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GIS (Geographic Information System) Resources

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A Brief Introduction to GIS
Library Resources for GIS

Reference Articles

Wanting to find basic information about GIS? Dive into the Encyclopedia of GIS.

Also, try searching our electronic reference collections via the Sage and Gale publisher options in the search box below. See results for the sample search on geographic information systems.



Browse the call number G70.212 to find many books on GIS in Booth Library.

In the library catalog, the term geographic information systems will yield books on the topic.

Search the library catalog:  

Journal Articles

There are many ways GIS is applied across the disciplines. Choose from the list of subject databases below or see an A-Z list of all databases at Booth Library.
Article Databases  
Biological Sciences Biological & Agricultural Index Plus
  Biosis Previews
Business and Economics Business Source Elite
Geosciences GeoRef
Sociology Social Sciences Abstracts
Technology Applied Science & Technology
Multidisciplinary Academic Search Complete
  Google Scholar
Not sure where to begin? Choose Academic Search Complete and try keywords like:
  - data mining   - geospatial data
  - digital mapping   - GIS
  - geodatabases   - location-based services
  - geographic information science   - mobile geographic information systems
  - geographic information systems   - spatial analysis (geography)
  - geographical location codes   - wireless geolocation systems

Browse GIS-related journals, magazines, and news

Access courtesy of Booth Library
Applied GIS -- Contains articles covering specific applications of GIS, demonstrating the deployment of spatial sciences in a wide range of environmental and social science contexts. Includes peer-reviewed articles.

Cartography and Geographic Information Science -- The official publication of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. Includes peer-reviewed articles.

Geoinformatica -- This journal aims to promote the most innovative results coming from the research in the field of computer science applied to geographic information systems. Includes peer-reviewed articles.

GeoJournal -- An international journal devoted to all branches of spatially integrated social sciences and humanities. Includes peer-reviewed articles.

International Journal of Digital Earth -- Publishes articles on applications to improve human conditions, protect ecological services, and support future sustainable development for environmental, social, and economic conditions in connection with the Digital Earth initiative. Most recent 18 months not available. Includes peer-reviewed articles.

International Journal of Geographical Information Science -- Strives to provide a forum for the exchange of original ideas, techniques, approaches, techniques, approaches & experiences in the rapidly growing field of geographical information science. Most recent 18 months not available. Includes peer-reviewed articles.

Journal of Spatial Science -- Covers the theory and practice of the spatial sciences as well as practice and implementation of techniques related to cartography, geodesy, geographic information science, hydrography, photogrammetry, remote sensing or surveying. Most recent 18 months not available. Includes peer-reviewed articles.

Transactions in GIS -- An international journal that publishes original research articles, review articles, and short technical notes on the latest advances and best practices in the spatial sciences. Most recent 12 months not available. Includes peer-reviewed articles.

Available freely online
ArcWatch -- GIS news, views, and insights from Esri, a GIS company.

Directions Magazine -- Information about the latest industry developments and geospatial information technology.

GeoConnexion -- News and articles from geotechnology industries in the UK, Europe, Middles East, Africa, North America and Asia. Free access to all online news and articles, as well as the current issues of Geo: International and Geo UK.

GeoInformatics Magazine -- Provides coverage, analysis and commentary with respect to the international surveying, mapping and GIS industry. Subscription to digital magazine is free.

Geospatial World -- Provides insight and analysis of technology trends, applications and business dynamics of GIS, remote sensing, GNSS, Surveying & Mapping, BIM, LiDAR and several upcoming technologies.

Illinois GIS Notes: The Newsletter of the Illinois GIS Association -- Descriptive articles about GIS projects, applications, and activities from around the state, as well as Conference Papers, News, and Calendar of Events.

Sensors & Systems -- Serving organizations and individuals that measure, model and manage the natural world as well as those that design, develop and engineer today’s built infrastructure.

Scoop Geoprocessing -- News about geoprocessing.

Ask a librarian for assistance with locating resources on geographic information systems.
Find Data
Also see the Booth Library Statistics research guide for more data sources

Illinois GIS Data

Illinois Natural Resources Geospatial Data Clearinghouse
Access Illinois GIS data sets and documentation (metadata) for ArcIMS Interactive Map Services, USGS digital topographic maps, aerial photography, orthoimagery, orthophotography, geology, land use, natural resources, and infrastructure.

Illinois Department of Public Health, Data & Statistics
Link to several sources of public health statistics for the state of Illinois.

Coles County GIS and Coles County GIS/IT
From the Coles County Regional Planning & Development Commission. Also search the Coles County Tax Map Viewer: data may be viewed in an Internet browser, but cannot be downloaded.

Federal GIS Data

U.S. Geological Survey
The National Map
A public collection of standardized nationwide datasets at a high level of resolution, including elevation, hydrology, transportation, administrative boundaries, land cover, imagery and the popular USGS topographic map series.

National Map Small-Scale Collection
Commonly used base data for the United States.

U.S. Census Bureau
American FactFinder
Access data about the United States, Puerto Rico and the Island Areas. The data in American FactFinder come from several censuses and surveys.

TIGER/Line Shapefiles Data
Cartographic boundary files for states, counties, and smaller census enumeration units, with additional base data including roads and streams. To access the data, select a year, then click Download and choose "Web interface."

