Guides and tutorials for finding, accessing, and using geospatial data and scanned maps from the BTAA Geoportal

How to Use the Big Ten Academic Alliance Geoportal

Text Searching from the Homepage

There are three search options on right side of the homepage: a keyword search box, a category browse, and filters for place name and subject.

Map Searches from the Homepage

The homepage features a world map for geographic searches.

Option 1: The user can pan the map with the mouse and zoom with the controls at the upper left. When the desired area is in view, the user can click the blue “Search here” button at the lower left. Only records that fall within the geographic extents visible on the map will be displayed.

Zoom, pan, or define a region on the map, then click "Search here"

Option 2: Blue marker icons indicate the center point of a resource. Cluster icons show multiple points and need to be zoomed in on to find single icons.

Select a single icon and click the link in the popup to open a specific item.

Select a single marker icon to open a specific item.

Refining the Search Results

Once an action has taken place on the homepage, the user will be taken to a search results page. The text search box will still be present at the top, but additional options for filtering will be available. This is accomplished by selected terms under the facets on the left of the screen.

Place: a text filter for place names that were assigned to the resource by a cataloguer

Genre: allows a user to filter by only Geospatial data, Maps, or Aerial imagery

Year: a widget that a user can limit years by typing in a start and/or end date

Subject: a controlled list of ISO topic categories and Library of Congress cartographic subject headings

Time Period: an aggregated grouping of dates by century, half century, decade, or half-decade

Publisher: the organization that made the resource available by sponsoring it, hosting it, or acting as the data steward

Creator: a person or organization that directly developed the resource. For maps, in may include the surveyor, cartographer, and lithographer. For GIS data, it can be personal names or specific agencies.

Institution: An academic institution that contributed the metadata record to the geoportal

Type: a controlled list of Dublin Core terms

Understanding the Item Page

When a record is selected, the user is taken to its item page. This page displays links and information about the resource.

Data Preview

For some records, the top of the page is a map inset. If the data includes a geospatial web service, the user will be able to click on entities within the service to see attribute information about it. If a digitized map is available via an IIIF server, this inset will be a zoomable image.


Links panel

  • Visit Source: This is an external link back to the original item page for the resource
  • Web services: displays the web service address that can be copied into a desktop or online map application
  • Metadata: displays supplemental metadata
  • Open in ArcGIS: opens the item in ArcGIS Online

Downloads panel

  • direct download of an item

Related Items

At the bottom of the item page, there may be links to related records from the same source or a link to a parent collection record that describes the source.

Understanding Geospatial Metadata

This brief video tutorial defines what geospatial metadata is and how Geoportal users can locate and interact with it.

Descriptive details—called metadata—help Geoportal users understand the content found within search results and make informed decisions about the resources that are most appropriate for their use.