Geospatial workshops in Crerar’s GIS Hub

GIS & Maps Librarian Cecilia Smith is now hosting customized geospatial workshops for research groups in the GIS Hub in the John Crerar Library. Since the Hub opened last winter, Smith has offered a wide range of workshops for students and faculty from across the disciplines.

Student working on a map displayed on a computer monitor
Student attending a workshop in the GIS Hub

Undergraduate research assistants for the Contemporary Migrations project, led by Professor Josephine McDonagh of English Language and Literature and PhD student Bellamy Mitchell, came to the Hub with the goal of mapping migration stories found in works of poetry. Smith provided a three-sequence workshop series introducing the RAs, Reema Saleh and Calvin Wang, to working with spatial data, creating tabular data from literary works, and authoring interactive web maps.

Another project, led by Robert Vargas, Assistant Professor of Sociology, investigates the social ramifications of changing ward and congressional boundaries in U.S. cities. Smith provided training for the research team on making historical maps machine readable. The student researchers learned to add coordinate data to scanned maps and produced vector layers for later spatial analysis.

The GIS Hub also serves as a testing ground for new workflows. Art History Instructor Luke Joyner brought students for a workshop that instructed them on how to convert topographic data into designs that can be carved with the computer-controlled cutting machine in the nearby Hack Arts Lab (HAL) in the Media Arts, Data, and Design Center (MADD). Joyner and Smith collaborated to further streamline the digital preparation of landscapes in open source software. Smith later taught the process during a conference workshop for the Great Lakes Science Boot Camp.

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to use the workstations in the GIS Hub for research, course work, and geospatial instruction. Open source GIS software and ArcGIS are available on the workstations. The lab is open to walk-ins from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, except for Fridays and Saturdays when the lab is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. For questions, consultations, collaborative research reservations, or to arrange for class or workshop instruction, contact Cecilia Smith,