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Research Guides

The Suzzallo Library GIS Lab is open Autumn Quarter 2023.

GIS-related questions can be emailed to

Schedule a Zoom appointment with Libraries GIS staff.


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Lab

The GIS Lab is provided by the University Libraries to support the use of GIS for coursework and research by UW students, faculty, and staff. Groups are welcome to work together on GIS assignments in this space. GIS Lab staff are available to assist lab users with locating geospatial data, integrating data into GIS projects, and basic ArcGIS functionality. Lab staff cannot provide extended assistance with the completion of course assignments. Lab users are strongly encouraged to consult with their faculty and/or TAs for assistance with, or clarification of, course assignments.


Lab staff do not make maps for students, staff, faculty, or the general public.


If you do not have knowledge of the ArcGIS software suite please investigate the available books, tutorials, and courses.

Two important things you must know about the GIS Lab:

  1. You must be a student, faculty, or staff member of the University of Washington to use the GIS Lab. UWNetID login is required to access software applications on the computers.


GIS Lab Location

The GIS Lab is located west of the Government Publications Reference Desk on the ground floor of the Suzzallo Library adjacent to the Government Publications Stacks.

Map showing the location of the GIS lab on ground floor of Suzzallo library


Printing is available from library workstations for a small fee at several central locations. Please click here for more information on printing from library workstations.

Hardware and Software

The lab has 21 HP workstations with 24 inch monitors. Software available includes:

  • ESRI ArcGIS Pro 3.1
  • ESRI ArcGIS Desktop Suite (v10.4)
  • QGIS 3.30
  • Microsoft Office 2010
  • 7 - Zip File Manager (Zipping Software)
  • Various utilities to facilitate GIS data downloading and manipulation

Where can I learn to use ESRI's ArcGIS software?

Several resources are available, a few of which are restricted to UW students, faculty, and staff.

  1. ESRI Tutorial Videos on YouTube.
  2. ESRI e-Learning Students, staff, and faculty at the UW may sign up for online, self-paced, no-cost training workshops provided by ESRI.
  3. Getting to know ArcGIS Desktop, 5th edition.
  4. Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro
  5. Mapping Our World: GIS Lessons for Educators, ArcGIS Edition. This book from ESRI Press is designed specifically for teachers to use in their classrooms, but may also be useful for others seeking to learn GIS software. The book is available online but when purchased is accompanied by an exercise data CD as well as a demonstration edition of the ArcGIS software with a one-year license. 
  6. ESRI Community Forums, a place to explore problems and solutions from a worldwide community of ArcGIS users.
  7. An instructional video for using ArcGIS StoryMaps produced by Ashlee (GIS Lab Graduate Student Assistant) is available here.

Where can I learn to use other GIS software?

These resources are useful for members of the UW community and for those without a UW NetID or access to ESRI's GIS products.

  1. QGIS Training Material, provided by the developers of QGIS, an open-source GIS software product.
  2. Intro to GIS with QGIS, an 8-10 hour free, self-paced introductory course in GIS terminology, applications, and software use. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone who is new to GIS and looking to learn the basics outside of formal GIS courses. Created by Brown University Libraries.
  3. Additional Mapping Tools and Software. Mostly online platforms and software that provide an alternative to ESRI's products. Each product has its own unique advantages and skills required to use it. For assistance with these products, visit the GIS lab during assistance hours, contact the GIS lab team, or explore online tutorials related to each product.

Hours and Staffing

The GIS Lab is open for use during all Suzzallo Library open hours with assistance available during the hours listed below. If the GIS Lab door is locked during these hours, please see library staff at the Suzzallo Ground Floor (GMM) Help Desk for assistance opening the lab. In-person assistance with GIS questions is available Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters in the lab during the hours listed in the table below.

Alternatively, library users may email questions or requests to

Lab staff can provide assistance with basic GIS tasks such as discovering data for your project, getting data into your project, and basic geoprocessing tasks. TAs and instructors remain the primary source of information about assignment scope and requirements.

