Presentations 2023

A Survey of Student Employment and Geospatial Services in Academic Libraries

Student employees are often vital members of an academic library’s workforce, though the extent to which they contribute to library geospatial services has not yet been explored. There are numerous references to the activities of student employees in the map and geospatial librarianship literature, but usually only as a brief note in institutional case studies or other reports on professional practice. These publications are extremely valuable, but because their main focus is typically on topics other than student employment, they may lack essential information for library professionals to design, implement, or advocate for similar student opportunities as part of their own geospatial services staffing models. The present study was designed to address this apparent gap through a survey of academic library professionals involved in employing students to provide geospatial services. Topics addressed in the survey included department staffing models, student employee responsibilities, funding sources and compensation for student positions, and the perceived benefits and challenges of employing students to provide geospatial services. Forty complete responses were received through the survey, and I will report on the results in this presentation. These results will provide map and geospatial library professionals with a better understanding of how student employees contribute to geospatial services, as well as practical information they can use to reflect upon their current staffing practices, engage in conversations with library administrators or potential campus partners, and develop or enhance student employment opportunities at their own institutions.

Joshua Sadvari, The Ohio State University

Presentation | Thursday, August 10th | 11:20am – 11:40am PDT

British Columbia’s Dominion Land Surveys


Evan Thornberry, University of British Columbia

Lightning Talk | Friday, August 11th | 10:20am –
10:25am PDT

Cartographic Puberty: The Emergence of the Canadian Geographic Information System

What events and movements led to the development of the first digital map in the world? This important question traces the history of the Canadian Geographic Information System (CGIS) and its origins. Archived CGIS geospatial data and metadata reveal the first digital landscape of Canada ever produced during the Canada Land Inventory (CLI). The CLI map series is the first digital self-portrait of a nation. What do these data and maps mean to us, 60 years later, as many are entering the public domain? In this presentation, I will briefly trace this history of “cartographic puberty”, the transition from paper maps to magnetic tapes, and offer some reflection on the factors of this unique historical development that are in many ways similar to the challenges, crises, and processes that we face today.

Paul Pickell, University of British Columbia

Lightning Talk | Friday, August 11th | 10:15am –
10:20am PDT

Digital Pin Map – A new way to browse a map collection

Most visitors to the Map Collection at the Arthur Lakes Library, Colorado School of Mines, want to see a map of an area they are familiar with or of their home town. But using the proper terms in a Library’s catalog can be cumbersome and confusing. I sought a new way to allow people to quickly and intuitively find paper maps in our collection. To the that end, I sought to make an interactive, digital map to browse the collection. Conceptually, users would drop a pin on a digital map, and a pop-up would appear telling them which drawer to find a paper map of their area. Since I am not expert in computer programming, I needed to find people who were experts and could design the system I desired. To that end, I became a client for a team in the Senior Design class in the Computer Science Department at Mines. I tasked my group with creating the digital pin map for the Map Collection. I required the students to produce a program that was open-sourced, customizable, and free for others to use. They succeeded! The digital pin map is an intuitive way for users to quickly find maps without typing terms into the Library’s catalog. More importantly, the digital pin map the students created can be used and customized by other libraries or museums to guide visitors to the physical items within a collection.

Christopher Thiry, Colorado School of Mines

Lightning Talk | Thursday, August 10th | 11:10am – 11:15am PDT

GIS Librarians for Open Workflows (GLOW)

This paper presents GIS Librarians for Open Workflows (GLOW), a program funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and organized in collaboration by the University of Chicago Library and the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS). GLOW supported multiple forums and workshops that focused on the workflows of librarians and library staff who support GIS and its use across diverse academic disciplines. Concrete examples from social justice, health, and infrastructure application areas were used to ground the discussions. Librarians shared their existing consulting and instructional workflows and practices, and their development and use of OERs. This paper shares an overview of the program’s goals, structure, and outcomes, including insights into the GIS consultation and using geospatial OERs.

Cecilia Smith, University of Chicago

Presentation | Friday, August 11th | 10:45am –
11:05am PDT

Introducing IMGIS, an Open Educational GIS Resources Repository

In 2022, ROLGGE (Role of Librarians in Geography and GIS Education) and the IASSIST Geospatial Interest group launched a repository of open educational GIS resources, Instruction Materials by and for GIS Librarians and Instructors (IMGIS). This repository, built in OSF (Open Science Framework), is intended as a resource for GIS librarians and instructors to share ideas and content related to teaching GIS. The repository maintainers regularly add resources, which include sets of workshop or instructional materials, assignments, tutorials, map examples, presentations, readings, etc. This presentation will discuss what has been learned so far, how IMGIS can continue to grow, and how it can be a useful means of promoting authorship and educational development for GIS library professionals.

