Geographic Information and Library Education

Geographic Information and Library Education

John Abresch (University of South Florida Libraries, USA), Ardis Hanson (University of South Florida Libraries, USA) and Peter J. Rheeling (University of South Florida Libraries, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-726-3.ch009
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“I invite all of you to become geographers, if not by vocation then by avocation. GIS is about thinking geographically. Beyond being an essential component of GIS, geography also opens new avenues of examining and analyzing the world around us. More importantly, it provides us with totally new appreciation of everyday life and the environment in which we live it” (DeMers, 1997, p. 199). This quote sets the tenor for this chapter, in which we examine the educational requirements for librarians in the provision of GIS services. Implementing GIS services in academic libraries and facilitating associated digital geospatial data collections can be a daunting task for the librarian assigned these duties. The technical knowledge and computer skill-sets alone involved in understanding how GIS software operates are accompanied with a high learning curve. The research literature emphasizes collaboration with academic departments with the expertise in using GIS software. This chapter will cover the types of services that GIS users need for a prototypical GIS literacy project and basic geographic literacy for librarians. It will examine competencies in academic librarianship and geographic information literacy and offer a sample curriculum that meets the needs of geolibraries, librarians, and their patrons. A brief discussion of preservice and in-service issues, such as mentoring and communities of practice, follows. The conclusion discusses implications for library science in the preparation of new librarians and the professional development of practicing librarians.

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