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GIS (Geographic Information Systems): Intro to ArcGIS

An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, with ArcGIS Tutorials and Resources


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provide powerful software tools for the manipulation and analysis of spatial data, making maps into dynamic objects.  While services like Google Earth (requires software download) and Google Maps are bringing GIS capabilities to the masses,  having complete control of the software and data helps researchers precisely study their subjects and produce the exact outputs and displays needed.

ArcGIS, one of the leading GIS software packages, is available in most general Rutgers computing labs.  The university software portal has further information on the ArcGIS site license for individual or departmental installations.   Additional information on GIS is available through the Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis at Rutgers. 


This guide was created by Maeve Pinto, and is maintained by Ryan Womack

ArcGIS Tutorials

These links will help you get started with ArcGIS.   The Libraries do not offer instruction in GIS, but courses are available through the Office of Continuing Education of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (for a fee).

Official Arc Tutorial Guides
The most thorough collection of ArcGIS guides on the web.  ESRI provides both video and traditional tutorial guides.  The topics range in complexity, from tutorials designed for beginners like "Getting Started" and "The Quickstart Tutorial" to more advanced subjects like "Geoprocessing" and "Interoperability".

GIS Dictionary
Translates all the acronyms and terminology used in the ArcGIS system.  It is good to keep open to learn the terminology.

USGS Introduction to GIS
An introduction to GIS in general as well as a history of Geographic Information Systems and the theory behind them, prepared by the US Geological Survey .

University of Arkansas Libraries ArcGIS Tutorial List
This tutorial is broken down into six Sections, starting here [PDF].  It was designed for the library user in mind in order to "quickstart" without having to go through the many ESRI exercises.  The tutorial was created by Stephan Pollard, M.A. Geography (University of Arkansas, 1997) and Ph.D.. Environmental Dynamics (University of Arkansas, 2006) and Sohayla Hamon, M.A. Geography (University of Arkansas, 2002).

University of California at San Diego Libguide
Includes many useful tutorials and other resources.

Harvard University's GIS Tutorial and Introductory Exercises
This tutorial is user friendly and combines learning the terminology with four Exercises to learn ArcGIS in a "hands-on" way.  Developed by Robert A. Rose, GIS Instructor for Harvard University.

Tufts ArcGIS Tips and Tutorials
Many quick guides to basic and more advanced functions.

Introduction to GIS
This tutorial is designed by Kardi Teknomo for the person who knows nothing about GIS.  It begins with a general introduction to Geographic Information Systems before introducing the ArcGIS system.  Because this is a personal page, it is a bit cluttered with Google advertisements.

The Special Library Associations PowerPoint on GIS and Libraries
This page is designed by the Special Library Association's Map Division with the intent of showing how libraries and librarians can use GIS.

Drew University GIS Resources

Chemistry & Physics Librarian / Science Data Specialist

Laura Palumbo's picture
Laura Palumbo
Library of Science and Medicine
Piscataway, NJ 08854

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