Lena Denis, Geospatial Data, GIS, and Maps Librarian, Johns Hopkins University; Jennie Murack, GIS & Data Librarian, MIT; Emma Slayton, PhD. Carnegie Mellon Libraries, Data Curation, Visualization, and GIS Specialist; Amanda Tickner, GIS Librarian, Michigan State University Libraries

Presentation | Friday, August 11th | 11:05am –
11:25pm PDT

Make your map collection FAB-U-LOUS!

Working from an assumption that the physical map collection at the Arthur Lakes Library, Colorado School of Mines is useful and interesting, I set forth on a path to make the map collection more engaging. But how to draw users in so they would spend more than a few seconds looking around the Map Room? Starting in the fall of 2021, I hired 2 student workers whose entire charge was to make the Map Room look fabulous. They received no training regarding how the collection nor individual maps were organized or kept. They started with the basic belief that maps were awesome. Their imagination, tempered with my guidance, has indeed made the Map Room fabulous, cool, and fun. They have painted the ceiling, created interactive exhibits, and made the Map Room an enjoyable stop on campus tours.

Christopher Thiry, Colorado School of Mines

Presentation | Thursday, August 10th | 10:10am – 10:30am PDT

Map Mashup!

In April 2023, the UC Berkeley Earth Sciences & Map Library hosted an experimental 2-day event: the Map Mashup. The Library invited students and others to use maps from the collection as the basis for a new map. Together with the Library’s Scholarly Communications Services Office and students from the Geography Department, Earth Sciences & Maps Library staff planned a series of map-related workshops and open work hours for people to work on their map mashups. Participants could work either individually or in groups and create their map mashups either on a computer or using physical materials. The Library plans to archive and publish digital versions of the final map mashups. This talk will give a brief overview of the multi-day event, explore what worked and what did not, and showcase some examples of submitted map mashup creations!

Susan Powell, UC Berkeley

LIghtning Talk | Thursday, August 10th | 11:00am – 11:05am PDT

(Map) Weeding for the Uncertain Gardener : advice for massive map weeding projects

Massive map weeding projects have happened in many libraries. What can we, as stewards of physical map collections, do to ensure the weeding is done in a mindful way? If a collection is to be downsized significantly, where should we begin, what kind of processes can we follow, who should we talk with, and what should we be aware of so that the entire endeavor is done with critical input from those most affected? This workshop will explore these topics, share policies, and give useful advice on massive map weeding projects. We will distribute forms and worksheets. This workshop will require participants to prepare some materials before the conference.

Christopher J.J. Thiry, Colorado School of Mines; Janet Reyes, University of California, Riverside; Martin Chandler, Cape Breton University

Workshop | Wednesday, August 9th | 1:00pm – 2:30pm PDT

Mapping German Americans and their communities: Heinz Kloss and his 1974 ethnographic atlas

Writing in 1976, LaVern Rippley reviewed a new reference work, which subsequently left its mark on the field of German-American Studies, the Atlas of 19th and early 20th century German-American settlement, published in Marburg, Germany, in a bilingual German-English edition. Rippley described the atlas as an impressive achievement of data visualization, “which presents the statistical information that was compiled by the census bureau, various church bodies, … and a variety of social organizations of the German-Americans.” The atlas is physically massive, weighing in at 12 pounds. It contains 108 leaves of plates, chiefly folded maps, with sets arranged in a lettered series. Kloss skillfully mined and visualized a large variety of data sources, drawing on his long career as a researcher in the field of German-American Studies, which started 1927 at the Deutsches Ausland-Institut[l1] (= Institute for the Study of Germans Abroad), a nonprofit research institute located in Stuttgart, where scholars in the mid-1930s envisioned an ambitious multi-volume atlas to map Volksdeutsche (= German-speaking emigrants and their descendants) and their communities. Kloss analyzes the distributions of key groups within the conservative church Germans and liberal club Germans milieus and thus documents the diversity of the German diaspora with thematic maps. This generated some interest among geographers: Karl Raitz, in “Ethnic Maps of North America” (1978), viewed the atlas “as a research tool for the study of linguistic assimilation.” However, the atlas also reflects the author’s intellectual roots in the problematic Volksgeschichte tradition, which produced a social history that privileged ethnocentric historical narratives. In Germany, this historical tradition is tainted by its embrace of social Darwinist and racist ideas and association with völkisch conservative and later National Socialist thinkers, a dead end in the construction of a meaningful historical research agenda. Archival research at the state library in Hamburg, Germany, showed that many of these maps were produced in the late 1930s and early 1940s when Kloss served as head of two research institutions, the Arbeitsstelle für Volksforschung (1938-45) and the Publikationsstelle Hamburg-Stuttgart (1941-1945). Both were administratively subordinated to Nazi state institutions. Clemens Knoblauch sees Kloss as a “leading exponent of Nazi language- and ethnopolitics,” a damning assessment which meets the mark (Knobloch, Volkhafte Sprachforschung, 2005).

