Issues and Directions
Instruction in GIS
Sariya Talip Clay
Reference and GIS Librarian
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
GIS in Research Libraries:
Tools for Business Research
Community College Coordinator, Higher Education
SARIYA Talip Clay began this informative session with an overview of an academic library's role in providing GIS services to the campus users. She covered five main points, including reasons for GIS services in the library, the learning process or curve, identifying and storing spatial data, current support for resources and instruction for GIS, and future directions.
Some reasons a library provides GIS services are that it is consistent with an academic library's role to provide information and services to all campus users in all formats and to provide access through tools and instruction. The learning curve is somewhat steep, but help is available for librarians interested in providing such a service, including online tutorials and a growing body of literature on the topic. While GIS services and resources are readily identified, there are budget considerations and issues of access that include high-end hardware, networking, and storage. Services can include development of instructional and outreach programs for use of GIS resources, and a leadership role for the library in developing services across disciplines. Clay is involved in building partnerships with consortia to facilitate data sharing and developing metadata.
Clay emphasized that there are tutorials for learning more about GIS information and tools, such as ArcView by ESRI. There are clearinghouses at national and state levels for data, and interactive mapping on the web for data such as tiger files from the Census bureau. She created a two-unit library credit course at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, "Exploring ArcView GIS in the Library." The course is not discipline specific, and it incorporates CSU information competence concepts, such as how to locate, organize and use available resources. She sees future directions for expanding GIS on campus to include short workshops for faculty; course-integrated instruction into new disciplines, and outreach to colleges and departments on campus in business and liberal arts. The URL for the Website Clay developed is http://www.lib.calpoly.edu/research/all_databases/gis/gis.html.
Ann Johnson, representing ESRI, presented background information on current tools and business uses for GIS. Applications include business information warehousing, data mining, data analysis, and new visualization technologies, including "smart maps" which link databases to maps.
Benefits to business of GIS information are based on changing business processes and advancements in GIS and IS technologies that make such data more readily available. Business applications include market analysis (clustering, competition, and comparison), customer targeting, distribution and routing. She provided an overview of ESRI products and of two ways for viewing the world with GIS: 1) raster (format used for satellite images and aerial photos) and 2) vector (format can show small details, such as houses and lakes). Examples she demonstrated of spatial data that could provide useful business information were census, roads, shopping centers, mountains and rivers, and state zip codes. Free CD-ROM tutorials that included some GIS data were provided to all attendees.