News & Blog Posts

2021 Posts


Posted: Jul 22, 2021Author: Margaret Mering

These maps show the Eastern Saline Wetlands areas of Lancaster and Saunders counties, Nebraska. Read more...


Posted: Jul 14, 2021Interviewer: Shirley Li

Our Data Provider Series highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. Read more...


Posted: Jun 30, 2021Interviewer: Wenjie Wang

Our Data Provider Series highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. Read more...


Posted: Jun 22, 2021Author: Laura McElfresh

This hand-colored view shows Brocken Mountain, the highest mountain in northern Germany, viewed from the northeast. Read more...


Posted: Apr 30, 2021Interviewers: Jay Bowen

Our Data Provider Series highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. Read more...


Posted: Apr 21, 2021Author: Melinda Kernik

A 6 x 6 foot, hand-drawn copy of Ian McHarg’s Composite Intrinsic Suitability map is currently kept at the Borchert Map Library. Excitingly, it is now available as digitized vector data as well! Read more...


Posted: Apr 7, 2021Interviewer: Milan Budhathoki

Our Data Provider Series highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. Read more...


Posted: Mar 17, 2021Author: Kathleen Weessies

This item is a geospatial dataset depicting the Border-To-Border (B2B) Trail in Washtenaw County, MI in both shapefile and geodatabase file form. Read more...


Posted: Mar 24, 2021Interviewer: Cecilia Smith

Our Data Provider Series highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. Read more...


Posted: Mar 17, 2021Author: Kathleen Weessies

The BTAA Geoportal brings together datasets from different sources. This can be helpful when you’re looking for data gathered by multiple government units. Trails are a perfect example: Read more...


Posted: Mar 10, 2021Interviewers: Caroline Kayko and Nicole Scholtz

Our Data Provider Series highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. Read more...


Posted: Mar 1, 2021Author: Laura McElfresh

This map, created by Paul M. Paine in 1927, shows literary landmarks throughout the British Isles, with magnified inset maps of London and Edinburgh. It includes places where significant events -- both real and fictional -- happened, plus birthplaces and homes of prominent authors. Some places on the map are shown as little pictures, like Sherwood Forest and the Globe Theatre. Read more here.


Posted: Feb 15, 2021Author: Cecilia Smith

This is black and white aerial imagery captured in 2003 for Cook County, Illinois at 6 inch pixel resolution. The imagery was taken with panchromatic film, which is film sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light and capable of high spatial resolution. Read more here.

2020 Posts


Posted: Dec 7, 2020Interviewers: Joshua Sadvari and Daniel Dotson

Our Data Provider Series highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. Read more...


Posted: Nov 30, 2020

Check out the latest blog post about the BTAA Geoportal on Spatial Reserves - A Guide to Public Domain Spatial Data. Read more...


Posted: Nov 17, 2020Interviewer: Jae Sung Kim

Our Data Provider Series highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. Read more...


Posted: Nov 9, 2020Author: Jaime Martindale

Wisconsin Act 20, the biennial state budget for 2013-2015, created statutory directives for state and local governments to coordinate on the development of a statewide digital parcel map. The Statewide Parcel Map Initiative is an effort to create a digital parcel map for Wisconsin by aggregating local parcel datasets utilizing geographic information systems (GIS). Read more...


Posted: Nov 2, 2020Authors: Kathleen Weessies & Karen Majewicz

Early on in the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, Johns Hopkins University took the lead in creating a portal of a myriad of frequently updated data feeds. It pulls together up to 600 datasets including medical cases, hospitalizations, deaths, recoveries, stay at home orders, essential vs. nonessential business designations, and travel and quarantine orders. Read more...


Posted: Oct 26, 2020

This is a one-day conference that brings geographic information users across disciplines from different Big Ten institutions. Read more...


Posted: Oct 19, 2020Interviewers: Melinda Kernik and Laura McElfresh

Our Data Provider Series highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. Read more...


Posted: Oct 14, 2020Authors: Jay Bowen

This month, the BTAA Geospatial Data Project is unveiling a series of tutorials to showcase the practicality of the BTAA Geoportal for teaching and learning about maps, geospatial data, and GIS techniques. These tutorials cover a wide range of activities designed to meet the needs of instructors and students in different fields and levels of competency in data retrieval, use, and analysis. Read more...


