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The Evolution of GIS Services in Academic Libraries

Authors: David Cowen*, University Of South Carolina
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: GIS, Libraries
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 2:15 PM / 3:30 PM
Room: Virtual Track 9
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper reports on the role that academic libraries play in providing support for GIS related services. Findings from a review of literature, interviews and a survey indicate that libraries are responding to new GIS related opportunities and demands. Over the past 25 years the expansion of services has followed a classic pattern of the diffusion of innovation. The evolution has been fueled by dramatic changes in technology and increased awareness. While libraries at a few major research universities participated in a GIS literacy program in the early 1990s most librarians were not ready to deal with GIS technology. The development of user-friendly software on common desktop computers served as a catalyst for adoption in this century. In the current stage access to online services and massive collections of GIS themes enable an academic library to serve as a focal point for campus GIS support including GIS day, licensing and training. It is common to find librarians supporting “GIS Lite” applications such as Story Maps that subsequently lead to more sophisticated spatial analysis. Most noteworthy in this evolution has been the emergence of several libraries as GIS technology leaders. Using open source code, they are developing and promoting sophisticated geographic search catalogs. These online catalogs supported by consortiums of universities (i.e. the Big Ten) post links to data that can be discovered, previewed and downloaded. These services are promoting serendipitous discovery and facilitate required long term archival support for research data sets.

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