The Productive Scholar: What Are Digital Map Datasets and Geographic Information Systems?

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Topic: What Are Digital Map Datasets and Geographic Information Systems?esri2
Speakers: Bill Guthe and Wangyal Shawa

Time: Thursday, February 27, 12:00pm
Location: HRC Classroom, 012 East Pyne, Lower Level

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is powerful research tool that allows a person to capture, store, view, manipulate, analyze, manage, and display all forms of geographically referenced data. Princeton faculty, students and staff use GIS technology to manage resources, explore spatial relationships, and visualize change. This presentation will provide an introductory overview to the technology and its capabilities, and highlight the services and geographic data provided by the Library and OIT.

T. Wangyal Shawa and Bill Guthe provided a highly informative overview of map resources and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) training at the University. One of the challenges in determining whether or not to use Google Maps or Google Earth versus GIS software is knowing in advance all the possible employments of your data. Visualization only, well, Google Maps, or other options, may be best. However, if you need the option of creating pliable data and data sets then you’ll want to use GIS software. On a parallel topic, if you need to sort through multiple years worth of geographic data or social/political data with geographic markers on the same or different continents, you probably need to consider accessing data sets.

Princeton University’s map collections include census data from numerous countries, and city population demographics from a number of the world’s most populous urban areas. There are standardized maps used for United States real estate purchases and construction dates, city zoning, tax lot boundary, parcel data (land value and ownership), and fire insurance, as well as maps detailing a range of geographic information, including road-specific and topographical maps. The University is acquiring new geographic data sets on a regular basis, so it would be impossible to list them all here. However, one thing to note is the ability to use data sets and GIS software in concert; feeding the data set information through GIS software will allow you to create highly useful and detailed mapping for research analysis. To find out more about available data sets, check out some of the below links. You will also find listed below links to GIS training and consulting resources which Wangyal Shawa and Bill Guthe regularly offer to students, faculty, and staff researchers.

University Map Collection homepage, this collection is located in Lewis Library, Fine Hall Wing.
Digital Map & GIS Center, here you can gain access to physical map data, as well as GIS and map dataset research consulting.
Princeton University Library Digital Maps & Geographic Data  searchable 10,000+ item map database.
Digital Map and Geospatial Information Center, link to resources including upcoming workshops and consulting opportunities.
Digital Map and Geographic Data (older interface for the database of the same name listed above).

Bill Guthe, GIS and Remote Sending Coordinator (OIT), helps faculty, staff and students use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and satellite image processing software. Prior to joining OIT in 2000, he held a number of positions in New Jersey state government integrating GIS into environmental decision-making. With Tsering Wangyal Shawa, Princeton University Library GIS librarian, he provides training and ongoing support to GIS and remote sensing software users.

Tsering Wangyal Shawa is a GIS and Map Librarian at Princeton.  He has widespread experience in selecting, creating, analyzing, and preserving geospatial data and maps.  He holds degrees in the areas of library science, education, geography, and cartography. He was born in Tibet and has lived and taught geography and cartography to high school students in India, Nepal, Kenya, and undergraduate students at the University of Juba, Sudan.


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