Library Symposium on Geographic Information Systems

by | Nov 2, 2017

The Library of Congress will celebrate GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Day on Nov. 14 with an all-day series of talks on the use of GIS technology in the federal government and academia.

The discussions will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Tickets are not required for this event, which is free and open to the public.

A Geographic Information System is a computer system for storing, analyzing, manipulating and displaying digital data that is linked to positions on the Earth's surface. GIS provides the modern basis for digital geographic analysis and map making.

GIS Day”held during Geography Awareness Week (Nov. 12-18)”is an annual, global celebration of GIS technology, with events held by organizations around the world. Formally started in 1999, GIS Day aims to provide a forum to promote the benefits of GIS research, demonstrate real-world applications of GIS and foster open idea sharing and growth in the GIS community.

The Library's morning session will open with a keynote address by Rep. Mark Takano on how GIS and geospatial data is being used for policy in Congress. The morning also will feature talks focusing on activities and resources throughout the Capitol Hill complex. Discussions on using GIS technology in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives and how the Congressional Research Service (CRS) uses this technology to serve Congress.  

The afternoon session will focus on GIS Story Maps and digital humanities. The latest GIS technology has been brought about by the recent launch of the Library’s Geospatial Hosting Environment (GHE). The GHE is an ongoing Library initiative to provide coordinated resources for geospatial analysis and web mapping to Congress, CRS and other researchers in the Library. A host of Library divisions will present Story Map projects that were created using the GHE to showcase Library collections. 

The program will conclude with tours of the Geography and Map Division's collections, including rare cartographic treasures.


8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.: Coffee Conversations

9:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.:  Welcome, Dr. Paulette Hasier, chief Geography and Map division

9:30 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. Mark Sweeney, Introduction of Keynote Speaker, acting deputy librarian

9:40 a.m. to 10 a.m.: GIS and Geospatial Data for Policy in Congress, by Congressman Mark Takano, of California


10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.:   Congressional Research Service Analysts on GIS for Congress by Mary Mazanec, director of the Congressional Research Service

10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.: Coffee break

10:45 a.m. to11:15 a.m.:  Using GIS in the Senate, by Timothy Petty, deputy legislative director, Sen. James E. Risch, of Idaho

11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.: Using GIS in the House of Representatives, by Rae Best, House librarian and Nate Bradley, House library GIS specialist

11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch

1 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.: Introduction to GIS and Story Maps for the Digital Humanities, by John Hessler, Specialist in modern cartography and GIS at the Library of Congress

1:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.: Story Maps: Case Studies in Design, by Owen Williams, ESRI

1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Story Map Pilot Project Presentations, by Library of Congress divisions, including:

Law Library of Congress

Geography and Map Division

Rare Book and Special Collections Division

Prints and Photographs Division

Asian Division

The American Folklife Center

Serial and Government Publications Division


3 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.: Concluding remarks

3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Open house in the Geography and Map Division

The Library of Congress has the largest and most comprehensive collection of maps and atlases in the world, some 5.4 million cartographic items that date from the 14th century to the present time. The cartographic collections cover every country and subject, in formats ranging from early manuscripts to the most up-to-date digital geospatial data and software. The collections include the works of some of the most important surveyors and mapmakers in America, such as George Washington, Meriwether Lewis and Richard Edes Harrison, along with archives relating to the history of geography in the United States. For more information, visit

The Library of Congress is the world's largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States”and extensive materials from around the world”both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at, and register creative works of authorship at


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