staff luncheon geosources

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This is a presentation for a staff luncheon. The topic is on geographic resources located in our library. This is to help inform staff of what materials are available to them and to library users.


  • 1.Geographic Sources
    • Geographic Resources
  • A tour of geographic sources, both print and online, used in providing reference services to library users

Royce Kitts 2. Geographic Sources

  • Geographic sources can
  • Help you locate a place
  • Tell you how to get there
  • Tell you about a location
  • Inform you about current events
  • Give you tips on business or recreational travel

3. Geographic Sources

  • Geographic sources also deal with time periods
  • They can be current and/or historical in nature
  • They can also deal with historical geography in relation to genealogy, military history, and place name changes

4. Geographic Sources

  • Political Change
  • The rate at which political changes occur in the world can make many print resources obsolete almost as soon as they are ordered
  • However, even out-of-date materials can be useful, as they provide historical information that may not be available in more current materials

5. Geographic Sources

  • Search Strategies
  • Reference librarians must be familiar with the geographical resources available to them
  • They should also remain flexible and creative in their search techniques
  • As always, a good reference interview can pinpoint the best resource for a given question

6. Geographic Sources

  • Scale
  • With maps and atlases, it is important to consider scale
  • Scale is that ratio of the distance on the map to the physical distance between the two points
  • Scale can be critical, and will depend on the planned use of the map itself the larger the scale, the less detail can be given on a single page

7. Geographic Sources

  • Projection
  • Projection deals with how things on a flat map look differently than they would on a globe
  • The most well-known example of map distortion is the Mercator Greenland Distortion.
  • Greenland appears to be about the same size as Africa

8. Geographic Sources

  • Projection(cont.)
  • On a Mercator projection map, Greenland appears to be about the same size as Africa which is actually 14 times larger

9. Geographic Sources Evaluation

  • Colors and symbols
  • Colors can be used to designate water, landforms and other man-made items
  • For example, many maps use blue for water, green for vegetation, and black for man-made items
  • Color can also be used to show elevation or population

10. Geographic Sources Evaluation

  • Symbols
  • The larger the area covered by a map, the fewer symbols that can be used, in order to avoid clutter
  • For example, a map of the U.S. printed on a single page may include only state boundaries and state capitals
  • By contrast, a map of a single state can accommodate roads and other symbols for the different towns

11. Geographic Sources

  • Other types of Geographic Sources

12. Geographic Sources

  • Historical Atlases
  • Popular historical atlases include:
  • The Times Atlas of World History
  • Historical Atlas of the United States
  • Historical Atlas of Kansas
  • Historical atlases can also focus on specific time periods and/or regions

13. Geographic Sources

  • Thematic Atlases
  • Examples of thematic atlases include:
  • Road atlases, such asThe Rand McNally Road Atlas
  • Mark Mattson'sAtlas of the 1990 Census
  • Patrick Moore'sAtlas of the Universe
  • Nicholas de Lange'sAtlas of the Jewish World

14. Geographic Sources

  • Gazetteers
  • A list of geographical names or features
  • Can be appended to an atlas or published separately
  • Can be locational or descriptive in nature
  • As with maps and atlases, out-of-date gazetteers can provide valuable historical information

15. Geographic Sources

  • Here is a sample entry from theHistorical Gazetteer of the United States
  • Note that it includes:
  • town name
  • county
  • region of state
  • distance to nearest big city
  • important events in town history

16. Geographic Sources

  • Useful gazetteers include:
  • The Columbia Gazetteer of the World
  • Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary
  • Rand McNally Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide

17. Geographic Sources

  • Here is a sample entry from theColumbia Gazetteer of the World
  • Note that it includes:
  • name of place
  • place type (town, city, village, etc.)
  • state, national, and world location
  • longitude and latitude
  • major industry or goods manufactured
  • some historical information

18. Geographic Sources

  • Travel Guides
  • Includes travel literature by publishers such as Fodor, Frommer, Lonely Planet
  • Also includes theLet's Goseries (Harvard Student Agencies) andShoestring Guides(Lonely Planet)
  • Additionally, includes specialized guides to tourist attractions, museums, trails, etc.

19. Geographic Sources

  • Other Geographical Sources
  • Other useful print sources for geographical reference include:
  • Background Notes(U.S. Department of State)
  • Longman Dictionary of Geography(Audrey Clark)
  • The Weather Almanac

20. Geographic Sources

  • Online Resources

21. Geographic Sources Online Resources

  • Online Resources
  • The online environment has allowed for a figurative explosion of map resources on the internet
  • With the advent of new mobile technology devices, maps are everywhere you want to be

Resources in the age of theWorld Wide Web 22. Geographic Sources Online Resources

  • Google
  • Would you expect anything less than Google to be at the center of emergent geographic innovations?
  • In the age of 2.0 we call these innovations mashups
  • Google Maps and Google Earth are currently at the front of this mash-up phenomenon

23. Geographic Sources Online Resources

  • Mashups
  • Geographic Mashups are combinations of maps with other digital content
  • This screenshot is of the Darfur region in the Sudan
  • In this example, each flame symbol stands for a village in Darfur that has been destroyed
  • Clicking on the flame symbols will bring up information about that village or town

24. Geographic Sources Online Resources

  • Mashups(cont.)
  • This is the information retrieved by clicking on one of the flame symbols in the previous example
  • In this case, it tells us the location, status, and number of structures destroyed

25. Geographic Sources Online Resources

  • Mashups(cont.)
  • This mashup is between Wikipedia and Google Earth
  • Each little Wikipedia symbol is attached to a particular point of interest in New York City

26. Geographic Sources Online Resources

  • Mashups(cont.)
  • This is the kind of information found by clicking on one of the Wikipedia symbols in the previous example
  • Provided is general information, location, history, and in this case an original drawing of the Brooklyn Bridge


  • Columbia Gazetteer
  • http:// /
  • Google Earth
  • http:// /
  • Google Maps
  • http:// /maps
  • Infoplease
  • http:// /atlas/
  • Internet Public Library Maps
  • Library of Congress Map Collection
  • MapQuest
  • http:// /
  • National Atlas
  • http:// /
  • National Geographic Maps
  • http:// /
  • Rand McNally
  • http:// /
  • UN Atlas of the Oceans
  • http:// /
  • U.S. Gazetteer
  • http:// -bin/gazetteer
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • http:// /
  • U.S. Census Bureau Maps and Cartographic Resources
  • http:// /geo/www/maps/

Geographic Sources Online Resources 28. Geographic Sources Conclus