GIS Assistance
Available in Lab

 Winter 2024
(Jan. 3 - Mar. 15)

(No GIS Assistance)


9:00-11:00am, 3:30-5:30pm

Jan. 15; Feb. 19
Tuesday 9:00-11:00am, 12:30-4:00pm

Jan. 23 (afternoon only)

Wednesday No GIS Lab Assistance  
Thursday 12:30-3:30pm  
Friday 12:30-2:30pm  
Saturday  No GIS Lab Assistance Suzzallo Library Closed
Sunday  No GIS Lab Assistance


Lab Policies

  • Mission Statement
    • The mission of the GIS Lab is to provide space, software and equipment for UW students to work on their GIS assignments with skilled assistance for basic GIS operations. Group work on GIS projects is particularly welcomed in this space.
  • General Usage
    • Open to students, staff and faculty of the University of Washington with a UWNetID.
    • Computers require UWNetID login to access applications. Login failure will require presentation of a current, valid UW ID (Husky Card) to remain in the lab.
    • Computers and ESRI Software are for educational, non-commercial, University related projects and research ONLY. Please familiarize yourself with the ESRI/UW Site License for more details on use restrictions.
    • No food, drink, or smoking is allowed in the lab.
    • No game playing.
    • Users requiring GIS software are given priority use of computers in this room during designated GIS Lab hours. If the lab is full and people are waiting to do GIS work you may be asked to give up your workstation.
    • No general computer support is available from lab staff. Lab staff will only support GIS applications consistent with the Lab Mission Statement.
    • We support collaborative group work, however, noise is to be kept to a minimum. Disruptive patrons will be asked to leave. The Libraries Code of Conduct and Library Computer Use policies will be enforced.
    • The Libraries does not bear responsibility for loss or damage of data or disks that occurs in the lab. Staff will attempt to assist in the recovery of data but cannot guarantee its recovery. The client accepts the risk that data can be irrecoverably lost.
    • All clients must be aware of and abide by all federal copyright laws and any data licenses or use restrictions. See the UW Copyright Information Page for details.
    • Licensed software on the computers may not be copied for any purpose.
    • All legal restrictions about the use of university resources apply.
    • The lab closes at 8pm Sunday through Thursday and at 5pm Friday. Begin saving your work and backing it up at least 10-15 minutes before the lab closes.
  • Security
  • File Storage/Backup
    • Each workstation is equipped with a 40GB hard disk for temporary file storage.
    • You will not be able to store files on the workstation for any longer than you are actually sitting and working in the lab.
    • You are responsible for backing up your data before you leave the lab. You have a couple of different options for backing up your data which is described in the How do I backup my GIS project?
    • While you are using one of the lab computers, you may store files temporarily in the My Documents, Desktop, C:\Downloads, C:\WorkSpace, and C:\Temp folders on that computer. Please back up your files before you leave because they will be deleted when you log off.
  • Software
    • Only staff will install software. If you require an application, web browser plug-in, font, utility, or other software for your use, please email for assistance.
  • Lost and Found
    • Personal belongings left at an unused computer will be transferred to Lost & Found at the Information Desk, Allen Library North when the lab closes.
    • If your belongings are not there, they may have been transferred to the lost and found in the HUB.

How do I backup my GIS project?

There are a range of options for backing files associated with a GIS or other school projects when using computers within the Suzzallo GIS lab. Below are some of the different options:

  1. Use the shortcut on the desktop to access the U Drive, which has 50 GB of storage space provided by the UW-IT.
  2. Use Microsoft OneDrive connected to your UW Net ID, either through desktop app or OneDrive website.
  3. Use a portable USB/thumb/jump drive which can be purchased at various locations across campus.
  4. Use file storage on Canvas, which can be found in the "Account" navigation pane.