Digital Libraries as a Foundation of Spatial Data Infrastructures

Digital Libraries as a Foundation of Spatial Data Infrastructures

Rubén Béjar, J. Nogueras-Iso, Miguel Ángel Latre, Pedro Rafael Muro-Medrano, F. J. Zarazaga-Soria
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-879-6.ch039
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This chapter introduces Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) and establishes their strong conceptual and technical relationships with geographic digital libraries (geolibraries). The authors describe the origin of SDIs and highlight their role as geographic resources providers. Then, they give several examples of the use of techniques and tools taken from the digital libraries world in the development of SDIs. The purpose of this chapter is establishing a solid foundation for those aspects of SDIs that can make profit from the knowledge and tools provided by the digital library community. It will also point the key differences between SDIs and geolibraries in order to provide a broader view of these infrastructures.
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The concept of National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) was first defined, for the United States, by the Mapping Science Committee of the National Research Council (1993). In April 1994, Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order (nr. 12906, April 11, 1994) for the establishment of the NSDI, forcing the cooperation among federal and local agencies in collecting, spreading, and using geographic information.

In 1996, the GSDI was created to promote global access to geographic information. Also in 1996, the Australian and New Zealand Information Council (ANZLIC) (, an initiative to create a European directive to guide national and regional SDI development. The directive entered into force on May 15th, 2007 (European Parliament and The European Council, 2007).

Nowadays, the GSDI Web site lists several dozens of SDI initiatives, local, regional, and national. Generally speaking, most of these initiatives have common views and objectives for SDI, as first defined by the USA NSDI, though of course they are adapted to the different realities (economical, political) of the geographic areas for what they have been established.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Georeference: Information that relates data to a position on the Earth’s surface, typically by means of coordinates.

Gazetteer: A geographical dictionary that associates georeferences to place names.

GIS: A system for capturing, storing, analyzing, managing, and viewing data spatially referenced to the Earth.

Spatial Data Infrastructure: The relevant base collection of technologies, policies, and institutional arrangements that facilitate the availability of and access to spatial data.

Spatial Data: Data related to positions on the Earth’s surface.

Geolibrary: A library containing georeferenced objects and with a search mechanism based on geographic location as the primary search key.

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