Heiko Mühr, University of California Berkeley

Presentation | Friday, August 11th | 9:00am –
9:45am PDT

Navigating Consultation Challenges: Strategies for GIS Librarians

The Navigating Consultation Challenges: Strategies for GIS Librarians workshop facilitates GIS librarian exploration of effective consultation approaches for different audiences. This 90-minute workshop will start with a brief review of the IMLS-funded GIS Librarian’s for Open Workflows (GLOW) program, including learnings from program events held in 2022 and 2023, which focused on library GIS consultations and using geospatial OERs to support librarian workflows. Participants will hear from a GLOW participant who will share insights on effective consultation strategies for different audiences. The workshop will include small group discussions and interactive activities to simulate consultation challenges and develop effective approaches. Additionally, participants will analyze a case study that highlights a consultation challenge for a specific audience, discussing and sharing insights with others. Through the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to share experiences, network with other WAML participants, and learn about effective consultation strategies. The GLOW program is a collaboration between the UChicago Library and the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS).

Cecilia Smith, University of Chicago

Workshop | Friday, August 11th | 1:15pm –
2:00pm PDT


OpenIndexMaps is a collaborative project from the GeoBlacklight Community to create a GeoJSON-based file specification for standardizing spatial index map creation. Building on the work of Map Librarians who have been using digital tools to index physical collections for decades, the OpenIndexMaps project hopes to offer a flexible, standardized, and community developed format for storing and sharing geographic index information. Examples of collections that could benefit from this project include large paper map series, air photo series, or any geospatial format where footprints or index polygons could aid in discovery and access. In our workshop, we hope to build an understanding of digital index mapping—laying a foundation for map librarians to utilize these tools for creating index maps, sharing them with others with GitHub, and using them in data portals including GeoBlacklight or web mapping applications. We will be breaking down the specification to show its flexibility for a variety of formats and applications. The workshop will use the free and open source QGIS. Finally, we hope to encourage conversations and perhaps contributions from attendees to help the project move forward and remain useful for the WAML community and beyond.

Stephen Appel, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Tom Brittnacher, University of California Santa Barbara

Workshop | Wednesday, August 9th | 10:30am – 12:00pm PDT

Share Your Work, Shape Our Field: Tips for Authors and Reviewers for the Journal of Map & Geography Libraries

The Journal of Map & Geography Libraries publishes scholarship on the collection, curation, and use of geographic information and cartographic materials and on professional practices and issues relevant to the map and geospatial library community. In this workshop, the journal’s new co-editors will provide tips for prospective authors and reviewers for the journal as they navigate the manuscript submission, peer review, article production, and publication processes. We will discuss the journal’s peer review process in the context of both the author and reviewer experience and solicit feedback to inform community guidelines for peer reviewers. • For new authors, we will provide information about the journal’s aims and scope and types of submissions accepted. We will discuss strategies and resources available for preparing your original manuscript and provide an overview of the ScholarOne system used for manuscript submission and peer review. • For all authors, we will offer tips on incorporating and responding to reviewers’ comments. We will discuss the journal’s Gold and Green open access publishing options and offer tips for increasing the visibility of your article once it has been accepted for publication. • For reviewers, we will discuss expectations and offer tips on providing constructive criticism and receiving recognition for work as a peer reviewer. In addition to offering guidance to authors and reviewers, we will facilitate a discussion with workshop participants so that we can better understand their perspectives on the future directions of the journal. In particular, we are interested in emerging topics relevant to the community that will help us in scoping future special issues, as well as feedback that can assist our editorial team in continually improving the author and reviewer experience for the journal.

