Geospatial Information Services

Access information, data, and guides for geospatial information

Temporary Limited Services
Due to limited staff availability in Summer 2021, one-on-one consultations for geospatial requests are not available. For general reference and research inquiries, please visit the Ask a librarian form.

Most of the maps that are produced today and over the course of the past two decades consist of computer-based geographic information. The Leventhal Map & Education Center offers geospatial information services to help you create, find, manipulate and preserve information stored in digital formats compatible with mapping software and GIS (Geographic Information Systems).

Cartinal: The LMEC Documentation Database

We maintain a portal called Cartinal with numerous guides, tutorial, and documentation sources for geospatial data and projects. Cartinal includes both step-by-step guides that are suitable for beginners who have never worked with GIS before, as well as more technical documentation for data services and resources provided by LMEC.

Visit Cartinal

Some examples of resources you can find in Cartinal:

LMEC Data Portal

The LMEC makes geospatial datasets available via the LMEC Data Portal.

What kinds of data can I find in the LMEC portal?

To learn more about the data portal project, you can read about it here.

To access documentation for the LMEC metadata schema for describing GIS data, you can visit the schema documentation made available on Cartinal.

What kinds of questions can I ask?

Our geospatial information library staff can help you with:

  • Personalized, one-on-one research consultations about your GIS data or mapping project
  • Someone to talk with about where to find online data and software resources
  • Tips for structuring your own data or reformatting existing data for new purposes
  • Access to important or useful datasets, especially those related to Boston and Massachusetts
  • Guides and tutorials on how to find and work with GIS data
  • Documentation about LMEC’s geospatial humanities projects
  • A friendly resource for best practices on managing geographic information in historic archives

GIS Data Formats

We can help you create, find, manipulate and preserve geospatial data formatted as:

  • Points, lines or polygons
  • Images of maps transformed to real-life geographies
  • Spreadsheets or tabular data with records containing locations

GIS Mapping Software

We can point you to learning resources for GIS mapping software such as:

  • QGIS free desktop software
  • ArcGIS commercial desktop suite
  • Cloud mapping platforms like ArcGIS Online
  • Custom web map development environments like Leaflet

Geospatial Project Examples

Still not sure if you’re in the right place? Here are some example projects we can help with:

Making Use of Online Resources

  • You find an online resource difficult to navigate and want to chat with a person

Getting the Data

  • You want direct access to data that speaks to geographic trends. Example topics:
    • public health
    • climate
    • demographic
    • economic
    • education
    • transportation
    • cartographic (borders, prominent features, labels)

Making a Map

  • You’d like to make a map displaying your team’s geographic reach or impact
  • You are gathering your own data and would like advice on structuring the spatial attributes

Picking Software

  • You want to know the best way to get started learning a free mapping software like QGIS

Piecing Together the Past

  • You are interested in combining different historical sources to investigate the history of a place
  • You want to georeference a map or use one of our georeferenced maps

Managing Collections

  • You are working with historic cartographic materials and want to chat about best practices
  • You have an important Boston dataset you think should be preserved or discoverable

Teaching with GIS

  • You teach with GIS data and would like to collaborate about resources

Following Up

  • You attended one of our mapmaking workshops and have followup questions
  • You have used our tool Atlascope and want to use some of the historic data layers