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Library Research Guides

Geospatial Data

Subject guide to finding and using geospatial data. Includes tutorials for using elevation data to make contours, and using aerial imagery layers to output imagery even more efficiently than Google Earth Pro can.

Interactive Mapping Overview

Interactive mapping websites such as those listed at right are predominantly concerned with giving you control over what variables are mapped and how they are represented. Very high quality visualizations are usually not possible without exporting data to a format that can be used in a tool like ArcGIS Desktop.

Frequently Used Michigan Data Sources

Michigan Geographic Data Library (MIGDL)

Maintained by the state government of Michigan.

Start by theme (topic) or geographic extent (county, state, watershed or school district).

Files you download will be either .zip files or self-unpacking .exe files.

Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)

The Map Catalog section provides some GIS data for download. Some layers are only available as PDFs.

City of Ann Arbor

The City of Ann Arbor provides both interactive maps, static maps (PDFs) and spatial data resources from its Ann Arbor Geographic Information System (AAGIS).

Social Compact DrillDown

Interactive map that lets you look at lots of variables, including foreclosures by zip or census tract

U of M Matthaei Gardens Nichols Arboretum Maps and GIS Data

Downloadable reports and geospatial data for the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Nichols Arboretum, Horner Woods/McLaughlin Tract, and Mud Lake Bog areas.  

Interactive Mapping Services for SE Michigan

Social Compact DrillDown

Interactive map that lets you look at lots of variables, including foreclosures by zip or census tract

Interactive Mapping Services for the United States

The following websites provide interactive maps that can be exported or screengrabbed as static images (jpgs) or other formats, but not as vector illustrations. They also all provide data table downloads that can be joined to census shapefiles.

Social Explorer (library subscription)

The online program Social Explorer is the simplest method for creating a map of Census data. This program contains Census data from 1790 to the present, offers a fast and effective way to map data, and even allows for the simple creation of time-lapse slideshows of demographic variables. Social Explorer is available in both a free basic version, as well as a premium version available through MLibrary. See their help section for guides on creating maps.

American Factfinder (free and public)

American Factfinder has excellent mapping capabilities. The site can sometimes be slow or buggy, so be patient. You can control classification (breaks), colors, and transparency of the main variable you are mapping. You can also control what other information appears on the map, including adding labels, boundaries, and text callouts. Output options are varied, though no vector graphics output is available.

SimplyMap (library subscription)

For more complex maps, try using Simply Map, available through MLibrary. If you wish to save your work on Simply Map, it is necessary to create a log-in. Once on the website there are various Help topics and tutorial videos to assist you in creating your map.