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The Potential of Geographical Information Systems GIS in Libraries


The Power of Mapping. The origins of GIS were in the overlay method ... Later, the concept of overlaying different map features on top of each other was ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Potential of Geographical Information Systems GIS in Libraries

The Potential of Geographical Information Systems
(GIS) in Libraries
  • Presented by Teri Ann Arion
  • 24 February 2006

The Power of Mapping
  • The origins of GIS were in the overlay method
  • Before the widespread availability of computers
    this effect was first achieved using a base paper
    map and then physically overlaying transparent
    printouts on top

When did GIS begin?
  • What is now the GIS field began around 1960, with
    the discovery that maps could be represented with
    simple computer programming code stored in a
    computer for later modification to the map

Computer Cartography
  • Early versions of GIS involved simple lines
    representing land features
  • Later, the concept of overlaying different map
    features on top of each other was used to
    investigate patterns and causes of spatial

What is a GIS?
  • Geographic information systems are computer-based
    systems that facilitate the input, storage,
    manipulation and output of geographically
    referenced data

What Drives a GIS?
  • The driving force behind a GIS is its ability to
    integrate spatial information with higher end
    statistical and analytical processes
  • GIS allows the user to link location or spatial
    data with tabular data in order to see
    relationships and patterns to derive patterns not
    readily apparent to the observer

Why use a GIS?
  • In a nutshell, if you have a question, a map,
    tabular data, a computer, and a GIS software
    application, you can utilize GIS to answer your

Who uses GIS?
  • GIS are rapidly becoming the essential tools of
    analysis at all levels of public- and
    private-sector management, administration and
  • People with the skill to use GIS are in demand
    across a broad range of professions, in
    government, business and nonprofit organizations

How are GIS used?
  • GIS provides a set of tools for planning,
    decision-making, operations management and
  • GIS is now being employed in a wide range of
    applications including urban and regional
    planning, environmental risk analysis, forest
    management, hazard analysis, emergency response,
    marketing, transportation planning, wildlife
    management, agriculture, and health care

The GIS Profession Evolves
  • While other occupations are aged, tested, and
    refined, the field of GIS is young and growing
  • GIS has rejuvenated other professions that were
    once set in their ways and as a result, there has
    been a merger between GIS and other professions

GIS Technology Evolves
  • In the case of GIS, it is necessary to understand
    basic geographic concepts in addition to
    developing specialty knowledge
  • various software packages, programming languages,
    and hardware are used
  • vast amounts of new data requires data management

Components of a GIS
  • People
  • Technology
  • Data
  • Data Presentation

People as GIS Components
  • It is the knowledge that people carry that makes
    them important
  • In order to properly function as a GIS
    professional it is necessary to have at least a
    general knowledge of geography and GIS

GIS Technology Component
  • Technological necessities for todays GIS
  • Software
  • Hardware
  • System Administration
  • Database Administration
  • Programming

GIS Software Component
  • May include products from ESRI, MapInfo, or
    AutoCAD (many other companies produce GIS
    products as well)
  • As GIS evolves, technicians and analysts must be
    proficient in using more than one GIS application

GIS Data Component
  • Data includes any information that is spatial or
    tabular that relates to geography and specialty
    fields, for example
  • parcels, crime statistics, or volcanic activity
  • Quality and accuracy of data is important and
    should always be considered
  • Metadata, or the data about data, is very
    important as more data becomes available

GIS Data Presentation Component
  • Representation of space and time can take the
    form of maps, graphs, charts, animations, and
  • Visualizing aspects in 3D or using creative
    symbology gives users new perspectives and can
    enable a higher level of communication
  • The World Wide Web offers a forum for interactive

GIS Specialty Fields
  • There is a need for GIS users to be able to make
    specific queries and analyses best conceptualized
    with a specialized knowledge base
  • As a result, GIS Specialists are learning
    specialized and focused fields while people in
    specialized fields are learning to use GIS

What is a GIS Librarian?
  • A GIS Librarian is a library professional with
    knowledge of GIS data models, concepts,
    techniques, technologies, and information and
    library science, and who can apply this knowledge
    in collecting, organizing, disseminating, and
    preserving geographically referenced data,
    providing general help in GIS reference and in
    displaying geospatial data

What Does a GIS Librarian do?
  • Technical Services aspect
  • metadata, cataloging, and selection
  • Public Services aspect
  • depends on the resources (people and dollars) of
    the library
  • depends on the Mission of the library

GIS in Library Public Services
  • Suppose a student comes to the library reference
    desk needing to create a map detailing the moose
    population for Anchorage
  • Let's also suppose that this student knows little
    about GIS except hearing that GIS is a wonderful
    tool ?

GIS in Library Public Services
  • This is something that would take a GIS Librarian
    no more than 15 minutes to do for the student
  • Not every library has someone on staff who can
    help with GIS
  • Or, should the student learn the skills and
    resources necessary to create the map on their
  • Who or where should this student be referred?

GIS in Library Public Services
  • Some libraries are more in the teaching mode,
    offering GIS workshops, one-one instruction, and
    in depth project assistance
  • These libraries likely have librarians that are
    on par with GIS Technicians and are GIS savvy,
    devoting the bulk of their day primarily to GIS
    and/or maps

GIS in Library Public Services
  • Reality
  • Most libraries do not have titled 'GIS'
  • Most librarians have subject specialty/liaison
    duties of which GIS may be just one small part
  • individual GIS instruction is just not practical
    or feasible for most libraries

GIS Services in Libraries
  • If a library chooses to provide a GIS service
    beyond collecting GIS data, the library staff,
    and their library administration must
    acknowledge, that a high end service is being

GIS Services in Libraries
  • Being able to assist users with the functionality
    of a GIS and the ability to work with digital
    datasets is very different than providing
    bibliographic instruction on how to use a
    bibliographic database or providing reference
    assistance to determine whether the library owns
    a particular title

Marketing GIS to Libraries
  • GIS needs to be marketed not only to reference
    librarians, but library administrators, as a
    management tool
  • Libraries wont adopt GIS until they understand
    that it has a management application that offers
    real value to libraries, and that library
    directors could be using GIS for their own
    planning processes

GIS in Library Strategic Planning
  • Analyze patterns of patron use in their libraries
    and branches using GIS tools to answer questions
  • What areas of the community are the patrons
    coming to use library services?
  • What are the characteristics of the populations
    served by each library?
  • Do the materials used vary by area served?

Learn More About GIS
  • There are many websites where you can learn more
    about GIS and other geospatial technologies, for
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//