Posted: Oct 12, 2020Authors: Kathleen Weessies & Daniel Dotson

Alaskan Native Communities in 1875: Alaska formally transferred from Russia to the United States as a territory 153 years ago on October 18, 1867. Take a look back in time at this U.S. government-issued map of the Alaskan Territory made in 1875. It was made to consolidate the government’s understanding of the distribution of Alaska’s indigenous people. Read more...

BTAA GIS Conference 2020 - Call for Proposals (CFP)


Posted: Oct 2, 2020

As many conferences and events have been moved online this year, the BTAA map and GIS librarians are taking this opportunity to co-host the first ever virtual GIS Day event this fall on November 13th. The BTAA GIS Conference is intended to promote conversation and collaboration between Big Ten researchers, educators, and students who use geospatial information. It is open to all who wish to attend, including GIS professionals and students who are out of the Big Ten academic alliance.

The call for proposals is open now. The planning committee seeks submissions for presentations, lightning talks, and maps. Submissions from any discipline is encouraged, where geospatial information is used in research, planning, facility management, and outreach activities. Proposals are due by 5pm CDT on October 12th, 2020.

Please mark your calendar for November 13th (Friday) to meet the GIS communities fo the Big Ten! In addition to presentations, lightning talks, and a map gallery, there will be social networking time and engaging content such as a Mapathon.

Registration information will be available starting on October 19th. Stay tuned!

More information is available at: BTAA GIS Conference 2020


Posted: Sep 28, 2020Authors: Adonna Fleming & Margaret Mering

This data layer shows public fishing areas in Nebraska. It includes Nebraska Game and Parks Commission-owned or leased state recreation areas, wildlife management areas, as well as waters owned by the federal government, Corp of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Power and Irrigation companies, cities, and private entities. Read more...


Posted: Sep 21, 2020Interviewer: Kathleen Weessies

Our Data Provider Series highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. Read more...


Posted: Sep 14, 2020Author: Caroline Kayko

This item, titled in our catalog [Europe as a woman], is a version of the Europa Regina appearing in one of the volumes of Sebastian Münster’s Cosmographia. Münster was a 16th century German cartographer, and Cosmographia was the first German-language depiction of the world. The original Europa Regina was drawn by Johannes Putsch, a poet. This map gained popularity in the late 16th century after being included in one of the later versions of Cosmographia. Read more...


Posted: Sep 8, 2020Author: Kathleen Weessies

Mathew Carey made this map in 1814 at his publishing house in Philadelphia to add to his frequently-updated atlases. The map was made at an interesting time - just after the War of 1812 but before many American settlers had moved west. Michigan, Indiana and Illinois were legally territories at this point. Ohio had become a state 11 years prior. Land we now call Wisconsin and Minnesota were labeled Northwestern Territory. Read more...


Posted: Aug 31, 2020Author: Cecilia Smith

The University of Chicago’s GIS Data Hub is a portal to a curated set of historical Chicagoland data. The data was produced by several sources, including UChicago researchers and Library Map Collection staff. Read more...


Posted: Aug 24, 2020Author: Theresa Quill

The bulk of Indiana University’s Russian Military Topographic Map Collection is made up of the Soviet Red Army topographic maps, which were produced for defense and economic planning. This collection came to Indiana University from the duplicate map room of the Library of Congress Map Collection in the early 1990s. Read more...


Posted: Aug 17, 2020Author: Jay Bowen

With flooding a perennial problem in the low-lying riverine areas of Iowa, the National Flood Hazard Layer is a particularly useful resource. Read more...


Posted: Aug 10, 2020Author: Laura McElfresh

This dataset is part of the Wisconsin Coastal Atlas, an online collection of geospatial data covering the coastal Wisconsin counties on Lakes Superior and Michigan. Read more...


Posted: July 30, 2020Interviewer: Jaime Martindale

Our new Data Provider Series highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. Read more...


Posted: July 28, 2020Author: Karen Majewicz

Our map of participants has grown! This month, we were joined by the University of Nebraska Libraries. Read more...


Posted: July 20, 2020Author: Caroline Kayko

This item is a map of Wisconsin from 1865, showing lines of equal temperature to depict the influence that proximity to Lake Michigan can have on the local temperatures. Read more...


Posted: July 13, 2020Author: Karen Majewicz

A large portion of the public GIS data in the BTAA Geoportal is from states and counties that provide base map layers, such as roads and property locations. In recent years, there has been a greater push to develop and share these kinds of layers for the Next Generation 911 project, a national initiative to improve emergency services by creating a complete national GIS framework of road centerlines, address points, and administrative boundaries. Read more...


