The Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information promotes and facilitates the use of maps and geospatial information in research, teaching, and learning at Penn State University. It is located in the basement of Central Pattee Library, University Park campus. We have three main areas of activity: 1) education, outreach, and partnerships; 2) collecting, preserving, and providing access to maps and geospatial information resources; and 3) creating new public domain geospatial datasets of broad interest and/or high research value.
Visit our Story Map Journal on our unit for a highlight of activities.
Education, Outreach, and Partnerships
Center faculty and staff provide basic thorough advanced map and geospatial services to support research, teaching and learning at Penn State. This includes one-on-one and small group consultations, guest lectures and for-credit course integrations, and organizing and hosting outreach events such as GIS Day. We are active participants in a campus GIS Users Group that facilitates and promotes GIS activities at Penn State. Finally, we also provide engaged scholarship opportunities by hiring graduate and undergraduate students to help run our service desk and complete map and geospatial projects often using the latest geospatial data and tools. The results of these projects are often themselves inspirational research and educational tools that demonstrate the capabilities of map and geospatial data, information and tools. To view the results of past student projects, please peruse our Projects pages.
If you’re interested in partnering with the Center on a new education or outreach event, please contact Nathan.
Collection, Preservation, and Access
The Center maintains and provides public access to print map and imagery, scanned map and imagery, geospatial data, specialized geospatial software, and book, atlas and gazetteer collections from the 1700s to present with global geographic reach. Our print map and imagery collection has over 300,000 items, making it the largest in Pennsylvania. We aim to have global coverage of most base data layers (i.e. transportation networks, waterbodies, elevation, etc.), at moderate map scales (~1:250,000) in either print or digital form. We have data and information at much finer scales for some geographic and thematic areas of interest.
Our collection of historical maps, data and imagery for Pennsylvania is particularly strong and we aim to have at least one base data layer for Pennsylvania for every decade from 1800 to present. We also have a large collection of current outdoor recreation maps for patron use — if you are looking to get outdoors in Pennsylvania and want to know where to go, please come peruse our collection of recreation maps.
We are a Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) regional library for maps, meaning that we receive newly printed maps from the Government Printing Office (GPO) on a regular basis, catalog them and incorporate them into our print map collection. We also manage a regional (i.e. for Pennsylvania), collection of government produced maps that dates back to the 1990s.
We are actively digitizing (i.e. scanning), our print collections of maps and imagery. Access is provided on the web and through collaborative projects and partnerships to increase the accessibility of our collections. You can request that we digitize a print map.
We purchase maps, imagery and geospatial data to support research, teaching and learning at Penn State – to request a purchase, please contact Nathan. Purchase requests will be evaluated on a case by case basis.
Access to geospatial data and specialized software is limited to in-person inquiries at this time. Alternative access may be available by request.
Geospatial Data Creation
The newest area of activity for the Center creates and provides access to new geospatial datasets from multiple sources. The two primary sources of these data include: 1) print resources through digitization, georeferencing, and vectorization; and 2) public domain data to which our activities add value. Examples of these efforts include the creation of a spatially-explicit database of State College, PA residents and Penn State students in 1920 and 1930; and georeferencing and distortion correction of historic aerial imagery from Pennsylvania.