Loading Library Hours...

Guide to Sources in Geography & Geographic Information Science

Guide to Sources in Geography & Geographic Information Science


Location of Materials | Call Numbers | Guides to Geography Sources | Article & Journal DatabasesBook Reviews Directories Background Information: Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, & HandbooksResearch Methods & Writing Guides | Geographic Names | Atlases | Statistical Sources & Datasets| Almanacs & Yearbooks



Location of Materials

All titles listed in this guide are located in the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library Reference Collection unless otherwise noted. Access to many of the online resources listed is restricted to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Community. The location SSHEL RCC indicates the item is held in the SSHEL Reference Circulating Collection.



Call Numbers

Call numbers are groups of numbers and/or letters that classify library items by subject. Items are arranged on bookshelves by call number. The Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL) uses both the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification systems.

Geography Call Numbers



Guides to Geography Sources

Lists of information sources such as books, journals, websites, and databases about specific subject, with corresponding brief descriptions.

026.9120973 C633g 2006
Guide to US Map Resources. 2006. (Map Library Reference)
This edition lists large or important map collections in the United States. These collections are grouped within their respective cities and states and listed alphabetically by state. Each entry includes the institution name, person(s) responsible for the collection, strengths of the collection, accessibility (hours, circulation policies, etc), the availability of Geographic Information Systems, percentage of the collection classified, catalogued and available to the public, details of the physical facilities, and special notes. Multiple appendixes provide details of both the long and short versions of the data-generating surveys, ranking of the featured collections by number of holdings within their institutions type (academic, public, etc.), and indexes of both featured institutions and individuals.



Article & Journal Databases

Databases are structured sets of information, stored in print or online. Often, databases are online collections of journal article citations and full-text. Find articles about specific topic by using keywords, subject headings, authors, and more. 

GEOBASE (online)
Identifies the journal literature in Earth sciences, ecology, geosciences, development studies, geomechanics, human geography and oceanography.

GeoRef (online)
Identifies articles, books and other publications on geology and earth sciences.

The Geographical Review. 1916-. (online)
Scholarly journal from the American Geographical Society which includes essays about developments and new fields of study in geography. Includes reviews of books, monographs, and atlases.

GIS Bibliography
Covers the literature of geographic information systems, science, and technology.

Web of Science (online) (includes Science Citation Index and Social Science Citation Index)
This multidisciplinary database identifies journal articles and cited references in all social science disciplines. Allows searching for articles on a particular topic, or for articles that have cited a known article. Lists references that can be used to search for related articles with common citations.



Book Reviews

Resources that include reviews of book, either non-fiction-or fiction, where a books is evaluated based on content, style, and merit. 

Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 1911- (online)
Multiple book reviews about various geography topics. Also includes articles about environmental sciences; methods, models, and GIS; nature and society; and people, place, and region.

910.5 GE
Geography : journal of the Geographical Association. 1901- (online)
Published by the U.K.’s Geographical Association. Includes articles and books reviews. SSHEL has last five years of publication; previous years are in Oak Street.

The Professional Geographer. 1949- (online)
Published by the Association of the American Geographers, this journal includes scholarly articles and book reviews about a broad range of geography topics.




Directories are a list of organizations, groups, people, places, or other data systematically arranged often alphabetically or by location.

Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas. (online)
This is a three-part book: a guide, a handbook, and a directory. The Guide offers information on both higher education geography programs (degrees, degree requirements, program specialties, and financial aid) and the institutions (governmental, private, and research) that employ geographers. These entries are arranged alphabetically first by US state, then Canadian province, and then by Latin American countries. The Guide also features a list of institutions that serve minority populations and a chart detailing the number and type of geography degrees conferred by year. The AAG Handbook details the personnel and infrastructure of the Association of American Geographers, as well as awards received by the AAG. Finally, the Directory of Geographers offers both an alphabetical and geographic listing of the members of the AAG.



Background Information: Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, & Handbooks

Background information can be found in reference sources, online or in print such as dictionaries, encyclopedias and handbooks. Dictionaries contain brief definitions, usually only a sentence or two in length. Encyclopedias provide a more in-depth description, usually a few paragraphs in length. Handbooks, contain descriptions that can be multiple pages and describe the development and future of a subject.


