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by Kalamalama staff

Few Americans realize how much geography matters, according to Donna Urschel at the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

“ Linking maps to information digitally allows scientists and analysts to extract patterns and trends,” said Urschel: “In defense, climate change, land management, business, politics, and more. In short,” she concluded, “geographic information systems (GIS) help manage the world.”

Urschel explained that at the Library of Congress, GIS is used to examine the past, to learn more about the present, and analyze any phenomenon that can be spatially imagined.

“ The Geography and Map Division use GIS and other geographic-and-statistical-modeling software in projects as varied as tracking the Lincoln-Douglas Debates to studying the origin of medieval sailing charts,” Urschel said. “The Congressional Cartography Program uses GIS to provide Congress with geospatial information regarding legislative and policy issues,” she added.

The Congressional Cartography Program was established in 2002 at the Library of Congress to respond to congressional inquiries and requests for geospatial information regarding legislative issues. CCP serves Congress directly and through the Congressional Research Service and the G&M Reading Room.

As part of its celebration of Geography Awareness Week, the Library will celebrate GIS Day on Nov. 19 with demonstrations of how GIS mapping technology applications can be use to resolve conflicts in historic maps and charts.

Other Library’s GIS exhibitions include:
Maps relating to important events in President Lincoln’s life.
Demonstrations of a digital process that rectifies historic maps and georeference them to contemporary state maps.
Demonstrations of software tools available for data analysis as applied to population, disease, and geospatial statistics.
The Library of Congress has the largest and most comprehensive collection of maps and atlases in the world, some 4.8 million cartographic items that date from the 14th century to the present time. The Library’s map collections contains coverage for every country and subject, and include the works of all the famous mapmakers throughout history—Ptolemy, Waldseemüller, Mercator, Ortelius, and Blaeu.

For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/.


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