systems

Esri newsletter.


Transactions in GIS

GIS Dictionary
From Esri.

Geospatial Data Web Resources

Portals and Clearinghouses

“…shared and trusted geospatial data, services, and applications for use by the public and government agencies and partners to meet their mission needs.”

Starting the Hunt
“Guide to Mostly On-Line and Mostly Free U.S. Geospatial and Attribute Data” compiled at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies.

Geospatial data through Data.gov
Open US government data. Includes some examples of applications.

Volunteered Geographic Information
ALA Map and Geospatial Information Round Table Electronic Publication Series no. 12

Big Ten Academic Alliance GeoPortal
Metadata aggregator to assist in locating data.


United States Data

Natural Earth
Freely downloadable land cover and shaded relief data with worldwide coverage. Created from NASA data and graphically enhanced by the National Park Service. Web site and data access courtesy of Tom Patterson.

National Historical Geographic Information System
Aggregate census information for the United States between 1790 and 2000.

The National Map
“The National Map is a collaborative effort among the USGS and other Federal, State, and local partners to improve and deliver topographic information for the Nation. The geographic information available from The National Map includes orthoimagery (aerial photographs), elevation, geographic names, hydrography, boundaries, transportation, structures, and land cover. Other types of geographic information can be added within the viewer or brought in with The National Map data into a Geographic Information System to create specific types of maps or map views.”

National Elevation Dataset
Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data updated bi-monthly.

EPA Geospatial Resources
Gateway to geospatial data and applications.

Illinois Data

Illinois Geospatial Data Clearinghouse
Includes aerial photography 2005-   , surface elevations, land cover, boundaries, geology, hydrology, and climate.

International Data

Africa Data Dissemination Service (ADDS)
Part of USAID’s FEWS project.

Consortium for Spatial Information (CGIAR-CSI)

Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

INSPIRE Geoportal
Access to data from EU member states.

Natural Resources Canada — Geomatics
Gateway for Canadian remote sensing, geodetic information, and spatial data infrastructure.

Natural Resources Canada — Geography
Gateway to The Atlas of Canada, topographic maps and data, and geographical names resources.

Caribbean Environment Programme

Geoscience Australia