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Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

This Subject Guide provides you with many GIS resources which can enable you to successfully use GIS for your research and coursework.

Need GIS Data?

There is a wealth of GIS data available to you through resources located at the CSGD and through links to web-based data (listed in the center column).   The CSGD maintains a large electronic library of GIS data collected from around the world, mostly in shapefile format, on the library's data server. Also available, for in-library use only, is a modest collection of data sets on CD-ROM.  

You are welcome to stop in and browse the collection, the data is free to use for any Case affiliate. Those outside the Case community may place requests for data, and in some cases we can email you the file(s) of interest or point you to the source from which we obtained the data. Unfortunately some data sets are restricted to educational use only and cannot be distributed.

GIS Data Online

There are several resources for locating geospatial data and maps for use with GIS software. Additionally, there are clearinghouse resources which provide users with the opportunity to browse data available from commercial and government sources.


Cuyahoga County GIS - The county provides many different datasets for download including a wide variety of shapefiles, aerial photography, LiDAR, and 2-foot contours.

GIMS - Geographic Information Management Systems sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

NEOCANDO  - Northeast Ohio Community and Neighborhood Data for Organizing (at CWRU) provides data for crime, juvenile delinquency, child maltreatment, births and deaths are available at different geographic levels. Free registration is required for data access.

OGRIP - Ohio Geographically Referenced Information Program - provides spatial data sets and maps available for download. 

PUCO - the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio - provides shapefiles of various utilities and service areas. 


Census 2000 TIGER/Line Shapefiles - TIGER/Line files are extracts of selected geographic and cartographic information from the Census Bureau's TIGER (Topographically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing) database. The files have been converted to shapefile format by ESRI.

Digital Raster Graphics (DRGs) - are scanned, georeferenced topographical maps. The maps are projected using the local UTM coordinates, and are registered to the collars.

Digital Line Graphs (DLGs) - vector based data files that display features found on a USGS topographic map. Not all areas of the country have had DRGs produced as of yet, and some areas have only partial data. The hypsography layer of DLGs will provide users with contour lines.

Digital Orthophoto Quadrangle (DOQ) - computer-generated image of an aerial photograph. It has been orthorectified--altered so that it has the geometric properties of a map. The standard DOQ from the USGS is a black & white or color-infrared image covering 3.75 minutes of latitude by 3.75 minutes of longitude. Four DOQs can be combined to cover the area represented by a standard USGD 7.5-minute, 1:24,000-scale topographic map.

Environmental / Natural Resourcesthe Geospatial Data Gateway (GDG) provides environmental and natural resources data through a close partnership between the three Service Center Agencies (SCA): Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), and Rural Development (RD).

Historical Topographic Maps -  the USGS provides access to its historic topographic maps (1884-2006) through topoView. Maps can be downloaded in GeoTIFF format for use in a GIS.

National Elevation Dataset (NED) -  is the primary elevation data product of the USGS.  The NED has a 1-meter resolution.

National Historic Boundaries - the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) provides, free of charge, aggregate census data and GIS-compatible boundary files for the United States between 1790 and 2013.

National Map - the USGS provides downloadable GIS data for land cover, governmental units / boundaries, elevation, geographic mames / map reference, and water features.

National Wetlands Inventory - the US Fish and Wildlife Service provide downloadable wetlands GIS data for the lower 48 states.

State or County Level GIS Data - free data from the GIS Data Depot. You must first setup a user account to access files. Most GIS files are in Interchange File format (.E00) which can easily be converted to shapefile using ArcGIS (ArcView 8x Tools).


Global or Country Level GIS Data - free data from the DIVA-GIS.  GIS files are in shapefile format.  GRID raster image files are also available.

Landsat Imagery - satellite imagery obtained through NASA's Earth observation program.

Need Help?

Contact Ann Holstein if you need any GIS help or advice such as:

  • Starting your GIS project
  • Installing ESRI's ArcGIS software
  • FInding and processing data 
  • Troubleshooting errors
  • Scheduling or registering for a training session

You may send questions via email or make an appointment for a consultation.