TIGER/Line Shapefiles pre-joined with Demographic Data
A limited set of TIGER/Line Shapefiles are available pre-joined with data in geodatabase and shapefile format.

Historical Census Data (National Historical Geographic Information System - NHGIS)
Summary statistics and GIS boundary files for U.S. censuses and other nationwide surveys from 1790 through the present.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC WONDER (Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research)
An easy-to-use, menu-driven system that makes the information resources of the CDC available to public health professionals and the public at large. It provides access to a wide array of public health information.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
This information includes clinical care provider quality information, nationwide health service provider directories, databases of the latest medical and scientific knowledge, consumer product data, community health performance information, government spending data and much more. From CMS, CDC, FDA, NIH, and others.

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Census of Agriculture
The leading source of facts and figures about American agriculture. Conducted every five years, the Census provides a detailed picture of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them.

Areas of specific cropland since 1997, from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. Metadata for Cropscape is available here.

Quick Stats
Downloadable agricultural statistics for every state and county in the U.S.

Soil Survey Geographic Database (SSURGO)
County level soil survey data.

Federal Highway Administration
GIS Data
Highways and bridges. Also contains links to many other federal GIS data sources.

Geoplatform Data
Searches a comprehensive catalog of government data maintained by and only returns geospatial data. GeoPlatform was developed by the member agencies of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) through collaboration with partners and stakeholders.
The U.S. Government's open data at the federal, state, and local levels.

Non-governmental GIS Data

Natural Earth
A volunteer-led resource that provides common GIS data layers for the entire world at three different scales. Natural Earth data has been cartographically generalized for small-scale mapping, meaning the data files are relatively small and easy to work with and are suitable for maps of larger regions (e.g. several states, a country, a continent or the entire world).

A crowdsourced alternative to commercial geobrowsers such as Google Maps, with data on roads, buildings and points of interest (POIs). All OSM data around the world is in the public domain and available for download (warning: large file sizes).
Using GIS in the Classroom
On Using GIS to Teach in the Social Sciences -- Article by Jill Harris, published in Thought & Action (2012).

How to Teach With Google Earth -- Curricular ideas from the Science Education Resource Center.

Google Maps and Google Earth -- From Google, Inc., ideas for teaching across multiple disciplines.

SpatiaLABS -- GIS activities for college students in multiple disciplines. Exercises include guidelines for instructors and students and accompanying data. From Esri, a GIS company.

Open Education Resources
OER Commons -- Sample instructional material, data, and textbooks for the college GIS professor.

MERLOT -- GIS resources for the college classroom.

Let's Talk Teaching event @ EIU

Have you ever thought about how to enhance the classroom experience with custom maps, geographic data analysis or interactive visualization? Various types of GIS software and data are available to support your ideas, ranging from free web mapping tools to professional software for data creation, spatial and statistical analysis. There also exist numerous publicly available GIS datasets created by government agencies, non-profit organizations and volunteers from around the world that can be used to explore various social, environmental, economic and political issues.

In the above video, EIU faculty present ways in which they are incorporating GIS in their classes and methods for the lay-person to use GIS in the classroom. Speakers include Dr. Karen Gaines (GIS software), Dr. Chris Laingen (joining data), Dr. Newton Key (‪scalable mapping in the humanities classroom), Dr. Dave Viertel (‪crowdsourced imagery analysis: TomNod‬), Dr. Barry Kronenfeld (incorporation of voluntary geographic information in social media), Dr. Jill Deppe (land cover maps and landscape change), Dr. Dave Viertel (data sources), and Dr. Barry Kronenfeld (cartograms, e.g.,

Thanks to Dr. Barry Kronenfeld for his assistance and recommendations in compiling this guide.
Link back to this guide
Subject Specialist
Picture: Kirstin Duffin

Kirstin Duffin
Science Librarian
Office: 217 581-7550

Reference Desk: 217-581-6072
Email the Reference Desk

Campus Resources
GIScience Center at EIU

Identify Academic Programs in GISciences
Explore GIS Facilities & Resources
Connect with Faculty & Staff who use and teach GIS.
Free GIS Software
ArcGIS -- Students currently enrolled at EIU may use this Esri software FREE for one year for educational purposes only. Contact Dr. Barry Kronenfeld for more information.
QGIS -- A free and open source geographic information system.
CartoDB -- Cloud-based mapping.
GRASS GIS -- Free and open source GIS software suite. Available on the Booth Library computers located on the West side of the 4000 Level behind the LTS service desk.
Careers in GIS
Learn more about the types of jobs available to those with GIS training at

Another resource for career information is the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Featured GIS Books at Booth Library

Discovering GIS and ArcGIS
Call number:
G70.212 .S54 2015x

The GIS 20: Essential Skills
Call number:
G70.212 .C58 2013

The SAGE Handbook of GIS and Society
Call number:
G70.212 .S24 2011x

Google Maps: Power Tools for Maximizing the API
Call number:
G70.212 .P495 2014x

Learning Geospatial Analysis with Python
Call number:
G70.2 .L39 2013x

Web Cartography: Map Design for Interactive and Mobile Devices
Call number:
GA102.4 .E4 M82 2014
GIS and Public Health
Call number:
RA566 .C764 2012