Theresa Quill, Indiana University; Joshua Sadvari, The Ohio State University

Workshop | Thursday, August 10th | 3:20pm –
4:50pm PDT

Developing Reusable GIS Workshops with Graduate Student Employees


Evan Thornberry, University of British Columbia

Presentation | Thursday, August 10th | 11:40am – 12:00pm PDT

Teaching GIS as and for community engagement

This talk will present two cases of an academic library teaching GIS workshops for mixed audiences of the public and researchers. Both cases are experimental in that they explored the boundaries of what academic libraries can do to teach GIS in the context of universities increasingly putting more emphasis on community engagement. The first case focuses on promoting spatial literacy as a public engagement endeavor by the library. The talk will cover the lessons learned and why it is important for academic libraries to cultivate spatial literacy for the public in an age of a plethora of data and misleading maps on the web. It will also illustrate the ways in which a workshop like this contributes to our library/university’s commitment to community engagement. The second case highlights a workshop on participatory mapping, an area seeking to provide a bridge for communities to engage in mapping, share knowledge, create data, and value community-based knowledge. The workshop represents an effort to equip researchers and community members with a tool and method that enables deeper engagement with communities, particularly useful for research that involves collecting/centering location-based community knowledge as data.

Sarah Zhang, Simon Fraser University

Presentation | Friday, August 11th | 11:25am –
11:45pm PDT

Thinking about Accessibility and our work

We will talk about some of our thoughts on accessibility and then invite interested folks to join us in an interest group over the next year for deeper discussions.

Jessica Benner, Carnegie Mellon University; Chrissy Klenke, University
of Nevada Reno

Lightning Talk | Thursday, August 10th | 11:05am – 11:10am PDT

What’s Old is New: The Case for Pictorial Maps in Research and Instruction

Pictorial maps were incredibly popular from the 1920’s through the 1960’s, and were mainly created for use by schoolchildren, whimsy, and advertising. Because these purposes were deemed less serious the maps were mainly seen as ephemeral and were generally not collected by academic research libraries or, for that matter, map collectors. Pictorial maps are now having a resurgence in popularity and are selling for thousands of dollars. The presenter will draw from the Clark Library’s growing collection of several hundred pictorial maps to share examples of their increasing use and demand in class instruction and historical research at the University of Michigan.

Tim Utter, Clark Library, University of Michigan Library

Presentation | Thursday, August 10th | 9:50am – 10:10am PDT

Where in the world do we put wall maps?

Wall maps were once a staple of cartographic education. Today, wall maps are a twenty-first century map librarian’s headache. While map librarians are tasked with preserving and promoting the use of wall maps in our collections, issues like finding storage solutions and providing access overshadow these cartographic tools. Find out about our wall map processing project at the American Geographical Society Library, and how we are systematically processing the estimated 700 wall maps in our collection. In addition, the presentation will address the challenges that map librarians face in preserving and making accessible wall maps in their collections. It will cover all the literature regarding best practices for storage, handling, and digitization.

Georgia Brown, American Geographical Society Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Presentation | Thursday, August 10th | 9:30am – 9:50am PDT

Speakers 2023

Amanda Tickner

GIS Librarian

Michigan State University

Cecilia Smith

University of Chicago

Cecilia Smith is the Director of Digital Scholarship at the University of Chicago Library. She leads the Center for Digital Scholarship to support open access scholarship, research data management, geospatial data, and digital collections. Her background is in geographic information science and she leads the NEH-funded Mapping Chicagoland Project and the IMLS-funded GIS Librarians for Open Workflows initiative.

Chrissy Klenke

University of Nevada, Reno

Christopher J.J. Thiry

Map & GIS Librarian

Colorado School of Mines

Christopher J.J. Thiry has been the Map & GIS Librarian at the Colorado School of Mines Arthur Lakes Library since 1995. Previously, he worked in the Map Division of the New York Public Library. He holds a BA in history and a MILS from the University of Michigan. He has taught numerous workshops including some in the United Arab Emirates regarding map librarianship, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), map resources, and map cataloging. He completed a summer internship at the Library of Congress’ Geography and Map Division. He has been the President of the Western Association of Map Libraries (WAML) twice, and has hosted a WAML meeting on 2 occasions and shepherded it once more. He is the editor of the 3rd edition of the American Library Association’s (ALA) “Guide to US Map Resources,” and creator of the “Clearinghouse of GIS-made indexes to paper map sets”. He has done extensive research on the history of race-based covenants in Jefferson County, Colorado.

Emma Slayton

Data Curation, Visualization, and GIS Specialist

Carnegie Mellon University


Evan Thornberry


University of British Columbia


Georgia Brown




Georgia Brown is the Public Services Librarian at the American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her job includes helping students, researchers, and community members with their research in addition to doing instruction sessions with UWM classes at all levels.

Heiko Muhr




Janet Reyes




Jennie Murack

GIS & Data Librarian



Jessica Benner




Joshua Sadvari

Geospatial Information Librarian

The Ohio State University


Joshua Sadvari is the Geospatial Information Librarian at The Ohio State University Libraries. In this role, he is responsible for developing and delivering educational activities to support the use of GIS in research and teaching and for acting as a project consultant for faculty, staff, and students from all disciplines who are working with geospatial data, methods, and tools. He is also an incoming Co-editor for the Journal of Map & Geography Libraries.

