The CIC Explores Collaborative Strategies for Developing Geospatial Services

Jul 09, 2012

CLI Geospacial Map Image

The 2012 CIC Center for Library Initiatives Conference focused on the challenges and opportunities of building robust infrastructure to support the wide variety of campus needs for spatial representation of information. The conference explored the current state-of-play within the CIC, as well as looking at state-of-the-art systems being developed nationally in corporate and educational settings.

Space and place are concepts studied across disciplines. Sociologists study human social activity, archaeologists study how civilizations use space, religious scholars focus on the spatial aspects of particular religions, literary scholars study how characters in novels move through space and time. In other corners of the campus, biologists record the location of specimens in the field, arborists keep record the condition of stands of trees, and ornithologists track the migration of birds over multiple continents. All of these activities occur within--and interact with—space, both real and perceived. The list of the interdisciplinary users and uses of space and place could go on for pages and continues to grow. In the past, representation of space in each of these disciplines was limited to a two-dimensional map and the only interaction a user would have with the map would be simply viewing it. Now, and in the future, an array of tools exists to create dynamic and interactive representations of space for enhancing learning and research.

The map libraries of the CIC have taken steps to meet this need. The John R. Borchert Map Library at the University of Minnesota, for instance, created a tool for viewing historic aerial photographs for an Urban Studies course. The Donald W. Hamer Maps Library at Penn State is providing on-demand scanning services for students and faculty and scanned upwards of one thousand maps in 2011. Penn State will make these map images available via Flickr when appropriate and will soon be converting these files to kml for use in Google Earth. Penn State has also embarked on a long-term Sanborn Fire Insurance Map scanning project that should be finishing up toward the end of 2013. Michigan State University is serving licensed GIS-ready map images from a server, and Purdue and University of Michigan run GIS services out of their library systems to aid patrons with their digital projects.

Colleagues across the consortium are developing ways of working together to harness the richness of collections and expertise across our geospatial information libraries, share the costs of delivering these essential services to CIC faculty and students, and create strong, interdisciplinary, comprehensive collections of geospatial resources for the enhancement of teaching and research across the CIC.  For more information, please visit the CIC Center for Library Initiatives Annual Conference website.

  • Academic Collaboration