G63 .M39 2015
Dictionary of Geography. 5th ed. 2015
This book covers terms used in both human and physical geography. There are over 3,100 definitions across a variety of fields related to geography, such as cartography, climatology, population and geology. The terms being defined appear in alphabetical order and in some cases contain cross-references to other related terms.

910.3D562 2009
The Dictionary of Human Geography. 5th ed. 2009. (online)
This fifth edition contains over 1000 entries, including 300 new entries, about all aspects of human geography. This edition also charts the development of new themes and research within human geography and connections with other fields. Entries are listed alphabetically in bold type. Each entry contains cross-references and suggested readings.  The dictionary also includes an index and a bibliography for readers to conduct more in-depth research.

GF4. C37 2013
A Dictionary of Human Geography. 2013
This dictionary lists over 2,000 names, terms, and places that are important to the study of human geography. Certain entries are given “web links” and “further readings” for those interested in learning more. Appendices at the end include a list of peer-reviewed human geography journals, a list of national and regional geographical societies, geography awards and winners, and maps. 

The Dictionary of Physical Geography. 2016. (online)
This dictionary defines terms and expounds on key concepts and issues within physical geography. This edition includes new terms in the areas of biogeography, geomorphology, oceans, hydrology, climate and atmosphere, the Quaternary period, environmental change, soils, and remote sensing and GIS. Definitions vary in length, and include cross-references and suggested readings. An alphabetical index of terms is included.

GIS Dictionary(online)
The GIS Dictionary is a free web-based resource from Esri, the makers of ArcGIS, that contains succinct definitions to geographic information systems (GIS) terms related to analysis, GIS modeling and web-based GIS, cartography, Esri software, and more. The site allows users to browse entries alphabetically or search for terms.


910 C7382 2007 
Companion Encyclopedia of Geography: from Local to Global. 2007. 2 vols. (SSHEL RCC)
Two-volume set containing sixty-four essays about physical and human geography written by academics from around the world. The preface describes the set as providing “an integrated view of geography through a unifying theme of place and places at different scales.” The essays are organized into six topical sections, and each essay includes suggestions for further reading and extensive references.

Q. 910.3 En195  
Encyclopedia of Geography.  2010. (online)
This six-volume encyclopedia, intended for students and the overall public, provides a general overview of 1,224 geographical and sub-disciplines topics including: Physical Geography; Human Geography; Nature and Society; Methods, Models and GIS; History of Geography; and People, Organizations, and Movements. Each entry provides cross-references and suggests further readings. The first volume includes a Reader’s Guide to help readers find entries on related topics. Features a List of Entries in each volume and a comprehensive Index in the sixth volume.

International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. 2009.
This 12-volume series documents and explains “the full spectrum of issues facing humanity today across the planet.” The essays, by over 800 contributors from 40+ countries, summarize the knowledge of the discipline, exploring relationships among people, places, and environments.  Volume One contains a “Guide to Use of the Encyclopedia,” list of contributors, table of contents, and subject classification list. A comprehensive index at the back of Volume Twelve allows for easy reference.

Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations. 13th ed. 2012. (online)
Provides a variety of information about each country including topography, climate, environment, population, industry, history, government, trade, banking, health, and education. Also includes a section on famous people from the country and a bibliography.



910 T918
21st Century Geography. 2012.
(SSHEL RCC and online)
This two-volume set organized into six topical sections: physical and environmental geography, human geography, nature and society, regions and regional perspectives, geographic information science, and applied and professional geography. Chapters are written by professional geographers or geographic researchers, and contain references and suggestions for further reading. Each chapter describes the history, twenty-first century developments, and future projections for the topic. The set also contains an appendix with annotated lists of notable books and reports, journals, and websites and information about specialty groups within the Association of American Geographers.

320.12 As355 
The Ashgate Research Companion to Border Studies. 2011. (SSHEL RCC and Online)
The Ashgate Research Companion series is written for scholars and graduate students and provides an overview of current research and trends in a particular field. This collection presents essays in the field of border studies written by international experts and promising new scholars. Border studies is a multidisciplinary field, and the entries span topics related to political science, political geography, history, international relations, conflict studies, and environmental studies around the world. The essays are divided into eight subsections, and the volume contains a names and a places index.