Lena Denis

Geospatial Data, GIS, and Maps Librarian

Johns Hopkins University


Martin Chandler


Cape Breton


Paul Pickell


University of British Columbia


Paul Pickell is an Assistant Professor of Teaching of geomatics at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Faculty of Forestry. He teaches Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in several undergraduate and graduate programs and leads the development of immersive virtual reality, augmented reality, and web-based mapping applications for teaching GIS at UBC. He is an editor and an author of the Open Educational Resource geomatics textbook, Geomatics for Environmental Management: An Open Textbook for Students and Practitioners and also a Faculty in Residence with the Emerging Media Lab at UBC.

Sarah Zhang

Librarian for Geography, GIS &Maps

Simon Fraser University


Sarah holds a MLIS and a Master of Science in Ecology. As an immigrant and mother, she is constantly inspired by the cultures around her, whether as an insider or outsider. She is passionate about lowering the bar to entering GIS/mapping for students, researchers, and the public.

Stephen Appel

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee



Stephen manages the geospatial data services and collections at the American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries. He has a GIS Certificate and an MS in Geography, both from UWM. Stephen’s research interests are geospatial information literacy instruction, index maps, and collections as data. It’s his first time at WAML in person!

Susan Powell

GIS & Map Librarian

University of California, Berkeley


Susan is the GIS & Map Librarian in UC Berkeley’s Earth Sciences & Map Library, where she manages the library’s physical map, air photo, and geospatial data collections and helps people use them in research and teaching. She also serves as the subject liaison for Berkeley’s geography department. Susan’s research interests include digital transformation of collections, spatial humanities, and Mongolian studies. She holds a BA in Geology from Oberlin College and both an MLIS and an MA in Geography from Indiana University – Bloomington.

Theresa Quill

Map and Spatial Data Librarian

Indiana University


Theresa Quill is the Map and Spatial Data Librarian at Indiana University Bloomington. She supports research and teaching in the areas of maps, Geographic Information Systems/Science (GIS), and spatial data, liaises with the Department of Geography, and manages collections for these areas. Theresa also teaches a workshop series on digital mapping called Cartoshop. Her professional interests are focused on humanitarian mapping, critical cartography, and spatial humanities.

Tim Utter


University of Michigan


Tom Brittnacher

Curator for Geospatial and Digital Collections

University of California, Santa Barbara

Social Events

We’re organizing several social events during the conference week. All events are listed in the conference program, and more detailed information is provided below.


When: Open the entire conference!

This year’s conference will come with a custom conference Gather space for attendees to mingle with friends and colleagues, search for treasures, learn more about our sponsors, introduce your pets, show off your Halloween costume, and hang out on the beach. The space will be open starting Tuesday (October 26) and won’t close until Friday evening. So feel free to drop in during a break or attend one of the social hours the end each conference day.

Access to the WAML 2021 Gather space is done with a guest list, so be sure to use the email matching the one you used to register for the conference. The space is limited to 70 people at one time, so if it’s full when you arrive, just wait a moment until enough people leave to free up more space.

In your first attempt to enter the Gather space, you will set up your avatar and be guided through a tutorial on how to navigate the map and interface. If you have any questions, or want to get started early, see this Gather 101 tutorial.


When: Wednesday, October 27 – 1:35pm to 2:25pm PDT (Your time (approx.))

Brush up on your knowledge of obscure facts since this year we’re hosting a trivia session!! There will be two mixed-question rounds, and winners of each will be awarded a special prize. Trivia will use Kahoot! to deliver the trivia session, and the link to the live session will be revealed in the conference program soon!

Early Career Social Hour

When: Wednesday, October 27 – 2:25pm to 3:25pm PDT (Your time (approx.))

Head over to the Gather space for a special social hour focused on the interests of student early career librarians! So if this is you, we encourage you to attend to find out how WAML can support you in your professional roles. We also encourage veteran librarians to attend to provide their wisdom and expertise to answer questions and announce and existing or future job postings! Hope to see you there!

Gather Social Lunch

When: Friday, October 29 – 2:25pm to 3:25pm PDT (Your time (approx.))

We’ll meet up in the Gather space lounge to take a break from the conference and eat lunch with colleagues. Tables in the lounge will allow you to have smaller conversations with folks only sitting with you, so feel free to jump around and mingle with friends or park yourself in one place for the whole hour.