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Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Introduction

this guide is intended to provide University of Iowa students and faculty with links to geographic data sources as well as help for the most commonly used mapping tools on campus


The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) LibGuide aims to provide students and faculty with the most useful datasets, resources, and tools for mapping information or conducting spatial analysis. If you are new to the concept of GIS, please visit Starting Point: GIS to get a basic understanding of the subject.

"A good cartographer is both a scientist and an artist."
– Erwin Josephus Raisz (1893 – 1968)

What is GIS?

GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, are powerful tools that help users to visualize, edit, analyze, produce, and manage geospatial data. By mapping these data, Geographic Information Systems help us to see and comprehend patterns and relationships in geographical space. Two of the most common examples of GIS are Esri's ArcGIS proprietary software and QGIS, an open source desktop software package for map making and analysis. If you are interested in learning more about using these products, or if you need assistance with a research project that makes use of GIS or digital mapping, including application development for web mapping on a research-related website, please submit a consultation request to the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio.

BTAA GIS Conference (Virtual and Free)

The fourth annual BTAA GIS Conference will take place virtually on Tuesday, November 8, 2023. It will feature informative presentations and talks on a range of geospatial topics. Our keynote speaker will be Katie McDonough of the Alan Turing Institute who will discuss machine learning for reading maps. For more information, please click here.

Registration is FREE. To register to attend, click here.

UIowa Libraries GIS @ Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio

The Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio collaborates with faculty and students on the digital design, implementation, and circulation of their research. Subscribing to a show more, tell less approach where digital scholarship–particularly the digital humanities–is concerned, the Studio embraces scholarly creativity and encourages interdisciplinary research and multiplatform circulation. In this manner, the Studio helps scholars tailor the presentation and application of their research to a variety of audiences.

If you need assistance with, or want to know more about, digital mapping with GIS software, HTML + JavaScript + CSS web map application development for an existing or envisioned website, or building tools for geospatial analysis with Python, please contact the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio and schedule a consultation.