Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ball State University Students Track Urban Growth Using Maps from University Libraries

Geography Students Map Urban Development

Students from Geography 150 classes at Ball State University researched urban development using maps from the GIS Research and Map Collection. Over 90 students visited the GRMC for a class assignment called “Cities @ Work.” The students used nearly 2,000 maps to complete their assignment. The assignment was created by Carol Shears, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, with assistance from Melissa Gentry of the GRMC.
Each student chose an American city and analyzed maps to determine how the city has grown. The students use historic maps, modern street maps, bird’s-eye-view maps, aerial photography, and topographic maps from the Map Collection to track each city’s urban development. Students analyzed industrialization, militarization, and housing starts and reviewed how the interstate highway system affected change to the city’s landscape.
Professor Shears urged students to take time to study the U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps from the GRMC in particular. “It has often been said that a single…topographic map shows at least a million pieces of information,” according to Shears. The GRMC has a large collection of topographic maps from the U.S.G.S. for all fifty states. Topographic maps from around the world—nearly every country—are also available.
For more information about creating class assignments using maps, please contact the staff of the GRMC at 765/285-1097.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Indiana Music History Map from Ball State University Libraries

Indiana Rocks: Musical History Map of the Hoosier State

The GIS Research and Map Collection provides resources for teachers and other researchers through the University Libraries Cardinal Scholar institutional repository. The GRMC regularly creates maps, commemorative posters, lesson plans, and online tutorials and provides access to these resources on the GRMC Web page or the Cardinal Scholar repository located at

The newest map available as an educational resource is Hoosier Harmony: Music of Indiana. This map details some of the rich music history of Indiana. The map features photographs of musicians, songwriters, and music groups from Indiana like Cole Porter, the Jackson Five, and John Mellencamp. The map also shows the location of annual music festivals and important sites in music history like Elvis Presley’s last concert and the Gennett Records studio in Richmond.

The map can be accessed in PDF-format from the Cardinal Scholar at To review other resources from the GRMC, click on “Creator” on the left side of the Cardinal Scholar home page. Scroll down and select “GIS Research and Map Collection” for a complete list of available resources. Members of the Ball State University community may print off large copies of the maps and posters on the large-format plotter in the GRMC on the second floor of Bracken Library. (Plotter printing charges are sent directly to the Bursar’s account).

For more information about the musical map of Indiana, please contact the staff of the GRMC at 765/285-1097 Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 5:00.

Historic Preservation Research in Ball State University Libraries

Mapping the Past

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 was created because of a growing public concern that many of the nation’s historic sites and properties were not being protected and could possibly be harmed by federal and other development projects. This Act protects historic properties that are considered during federal project planning. Archaeologists research development sites and report findings and the identification of historic properties to state agencies like the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

Archaeologists frequently use maps and other resources from the GIS Research and Map Collection at Ball State University to research development sites. The archaeologists can then more efficiently do field studies.

Mitchell Zoll, archaeologist for Pioneer Consulting Services and the former assistant director of the Ball State University Archaeological Resources Management Service, and his staff regularly use maps to conduct preliminary investigations on government and other development projects throughout the Midwest. The map Indiana, the Influence of the Indian upon Its History: with Indian and French Names for Natural and Cultural Locations (shown above), helps Zoll and his staff identify locations that may be of historic value. The map shows the locations of Native American villages in early Indiana, battle sites, historic trails, and the locations of the first White settlers in the area.

Larry Stillwell of Archaeological Consultants of Ossian frequently uses historic maps and U.S.G.S. topographic maps to research the historic value of development sites. Stillwell used maps from the GRMC to provide information to state agencies for the planning of the Honda production plant near Greensburg.

May is National Historic Preservation Month. The Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology and other local agencies celebrate the month with special tours of historic sites, lectures and exhibits, award banquets, and highlight historic preservation efforts around the state and country. For more information, access the Department of Natural Resources’ Web page at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Environmental Cartographic Resources Available from Ball State University Libraries

Celebrating Earth Day: Ball State University Libraries Offers Cartographic Resources for the Study of the Environment

Ball State University Libraries includes many cartographic resources for researchers studying issues of the environment. Hundreds of maps about numerous environmental topics are available, and many of the books and atlases offer unique charts, images, illustrations, and other graphics as well as numerous topical maps.

Researchers can find flood plain maps for numerous areas and topographic maps for areas around the world in the newly named GIS Research and Map Collection on the second floor of Bracken Library. The GRMC offers soils surveys and maps from counties around the country, Gap Analysis electronic resources for land cover, forest types, and other factors, maps of important farmlands in counties around the United States, watershed and ground water maps, natural gas and other energy maps, and national and state park and forest maps. Maps of ecoregions of numerous states and ecosystems for wildlife are also available from the GRMC. Researchers can use maps of threatened areas around the world from the GRMC: Africa Threatened, Australia Under Siege, and Millennium in Maps: World Biodiversity. The GRMC includes satellite image maps of the Amazon Basin, maps of the Okavango Delta, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Researchers can also use dozens of maps focusing on world wildlife.

Other environmental atlases and resources can be found in the Atlas Collection, the General Collection, the Reference Collection, and the Science-Health Science Library. The Educational Resources Collection includes environmental books and atlases directed at a younger audience like the Atlas of Endangered Species and the Atlas of Threatened Cultures.

For a more complete list of the available cartographic resources in University Libraries, please review the environmental subject guide on the GRMC Web page at,,59405--,00.html.

Maps from the GRMC can be circulated for two weeks or longer. Atlases circulate for four weeks or longer. Please contact the GRMC at 765/285-1097 for more information about these resources.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wildflowers Walks at Ball State University

Take a Hike: Wildflower Walks at Ball State University

The Ball State University Field Station is once again conducting wildflower walks at Christy Woods. The staff of the Field Station will lead the tours through Christy Woods, teaching about its history and management.

Tourists can learn about the wildflowers that decorate the forest floor. Tour dates are Saturday, April 25 and May 2 at 1:00 P.M. beginning at the Orchid Greenhouse near the south gate to Christy Woods (shown as #4 on the map from the GRMC above). The wildflower walks are approximately 50 minutes and are free and open to the public.

Please contact John Taylor, Field Station Manager, for details at or 765/285-2641.