QGIS in an Academic Library: A Case Study

Session Type: 
Tech Session
Frank Donnelly, Baruch College CUNY

This presentation will demonstrate how FOSS4G has been integrated into courses and research on a college campus via the library, will discuss methods for teaching FOSS4G, and will hi-light the strengths and challenges of using QGIS over proprietary alternatives in higher education. The library began offering instruction and support for QGIS in the Fall of 2009. Because the college is a commuter campus without strong support for GIS in the curriculum, offering QGIS through the library’s GIS program has filled an important niche for students and faculty who are new to GIS, are on a limited budget, and can't be tied down to a campus lab. I’ll discuss a paper I wrote on evaluating open source software for thematic mapping that led to an undergraduate level geographic information course in the library’s Information Studies minor. I’ll also share the results of a series of introductory, day-long, hands-on workshops in QGIS for graduate students and faculty that were held in Spring 2011. Participants from a variety of disciplines attended these workshops, primarily to learn GIS so they could apply it to their research. Novice GIS users appreciated the analytical power and perspective that GIS software provides while advanced GIS users who had never used FOSS4G were impressed with the software’s capabilities.

Baruch College is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system of public colleges. Located in midtown Manhattan, Baruch has 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in business, arts and sciences, and public affairs. While there is interest in GIS in several departments on campus, the college doesn’t have the traditional departments, like geography and earth sciences, that typically provide GIS courses and services. GIS services are offered by a dedicated geospatial data librarian through the college’s library.

Speaker Bio: 

Frank Donnelly is the Geospatial Data Librarian at Baruch College, CUNY. He supports the use of GIS, mapping, and demographic / census data on his campus. He has an MA in Geography (University of Toronto) and an MLIS (University of Washington).

Schedule info