For FAQs and current status of services and policies see UW Libraries Operations Updates
Map Collection staff can:
Map Collection staff cannot:
The Map Collection has collections of digital geospatial data on CD-ROM and on servers for research and educational use. Our collection focuses on the Puget Sound and State of Washington areas, but we also have national and international datasets.
Examples of our data include digital orthophotos of the Seattle area, U.S. Census data, digital line graphs (DLGs) and digital raster graphics (DRGs), as well as datasets from the City of Seattle, King County, and Snohomish County. Information in these datasets includes street layers, bike paths, critical areas (e.g., potential slide areas), building outlines, and much more.
To see some of the digital data that the Map Collection offers online, look at the Geospatial Data Resources Guide (formerly WAGDA). Use of selected datasets is restricted to UW students, faculty and staff due to license agreements with the data creator/provider.
GIS assistance is available from
UW Libraries provides access to a variety of software packages, including TopoUSA, Microsoft Encarta, MapPoint 2000, Census data extraction software, and several applications available through the university-wide ESRI site license.
A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a database management system for the display and analysis of digital geospatial data. GIS combines mapping capabilities, databases of geographic and feature information, and spatial analysis to allow users to look at an area in relation to other areas, in relation to changes over time, and in relation to various other factors.
"Simply put, a GIS combines layers of information about a place to give you a better understanding of that place. What layers of information you combine depends on your purpose—finding the best location for a new store, analyzing environmental damage, viewing similar crimes in a city to detect a pattern, and so on." (ESRI, What Is GIS?.)
The Ordnance Survey's GIS Zone provides an interactive introduction to GIS.
Clarify your data needs with this Needs Assessment prior to contacting us for assistance.
Ask yourself which organization might have produced the data you need:
Search for their website using a general search engine or try usa.gov.
GIS data can be expensive. If you are considering buying GIS data for a University of Washington project, please contact us first. We may already own data that would be helpful to you or may be able to help you locate what you are looking for.