U.S. Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets (online)
Formerly called Background Notes, this resource provides country information from the U.S. Department of State including human and physical geography, economy, government, history, political conditions, and foreign relations. Includes dates of when information was last updated for each country / territory.

333.709 C738
A Companion to Environmental Geography. 2009.(SSHEL RCC and Online)
Each volume in this series provides detailed, up-to-date coverage of one of the major sub-disciplines of human geography. The series is written for geography students as well as teachers and practitioners. This volume is divided into four sections: concepts, approaches, practices, and topics, and each contain several chapters written by authorities in the field. Chapters include an extensive bibliography. The book also has a detailed definition of human geography, contributor geographies, and an index.

Country Studies (online)
Prepared by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under the Country Studies/Area Handbook Program. The series describes and analyzes the political, economic, social, and national security systems and institutions deal within particular foreign countries. Examines the interrelationships of those systems and the ways they are shaped by cultural factors.

Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2014. 2014. (online)
Reports from the U.S. Department of State. Textual information about countries in book and article format. Includes information about geography, statistics, history, government, political conditions, economy, and state relations with the United States.

320.12 C366g
Geopolitics: A Guide to the Issues. 2011.

Written for students, scholars, and general readers, provides a global perspective on international affairs; geography’s influence on a multitude of policies; and the historical, contemporary, and emerging issues in the multidisciplinary and ever growing field of geopolitics. Featured works include information about key people, national geopolitical practices, scholarly literature, grey literature, and current scholars. A map appendix and glossary is at the end of the book.

526.0285 C362i (Map Library)
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems. 2014.
Intended to provide new students of geographic information systems (GIS) with explanations of foundational GIS concepts and real-world applications of those concepts. Each chapter carefully explains GIS terms and concepts, and then provides relevant exercises to practice and reinforce the information. Includes bibliographical references and an index.

330.9 Ao94K
Key Concepts in Economic Geography. 2011.
Introduces readers to central concepts within economic geography through 20+ short essays on contemporary research in the field. An introductory chapter gives a brief overview of recent developments before moving into the bulk of information—key concepts that provide a more comprehensive examination of the varied aspects of economic geography. Summaries of key points for each concept are provided, as well as suggested readings. Diagrams and tables supplement the text.

910.014 K52 2008
Key Concepts in Geography. 2009.
This title explores the use and misuse of the concepts of space, place, time, scale, landscape, nature, systems, globalization, development, and risk in the field of geography. Each concept is presented in two chapters, and the chapters contain a brief definition, the principal arguments, discussion, real-life examples, and an annotated bibliography for further reading. The book also contains introductory and closing chapters about the emergence and divergence of geographical traditions and applied geography respectively.

910.91732 K52
Key Concepts in Urban Geography. 2009.
(SSHEL RCC and online)
This reference book explores different “ways of thinking about what makes cities what they are” (4). Articles on topics such as mobility, architecture, and community are grouped into five major categories: Location and Movement, Constructions, Envisioning and Experience, Social and Political Organization, and Sites and Practices. Each article ends with short list of key concepts related to that topic and a list of further readings. Contains bibliography, author index, and subject index.

304.2 K52
Key Texts in Human Geography. 2008.
The editors selected texts and excerpts of books that played a major role in the development of the human geography discipline. The collection’s mission is for students to learn about the history of the discipline without reading each book that has had an excerpt taken from it. Highlighted excerpts are arranged by date (1953 to 2005). Each entry contains a bibliography with more topical texts to explore.

910.02 H873p
Physical Geography: The Key Concepts. 2010.
This volume compiles approximately 100 major terms of physical geography, which were chosen for their relevance to the discipline as a whole (ex. energy), relevance to a branch of the discipline (ex. natural selection), and connection to other related disciplines (ex. plate tectonics). Entries are arranged alphabetically, run to several pages each, and include diagrams, charts, and tables. Terms used within definitions that have their own definition sections are bolded. Index includes both defined and related terms. The intended audience for this book is undergraduate students and interested general readers.

