Esri Software (ArcGIS)

First stop: the Esri software FAQ.

Having read that, a link for those seeking some flavor of ArcGIS 10.

Software, Generally

Purdue licenses other software, as well. Search this site for, say, ENVI or Erdas Imagine, for example. What you won’t find for download here are softwares/projects that are otherwise available outside of Purdue, as in:

And there are more! FreeGIS, OSGeo are good places to start, or see the LibGuide.

Libraries GIS makes spatial data available in two basic ways: the first is through MADA@P (Maps and Data Access at Purdue), a search/preview web application that houses a number of spatial datasets from various sources. Among them:

  • data-producing projects at Purdue on which we collaborate, either officially or unofficially
  • data-producing projects at Purdue whose outputs we happen to be able to access
  • datasets that accompany library materials
  • datasets that accompany GIS software, such as those on the Esri Data & Maps series
  • data we stumble upon while crawling the domain

More information about MADA@P (including instructions for use) is available at the app’s about page. Another popular source for data “hosted” by The Libraries are the data discs that accompany Esri software purchases. When possible, these data are pulled from the DVDs on which they arrive and are made available through MADA@P (see above). Many of the datasets are license-restricted, however, and are therefore only available on the DVDs through secure, Purdue Career Account authentication (and only for faculty and staff at that!) from our Disc.Iso server. As of summer, 2011, the most recent arrival is the version 10 Data & Maps disc, seen here.

Failing those, another good place to get started with data is the the LibGuide, a searchable, categorized directory of the most common spatial datasets available on the internet computer network (just kidding – “the internet”).


You might be seeking the Virtual Campus courses (self-paced tutorials, for the most part). If so, instructions are here.

We also keep an informal (and therefore likely outdated!) list of GIS/geo* courses at Purdue here.


use our “geohelp” purdue address (so geohelp@purd…)

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About GIS

GIS (Geographic Information Systems) represent a suite of tools and processes (software, hardware, and their applications) that take in geospatial data and put out visualizations, analyses, or otherwise processed versions of those data. Makes no sense? Imagine taking an old map of Indiana, laying over it a new map of Indiana, and laying over that the most recent satellite or aerial photography of the state. Then for good measure some elevation data originally captured by NASA’s Space Shuttle program goes below it all. That’s how you start working with GIS. What happens next could almost literally run the gamut of academic work as we know it, from soil chemistry studies to historic reenactments to consumer behavior in retail spaces to suitability studies to traffic analysis to, no kidding, hula dancing.

See the projects link for examples of some of the things we do with GIS in The Libraries, contact us, or visit this Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC) page, this USGS page, or for addition information.

About Geoinformatics, Generally

Geoinformatics, depending on your context and geographic region, is a rapidly-evolving science of information science as applied to the data and applications developed for or produced by the geoscience community (broadly defined).

“Information science” here tends to refer to the computer science end of the spectrum, but as the technologies develop, more and more domain scientists and librarians are pitching in to develop applications and education curricula designed to better integration data and information with people and their subjects of study.

pull from: Allison, M. L., Snyder, W. S., and Walker, J. D. (2002). Geoinformatics: A nascent revolution in the earth sciences. GSA Today, 12(7):17-17.

About Geoinformatics, Libraries GIS

Because of the complexity of most geoinformatics research, what we contribute is largely in the context of sponsored research programs, where the librarian is a funded member of some research team and labors to enable, bolster, or improve the ways geodata get consumed, processed, or delivered. See the “Projects” link for examples. At the same time, however, in order for cyberinfrastructure to really improve the state of the scientific workflow (from start to finish), future scientists must be on board with the tenets of geoinformatics and the developing semantic interdisciplinarianism. To that end, Purdue Librarians have developed a Geoinformatics course designed as a discipline-agnostic overview of this developing field.

pull from: National Science Foundation (U.S.), & Cyberinfrastructure Council (National Science Foundation), 2007, Cyberinfrastructure vision for 21st century discovery: Arlington, VA, National Science Foundation Cyberinfrastructure Council.