Purpose of Collection:

Our Geospatial / GIS resources is intended to help understand and represent spatial patterns and relationships, through digital data and visualizations related to positions on Earth's surface. For concrete examples of our collections in action, please visit our GIS or Getting Started with Online Maps subject guides.

Academic Departments & Programs Supported:

  • Due to the interdisciplinary and broad applicability of geospatial information and data, virtually all undergraduate and graduate programs have been active users of our GIS resources and support services, with over 44 departments actively using Carleton's ArcGIS data and software.
  • The Faculty of Engineering & Design, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, and Faculty of Science represent the top three faculties with departments and programs using our geospatial resources and services.

Themes/Subject Coverage

  • Small-scale mapping - political and administrative divisions; physical geography: geology, soils, landscapes, environment, natural resources, topography; human geography: population, socio-economic patterns, land use, transportation systems, historical events; aerial imagery; LiDAR.
  • Local geospatial data files are provided by the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission. Research level (4+).
  • Large-scale mapping - topographic coverage of the world at 1:250,000 to 1:1,000,000 scales.
  • Specific area requests - Requests for specific datasets are evaluated for acquisition according to their relevance to the teaching and research needs of the university. Such requests from researchers are filled where possible; decisions not to acquire are affected by availability, cost, dependability of the data producer, data management issues and licensing restrictions

Selection Guidelines


Emphasis on current but including selected historical coverage.


  1. National Capital area, Ottawa/Gatineau (formerly Hull)
  2. All available data at all scales Ontario and Quebec
  3. Other Canadian provinces
  4. Canada, at scales of 1:50,000 and above
  5. United States
  6. All other countries and regions
  7. World
  8. Extraterrestrial bodies


English is the primary language of the collection. Works published in other languages are purchased very selectively and at the specific request of faculty.

Data Formats

Geospatial data are collected in the following common GIS file formats, including but not limited to:

  • Vector (e.g. shapefile, geodatabase, AutoCAD drawing, GeoJSON)
  • Raster (e.g. GeoTIFF, JPEG, DEM, NetCDF)
  • LiDAR (e.g. LAS, LAZ, ZLAS)

GIS vector files may be created from scanned images if required.

Remote sensing images are considered on a case by case basis subject to geographic, topical and budgetary constraints.

Software Support

Data and image management and GIS software is available for use with geospatial data in the library collection and via library GIS workstations. A variety of current GIS software is available.


  • Guidebooks of regions outside Canada (except if they belong to a multi-volume set).
  • Short course notes, notes of field trips, laboratory notes, laboratory identification tools.
  • Publications belonging to a numbered series in foreign languages.
  • Monographs of a numbered series published by research institutions. They are usually small and highly specialized.


  • Most data are collected by means of consortium arrangements that involve cost-sharing among academic institutions.
  • GIS data is collected from the Ontario Geospatial Data Exchange (OGDE) through OCUL consortium subscriptions and from DMTI through a national consortium subscription. Research level (4+).

Additional Collection Information

Related Subject Profiles

Revised April 21, 2022