Geographic collections development policies and GIS services: a research in US academic libraries’ websites
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Management and analysis of geospatial data evolved into a rapid developmental field nowadays. Scientific researches debate that 80% of economic and political decisions internationally, include indirect or direct geographic information while this is also present in everyday life under various applications (GPS, in PDA’s, in mobile phones). The digital libraries offer various tools, including open systems that can be used in order to organize and accommodate the retrieval of a variety of geospatial data. In addition, institutional arrangements have facilitate the access to geospatial data setting the geospatial information a promising field for libraries that want to offer a variety of new services to their users. In order to investigate the GIS services and whether the libraries hold a geospatial collection,( had also established a collection development policy for it, we systematically reviewed, in March 2011, 133 websites of US academic libraries. This paper aims at tracing those libraries that use GIS services in order to make their geospatial collection, (either developed by subscriptions or by their own sources), accessible to the end user. The following elements were examined in the current research: 1) How many libraries provide GIS services? 2) How many libraries provide collection development policy for their geospatial collections to their patrons? 3) What kind of information do they offer? 4) What kind of infrastructure do they provide to the public? 5) What services do they offer? (user education, assistance, remote access, guidelines for hardware/software). We also aim to compare the results of our survey with the results of previous surveys in the field while we parallel the libraries we research in our survey to ARL, UCGIS, and FRPAA lists. The majority of the examined libraries offer GIS services, but only 14% of them currently inform their users for their collection development policy. The types of information that these collections sustain varies (gazetteers, maps, geographical data sets etc), while most of the libraries provide information about their infrastructure (workstations, printers, scanners etc). The main desktop software for 58% of the reviewed libraries that mention it is ArcGIS. As little previous research has been conducted on the topic of geospatial collection development policies and GIS services, this study is exploratory. Although the timing and the fixed duration of the study limited the size of the sample and the depth of the investigation, sufficient data were collected. This paper seeks to examine the potential role of policies in geospatial services that libraries can offer, in a rapidly changing digital environment.