910.285 Sa183
The Sage Handbook of GIS and Society. 2011.
 (Map Library and online)
A retrospective and prospective overview of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and GIS society research that provides an expansive and critical assessment of work in that field. The audience is researchers, postgraduates, and GIS practitioners. The 27 chapters, often have an international focus and are organized into six sections: Foundations of Geographic Information and Society; Geographical Information and Modern Life; Alternative Representations of Geographic; Information and Society; Organizations and Institutions; Participation and Community Issues; and Value, Fairness, and Privacy. An index is included.

910.01 Sa184
The Sage Handbook of Geographical Knowledge. 2011. (SSHEL RCC and online)
Offers a look at areas that have influenced the development of geography today. Information is split into three sections: Orientations, Geography’s Venues, and Critical Concepts and Controversies. Orientations provides an overview of geography’s genealogies and history. Geography’s Venues looks at where and how geography is used and researched. The Critical Concepts and Controversies section delves into major topics such as landscape, spatial analysis, social class and ecosystem. Cross references are included for each topic as well as a detailed index by subject.

320.12 H191
The Sage Handbook of Political Geography. 2008.
(SSHEL RCC and online)
This edited work brings together 36 separate articles on current topics in political geography arranged into seven sections, with section having its own introduction. Topics include the definition and development of political geography, conceptions of the “state,” political geography and the environment, the role of political organizations, electoral geography and democracy, and the impacts of uneven global development.  The work is intended to address the “socialization of political geography … [that is] its growing engagement with social and political theory” and the “diversification of political geography.” Some articles include tables and maps, each entry provides extensive references, and there is both a cited-author index and a subject index.

304.2 Sa184
The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Geography. 2010. (online)
Written to facilitate discussion and scholarship on the way we think about and execute qualitative research in geography. The articles are divided into three sections which are intended to reflect commonly experienced stages of qualitative research: Openings, Encounters and Collaborations, and Making Sense. Articles are written by educators and professionals in geography and closely related fields. Includes an introduction by the editor and an alphabetical index.

304.2 Sa1842
The Sage Handbook of Social Geographies. 2010. (SSHEL RCC and online)
This in-depth, edited work addresses the links between geography and the social world at large. Twenty-seven articles in five sections cover social differences and diversities within and across geographic regions; geography’s impacts on social economies, physical and social health, and social justice; and methods for conducting social geography research. Each section includes an introduction, each article includes extensive references, and the volume includes an index.

910.285 Sp83
Springer Handbook of Geographic Information. 2012. (Map library and online)
This handbook is compiled of three sections: basics and computer science, geographic information, and applications (such as GIS, legal, etc.). Each chapter covers a unique topic and attempts to provide a complete summary. Includes a list of abbreviations, terms and definitions of the ISO 19100 standards, detailed content lists, and a subject index.

304.2 W648
The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Human Geography. 2011.
 (SSHEL RCC and Online)
This book provides an overview of the field of Human Geography. The three main sections are Foundations (the history of human geography from Ancient Greece to the late nineteenth century); The Classics (the roots of modern human geography); and Contemporary Approaches (current issues and themes in human geography). Each issue covered in the Contemporary Approaches section has two chapters offering differing perspectives from two contributors. An index is included.

The World Factbook (online)
From the Central Intelligence Agency, this factbook includes information on countries of the world. The content of this site focuses on current statistical data with emphasis on economy, government, transportation, geography, and social environment. Appendices and general reference maps are also included.



Research Methods & Writing Guides

Research Guides provide suggestions for finding and using information. Writing guides can help manage and create citations, develop a research plan, and write specific types of articles or papers. 

910.72 K52 2010
Key Methods in Geography. 2010.
This book introduces undergraduates to the principal methodological issues involved in the collection, analysis and presentation of geographical information. It provides an accessible overview on all issues from research design to presentation and contains definitions of terms from both human geography and physical geography. The book is organized into four parts: Getting Started in Geographical Research; Data Collection in Human Geography; Data Collection in Physical Geography; and Analyzing and Representing Geographical Data. Contains a glossary and index, as well as annotated suggestions for future reading.

910.72 R311
Research Methods in Geography: A Critical Introduction. 2010.
This comprehensive textbook offers a conceptual and practical introduction to research methodology, data collection, and techniques used in both human and physical geography. It explores a full range of contemporary geographic techniques; including statistics, mathematical analysis, GIS, and remote sensing. The book includes a series of foundational chapters offering multiple perspectives on the central questions in research methods. It examines the conceptual frameworks and practical issues behind data acquisition and analysis, and how to interpret results. Includes explanations of key terminology and exercises throughout, as well as an index, glossary, and annotated suggestions for further reading.



Geographic Names

These sources were established to maintain uniform geographic name usages and can include a description and history of place names. 

Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names® Online (TGN)
Includes names, descriptions, and other information for places important to art and architecture.

U.S. Board on Geographic Names
The Board on Geographic Names was established to maintain uniform geographic name usage. It provides information for both national and international names of places, including populated areas and physical geographic features.




Atlases of various types; including political, visual/pictorial, climate, country-specific, historical, and population; are located in the Map Library (418 Library).

911 SH4H 1964
Historical Atlas. 1964.
(Multiple locations)
This collection of maps of the world spans the time of Ancient Egypt until the creation of this edition in 1964. The maps illustrate changes in lands and their occupants over the centuries. Highlights specific eras preceding or following war, locations of known spoken languages, and era specific drawings (e.g. illustration of the plan of a medieval manor). A table of contents guides the reader by country, event, or people (such as “The Indians in the United States until 1905”). An index and supplementary index direct the reader primarily by city.

Q. 912 N212n 2010
National Geographic Atlas of the World. 2010.
(Map Library)
This atlas features more than 150,000 place names on 78 map plates; maps are physical, political and thematic. A section on space follows the map plates and features charts of the solar system and maps of the moon and Mars. “Nations” comes after and depicts the names, flags and facts of the world’s countries, which are listed alphabetically. A chart of world time zones and a list of foreign terms provide supplementary information. Finally, an index lists every location represented by the maps; if a location is featured more than once, the index lists the best presentation of that location. User friendly, this atlas offers “how to guides” interspersed throughout the book.



Statistical Sources & Datasets

Statistical sources contain numerical facts or data. A database is a collection of data. Also see the Geospatial Data Guide

A Guide to State and Local Census Geography. (Online)
This guide provides statistics about states, unincorporated territories, and commonwealths.  Statistics include information on American Indian areas, metropolitan areas, counties, county subdivisions, incorporated places, census tracts/block numbering areas, and other information of general geographic interest. Also contains tables of selected data from the 2010 Census, figures of census divisions, and a glossary.

DOC. C33 134/5
State and Metropolitan Area Data Book: 2010. (Main Stacks Government Documents and Online – PDF)
Supplement to the Statistical Abstract of the United States. Summarizes social and economic statistics of states, metropolitan areas, and micropolitan areas. Includes data from various government statistical agencies as well as nonprofit organizations and private businesses. Includes a Guide to Tabular Presentation and Explanation of Symbols and Terms.

SimplyMap. (Online)
Compiles customized maps and tabular reports from numerous United States locations using over 70,000 data variables covering demographics, employment, real estate and housing, crime, business, and consumer spending. Allows users to share maps and reports via URLs, GIF images, and PDF images. Users can create a free account to save their maps.

County & City Data Book. 2007. (Online)
Compilations of census data for counties and large cities. Includes data on population, employment and income, as well as financial, educational and vital statistics.

Almanacs & Yearbooks

Almanacs are a compilation of useful data and statistics relating to countries, personalities, events, and subjects. Yearbooks are an annual compilation of facts and statistics on a particular subject for the preceding year.

The History of Celestial Navigation Rise of the Royal Observatory and Nautical Almanacs. 2020. (Online)
This text, written collaboratively by scientists and historians, reviews the history of nautical navigation over the past five-hundred years. Focused on the celestial navigational systems and technologies created in the historical United States and United Kingdom, the authors analyzed intuitional standards developed and their impact on current navigational practices. This resource is recommended to anyone with an interest in astronomy, the history of science and technology, and navigational structures.