Posted: July 6, 2020Author: Caroline Kayko

This item is a bird’s eye view map of Ann Arbor, Michigan, from 1866. The map depicts the city from above, at a slight angle, and oriented facing north to the upper right. Read more...


Posted: June 29, 2020Author: Jennifer Liss

An Atlas of Indiana was published 50 years ago and features over one hundred maps of the state. The maps are chiefly thematic, featuring "a broad coverage of both natural conditions and human activities on a state-wide basis" (Kingsbury, page 3). The atlas covers a little of everything: annual precipitation, bedrock geology, population distribution, income, industry, agriculture, and scheduled airline flights. The atlas sources data from the latest federal census materials available in 1968-69. Read more...


Posted: June 16, 2020Author: Melinda Kernik

The data are part of a study examining access to jobs by transit in 46 of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States (based on population). The data allow for a direct comparison of transit accessibility performance between cities and are part of a longitudinal study conducted by the Accessibility Observatory. Read more...


Posted: May 27, 2020Author: Jaime Martindale

The original plat maps of the public land survey of Wisconsin are a valuable resource for original land survey information, as well as for understanding Wisconsin's landscape history. The survey of Wisconsin was conducted between 1832 and 1866 by the federal General Land Office. Read more...


Posted: May 11, 2020Author: Karen Hogenboom

This collection of historic aerial photos covers all of Illinois at various times between 1937 and 1947, and is hosted by the Illinois Geospatial Data Clearinghouse. If you haven’t encountered aerial photography before, it is exactly what it sounds like: pictures taken from an airplane. Illinois (and many other U.S. states) systematically photographed the state annually from 1937 until satellite imagery began to serve the same purpose of documenting the physical state. Read more...


Posted: May 5, 2020Author: Shirley Yue Li

This is a live dashboard to track Indiana’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, testing levels, and deaths. The county map shows the locations of cases. The dashboard is created and updated daily by the Polis Center at IUPUI. Read more...


Posted: May 4, 2020Author: Jay Bowen

As concerns over the global coronavirus pandemic have intensified, Iowans may be wondering if there is a reliable geospatial dataset that they can access to do their own monitoring of the virus in Iowa. Read more...


Posted: Mar 30, 2020Author: Cecilia Smith

By far, the maps most frequently requested at the University of Chicago library are the social scientists maps published by UChicago researchers in the 1920s and 1930s. Out of dozens of maps, however, there is a showstopper: East 63rd Street : Cottage Grove Ave. to Stony Island Ave. Read more...



Posted: Mar 2, 2020Author: Karen Majewicz

If you are looking to perform geospatial analysis on a dataset in the geoportal, using the Open in ArcGIS button will come in handy. Read more...


Posted: Feb 24, 2020Author: Bria Parker

Privacy is a hot-button issue - with all the devices that listen to us, that monitor us, how do we maintain our privacy as citizens? Should we have to sacrifice privacy for safety? How pervasive is the surveillance where you live? Read more...



Posted: Feb 17, 2020Author: Cecilia Smith

Check out this land survey map of the Mount Vernon estate drafted by George Washington in 1793! Read more...



Posted: Jan 27, 2020Author: Cecilia Smith

This is a map of railways and depots in Chicago and surrounding areas from 1897 by Rand McNally and Company. Read more...


Posted: Jan 21, 2020Author: Karen Majewicz

India was subjected to colonization by England between 1612-1947, first under private trading companies, and later the British government. A major turning point occurred in 1857, when Indian soldiers (known as Sepoys) serving the British East India Company revolted. Violent clashes broke out across northern India, and, although historians disagree on casualty numbers, at least hundreds of thousands of people were killed. This series of uprisings, known as the Indian Rebellion of 1957, prompted the British government to dissolve the Company and to assert their own direct control over India. Read more...


Posted: Jan 13, 2020Author: Caroline Kayko

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum (MBGNA) is a University of Michigan organization that promotes environmental conservation and enjoyment of nature in two locations in Ann Arbor, MI: the Nichols Arboretum, and Matthaei Botanical Gardens. The MBGNA has an open data GIS hub where they host datasets about vegetation, trails, land cover, geology, and more. These can be used by anyone from botanists to nature trail enthusiasts. Read more...


Posted: Jan 6, 2020Author: Cecilia Smith

EarthStat is a primary source of data for exploring global agricultural patterns and food production. The data from this collection has been used in many articles, maps, museum exhibits, and interactive applications.

The data was produced in collaboration between the Global Landscapes Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and the Land Use and Global Environment Lab at the University of British Columbia. Read more...