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GIS: Geographic Information System   Tags: gis, how to, spatial data  

Northwestern University Library's GIS guide.
Last Updated: Jul 24, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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What is GIS?

A Geographic Information System (GIS) "integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. (ESRI)"

What is GIS used for? There are many applications, spanning a wide variety of disciplines. Some examples include:

  • Biological Sciences: migration patterns, species diversity, fisheries management
  • Health Sciences: epidemiology, noise pollution
  • Emergency Services: wildfire spread, missing person location, least-cost paths to accident sites
  • Environmental Sciences: soil/groundwater contamination, drainage networks, erosion
  • Social Sciences: crime rates, food deserts, population dynamics

Project Samples

GIS Examples: click to enlarge, 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10


Older Arc version tip


GIS in the Library

Under the newly formed Research Information Services department, Government & Geographic Information at NU Library has provided GIS reference and instruction services since 1997. The licensed GIS software provided on all public PCs  is ArcGIS (10.2). Access to this software is available on computers in:

Evanston Campus:

  • University Library,  Main Library, Level 1: 50 workstations (hours) & Deering, Level 1: 10 public PCs (hours) ,  
  • University Library, Library PC Classroom (Main Library, Lower Level, Rm B183): 30 PCs (available when not reserved)
  • Mudd Library, Evanston Campus - all public PCs
  • Technological Institute, Tech PC Classroom (Tech MG51): 18 PCs (available when not reserved)

Chicago Campus:

Online Resources:

Via our LibGuide you can access information on how to:

At the Library:

If you are in need of hands on assistance with a GIS problem, please contact us by filling out our GIS Help Request Form.

Northwestern University does not have an ArcGIS campus-wide license. You may want to check your school/department labs to see ArcGIS is installed on their computers. Otherwise, you can always come to the University Library to use the latest ArcGIS software.


GIS Help at NU Library

If you are in need of GIS assistance with a specific project or problem, please fill out the GIS Help Request Form.


GIS Services

GIS Service Location

- GIS Assistance
- Mapping Assistance
- Poster/map printing
Contact Info:
Location & Hours
- Phone: (847) 491-2927
- Send Email
Northwestern University

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Northwestern University Library  1970 Campus Drive  Evanston, IL 60208-2300  Evanston: 847.491.7658  Fax: 847.491.8306


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