Penn Libraries Mapping & GIS Club

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Penn Libraries Mapping & GIS Club

Penn Libraries Mapping & GIS Club

The Penn Libraries Mapping & GIS Club (PennMGIS) run by Research Data & Digital Scholarship (RDDS) is an open, online (for now) collective of students, staff, and faculty from across the disciplines that meets to discuss, learn, and collaborate on topics and projects related to mapping, geospatial data processing, visualization, analysis, and software tools. 

The group meets monthly on the third Thursday of the month, 3pm-5pm EST. The first hour features a tutorial, workshop, presentation, or discussion on a specific geospatial tool or topic, and the second hour is reserved for co-working, hacking, and/or collaborative project work. No prior experience with geospatial tools or methods is required.

Club Objectives

In a supportive learning environment where participants can learn new geospatial software tools, collaborate with colleagues, build community and make progress on projects, the club aims to provide participants with mapping and GIS skills that can advance their research or school projects that may require the integration and processing of data from disparate sources. It also aims to facilitate campus community building connecting GIS users across disciplines and interests.

As we try out new methods and concepts, members and participants are invited to suggest topics of interest or vote for any of the topics already listed. The topics cut across diverse set of GIS themes including ArcGIS and QGIS software tutorials, network analysis, raster based GIS, building story maps, building interactive web map applications, geocoding, handling spatial data in R and Python, downloading and processing census bureau data, extracting geospatial data from the Open Street Map, visualizing 3D-GIS data.

Previous Meetings

The first meeting of the club was in February. After a brief introduction by Nicky Agate, Assistant University Librarian for RDDS, we discussed the purpose, format, and membership requirements of PennMGIS followed by a short presentation on Geospatial tools and software. During the second meeting in March, we conducted a hands-on tutorial on various components of the popular QGIS, a free and open source GIS software. We also explored the main GIS data models and file formats. The session in April consisted of a hands-on tutorial on building interactive web map applications using various free and open source tools.

Communication Channels

The PennMGIS Slack workspace is the main channel of communication where questions can be asked and answered, resources shared, and discussions are promoted. Members who know the answers are encouraged to reply to questions.

Other modes of communications will be through the LibGuide and a Github repository where all club materials will be made available online, and email listserv for mass announcements. The goal is to support collaboration and teamwork as much as possible.

Joining the Club

To join the club and receive the link to the zoom meeting room:

About the Author

Girmaye Misgna
Girmaye Misgna
Mapping & Geospatial Data Librarian
Girmaye provides research consultation and training services to faculty, staff, and students who are engaging with spatial methods, bringing deep technical expertise in both GIS and Mapping application development to that work. He enjoys the daily interaction with the campus community across all disciplines and the everyday new learning experience associated with it.

Girmaye supports faculty and students who are engaging with spatial methods, bringing deep technical expertise in both GIS and application development to that work.

Before coming to Penn Libraries, Girmaye was a Researcher and GIS Lab Manager in the Environmental Resources and Policy Program at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He has master's degrees in Geography from SIU Carbondale and in Applied Geology from Addis Ababa University.