Skip to Main Content

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Geographic Information Systems are one of the most powerful visualization tools. This guide covers access to these software, how to learn about GIS, and geospatial data sources.

Getting Started

This guide is your quick-start manual for geographic information systems (GIS). It will provide you with an introduction to GIS software and tools as well as recommendations for additional resources you may find useful. 

What is GIS?

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are the software and hardware used to visualize, analyze, create, and store geospatial data. Using datasets that include location data (spatial data) users can layer datasets to solve problems, measure change, share information, and many more applications using the power of maps. 

GIS can also refer to Geographic Information Science , the field of study surrounding the use, research, and theory of GIS technology. 


Log into ArcGIS Online with your MyBama credentials

GIS at the Library

We aim to help people find, use, and understand geospatial technology across disciplines.  

Research Consultations - Make an appointment for one-on-one help with: 

  • Locating geospatial and research data, or other digital library resources.  

  • Exploring GIS desktop and web-based software applications. 

  • Establishing geospatial research methods, workflows, and documentation. 

Workshops and Classes – Attend or request guided instruction for your course or organization including: 

  • Course Embedded Instruction  

  • Single Session Workshops or Demonstrations  

  • Multi-Session Workshop Series  

Example topics include Introduction to Geospatial Data, GIS Software, R Spatial Analysis, Automated Geoprocessing with ArcPy Python Scripts, Data Documentation and Geospatial Data Management Plans, ArcGIS Online Story Maps, and ArcGIS Pro Tool Boxes 

Click here to see upcoming workshops offered by Research Data Services

Software Access and Support  

Current geospatial Software Support in RDS:  

ArcGIS Pro Esri's GIS Desktop application for all your geospatial analysis and processing needs.
ArcGIS Online Esri’s cloud-based software that can be used on “any divice with an internet connection”.
R & RStudio Free and open-source statistical computing software with data visualization and spatial libraries.
GeoDa Free and open-source desktop spatial statistics software.
QGIS Free and open-source desktop application that is similar to ArcGIS.
ArcPy Esri's Python library designed for automating geoprocessing workflows.
Carto Create powerful online visualizations and dynamic maps.
MapBox Design base maps and display geospatial data online with JavaScript.
Leaflet JS Free and open-source JavaScript library for mobile web mapping.

Don't see the software you are looking for here? Let us know!  

How can we help?

Prefer a different contact method?

Try one of these options instead: