University of Pittsburgh's Homepage

Geographic Information Service Resources

What do we do? The library receives a number of data sets on deposit through the Federal Depository Library Program and purchases data that meet the research needs of the University. We will help you to utilize the data and locate needed data resources. 

If you can't find what you need or have additional questions, contact the Geographic Information Service by calling or e-mailing:

Tom Twiss


Mark C. Scott

Hardware and Software

One workstation (with ZIP, USB, CDRW, and DVD drives).

Color HP DesignJet printer. Printing is restricted to users who are working with GIS. 

ArcGIS is available for viewing data and working on projects.

For additional GIS hardware and software resources at the University try the VISC  Visual Information Systems Center

CSSD computing labs have ArcGIS sofware available and ArcGIS can be purchased by students through Software Licensingfor a small fee.


Data in the Library
  = Key resources

  ArcGIS StreetMap USA

Included with StreetMap are over 31 million road segments across the United States as well as many other landmark features needed to produce quality maps. The data include streets, highways, airports, hospitals, parks, rivers, lakes, counties, and states, all with ready-made legends. (Pitt only)

Digital Map Database of China

In addition to vector-format graphical data DMDC contains relevant attribute data, images, text, and a software tool for data display, query and selection. Contains data for administrative areas, populated places, railroads, roads, cultural features, hydrography, hypsography, vegetation, land cover, bathymetry and geographic grid. (Pitt only)

  ESRI Data & Maps

Provides basic spatial data such as internal political boundaries, population, railroads, rivers, water bodies, and more.  (Pitt only)


  Global GIS: Global Coverage DVD

Extensive coverage is provided of all of the continents on the planet except for Antarctica. The set makes a complete atlas of global data compiled from USGS and other data sources at a nominal scale of 1:1,000,000 and is intended as a regional-scale reference and analytical tool.


ESRI Shape files from City of Pittsburgh Planning Department.

List of coverages available in the library (Pitt only):

Addresses Parcels
Block Index Railroad Lines
Building Footprints Right Of Way
Cemeteries Rivers
Census 1990 River Trails
Census 2000 Steps
City Boundary Street Network (Single Line)
City Council Districts Streets (Double Line)
Floodways Topography
Greenways Voting Districts
Landslide Prone Areas Wards
Map Index Water
Neighborhoods Zip Codes
Parks Zoning Districts

Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC)

Data for the following nine counties in SW Pennsylvania: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Fayette, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland. Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access has a detailed description of the SPC data.  (Pitt only)

  TIGER/Line Files

Available in the GIS room but you can also download these from the Census Bureau or the Geography Network. The TIGER/Line files are a digital database of geographic features, such as roads, railroads, rivers, lakes, political boundaries, census statistical boundaries, etc. covering the entire United States. The data base contains information about these features such as their location in latitude and longitude, the name, the type of feature, address ranges for most streets, the geographic relationship to other features, and other related information. They are the public product created from the Census Bureau's TIGER (Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing) data base of geographic information. 


The library has USGS datasets that were distrubuted to depository libraries. List of USGS's Digital Data Series CD-ROMs. Search for the title you need in PITTCat+ or ask for assistance.


Data on the Web

Listed below are frequently asked for data:

Allegheny County GIS

this site has a GIS Data Viewer and a list of coverages available from the county.


IBGE is Brazil's government agency for geographic information and statistics. You can download GIS data of Brazil.

Census Bureau Geography

Links to a variety of Census Bureau geographic information sources including boundary files (TIGER) and glossaries.


China Dimensions Data Collection

Highlights include digital administrative boundaries; fundamental GIS layers; county-level data on population, agriculture, economics and hospitals.


Query and order satellite images, aerial photographs, and cartographic products through the U.S. Geological Survey.


data warehouse from the EPA. Has a "Maps On Demand" feature to produce maps of environmental information. 

EPA's Geospatial Data Clearinghouse

Environmentally-related data, as well as base map data, much of it in ArcInfo Export (.e00) format. 


This is a collection of environmental data from the World Resources Institute. Includes data on climate, population, agriculture, energy, economics, biodiversity, etc.

FGDC Clearinghouse Referral Server

Enables public search for digital spatial data at registered NSDI Clearinghouse Nodes. 

GeoData.Gov U.S. Maps & Data

One stop access for geospatial data from the U.S. federal government.

Geography Network from ESRI.

Links to and queries GIS data sets that are available from a number of sources. Many are free.

GIS WWW Resource List

from the University of Edinburgh (very comprehensive!) 

Mexico:  Georeferenced Population Data Sets of Mexico

GIS of Mexican states, municipalities, and islands, 1990, in Arc/Info export format. In this dataset, the boundaries of the Mexican states and municipalites that share borders with the United States are consistent with those from TIGER95. Attributes include selected
demographic and socioeconomic variables from INEGI (Mexicos's government agency for national statistics and geographic information). 


Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment Project

Contains data in ARC/INFO export (.e00) format, such as watersheds, forests, roads, DEMs and others, for the Mid-Atlantic Region (includes PA). 


National Atlas of the United States

Intended to provide a comprehensive, map-like view into the enormous wealth of data collected by the Federal Government. You can download layers of data to use with GIS software from the National Atlas Map Layers Data Warehouse

National Map of the United States

The Nation's topographic map for the 21st century. Displays detailed elevation and terrain data. Can download files and use with GIS.

National Wetlands Inventory

Odden's Bookmarks

An extensive set of web page links to maps and mapping.


Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access (PASDA)

Pennsylvania's official geospatial information clearinghouse for retrieval of GIS data and imagery data for the Commonwealth. This site is hosted by Penn State. List of files that can be downloaded.   Includes access to DRG's (tiff images of topographic maps) and DOQ's/DOQQ's (aerial photographs) for Pennsylvania.

Starting the Hunt

Guide to Mostly On-Line and Mostly Free U.S. Geospatial and Attribute Data.

Statewide GIS Clearinghouses list maintined by MIT.

TerraServer from Microsoft.

TerraServer is a huge repository of aerial photographs, topographic maps and satellite images. 

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

Global Resource Information Database (GRID) GIS data clearinghouse.

USGS Data 

USGS data sets can be downloaded for free from a number of sources. Try the USGS Geographic Data Download (US GeoData) or for more detailed USGS data descriptions and download information go to the USGS Geospatial Data Clearinghouse


Look-up Tools, Conversion Utilities, Mapping, and Tutorials

Look-up Tools

Looking up places:  Gazetteers give you information such as latitude and longitude, elevation...) 

Gazetteer of the United States (Census Bureau)

Geographic Names Information System (USGS)

A comprehensive online gazetteer providing location and other information for nearly 2 million cultural and physical features of the U.S. Great for finding quadrangle names for USGS topographic maps.

GeoNet Names Server (Department of Defense)

GNS provides access to the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) database of foreign geographic feature names.

Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

From the Getty Information Institute. Includes international place names.

GIS Dictionary

An online dictionary of GIS terms from the Association for Geographic Information and the University Of Edinburgh Department of Geography. 

GIS Dictionary from ESRI.

How far is it?

This will give you "as the crow flies" distances between places. 

Conversion Utilities

Degrees, Minutes, Seconds/Decimal Degrees Conversion Utilities


Atlas of Cyberspaces

Google Maps

Historic Pittsburgh Map Collections

Library of Congress

American Memory Project: Map Collections 1500 - 1999. 

Maps in American FactFinder

Maps On Us  Make a map, find the fastest route.


National Atlas of Canada

National Atlas of the United States

National Geographic Society

Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection

Electronic reference sources, as well as a large collection of electronic maps. Includes CIA maps. 



ArcGIS Tutorial from the University of Arkansas Libraries.

ESRI Virtual Campus

Registration is required to access the tutorials on this web-site. Many of the basic modules on this site are free and other modules charge a fee. Since the university has a site license to ESRI products, you can contact University of Pittsburgh Site Licensing at CSSD (412-624-HELP) to acquire access to the fee modules.

GIS Analysis with ARC/Info

Introduction to Map Design (PDF)

NCGIA Core Curriculum in GIScience

An online tutorial for GIS beginners. 



Older Data Sets


Africa Data Sampler/Africa Data Online (1992-1994)

Data from the World Resources Institute. Detailed coverages of African countries. Inlcudes political boundares and natural resource data.

ArcAtlas Our Earth

Includes a wide range of data are from weather and precipitation to land use and social infrastructure. 

Digital Chart of the World (1991/1992)

1:1,000,000 scale vector based map of the world. Contains geographic, attribute, and textual data. Primary source for data is the ONC (Operational Navigational Chart) from DMA (Defense Mapping Agency). The library has the ESRI version and the NIMA version (which is called Vector Map Level 0) on cd-rom. You can also download this for free from Penn State's Map Library.


How Do I Find More Data?


The resources listed above are major resources held by Hillman Library or frequently used resources. We receive many other sets of data on CD-ROM that can be used with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. 

You can use PITTCat+ to find what's available. Remember, titles of resources we own are in PITTCat+, however, if you are looking for an individual coverage (for example parks in Pittsburgh) you will be unable to find that information by using PITTCat+. Even though the information is included on CD-ROMs that the library owns, PITTCat does not give you the capability of searching for the data on the CDs. 

If you can't find what you need, you will need to contact the GIS Librarian for help in locating geographic data. Visit the Hillman GIS Room (G-7) or make an appointment for GIS help. 

You can also try checking the Geography Subject Guide or the websites listed below.

For Help Contact

Mark C. Scott


Tom Twiss