A GIS Server for ACS Partners?

(this page is basically historical --see a first draft of a proposal contrived in early Jan 2000
and see whither it has wandered by 3 March)
21 December 1999
Here's a bit of e-mail correspondence from this morning:
>>> "Robert S. Whyte"  12/20/99 10:49PM >>>

Barbara tells me you might have an interest in the GIS server? Let me
know what the potential is -- thanks!

Robert S. Whyte, Ph.D.                  "Unless someone like you
Director of Environmental Programs      cares a whole awful lot,
Associated Colleges of the South        nothing is going to get better.
1975 Century Blvd., NE Suite 10         It's not."

From: 	Hugh Blackmer
To:	Whyte, Robert S.
Date: 	12/21/99 10:15AM
Subject: 	Re: [ACS-GIS] gis conference call

Hi Bob,

Yes, I think we're very interested.  We're teetering on the brink of 
getting a T3 line (which would make serving to ACS partners much more 
practical), and I'm told that we could add 3 36G drives to our Miley 
server (the ACS graphics server --a lot cheaper than buying a whole new 
box) to give effective 72 G plus safety of RAID backup. The issues of 
acquiring and organizing data will probably necessitate a bunch of 
consulting with other institutions that run GIS servers, but that would 
be lots of fun

CC:	Blackburn, John;  Brown, Barbara;  Knudson, Jeff

We need to figure out just what the implications of this might be, including data acquisition, curation, distribution, interface, connection to Core initiatives, linkage with present and future course and program developments at ACS institutions... just for starters. I see the project as part and parcel of several things I've been working on, indeed as a means to make some of those things into realities.

We need to know a lot more than we do at present about how others have set up and run GIS servers, since there are some pretty distinctive problems (like gigantic files to be moved, what the search interface looks like [which is closely related to who the expected users are, and how much they can be presumed to know]...

We want to avoid unnecessary duplication, provide authoritative and well-documented sources for spatial metadata, coordinate the efforts to develop the pedagogical potentials of GIS, and so on... )

The Florida Data Directory seems an outstanding model.

We are building tomorrow's digital library, and helping users toward the Information Fluency skills they will need in an information landscape dominated by electronic access. The print-based library skills of searching and evaluation are as important as ever in the electronic environment, but a truly Fluent person must also have a command of appropriate tools for data analysis and information presentation.

Libraries, once custodians of print on paper, find themselves responsible for access to (and, often enough, user training in) an expanding range of digital information: images, sound, web documents, databases, GIS coverage, and the hardware and software to retrieve, display and manipulate these resources.

How big can we think as we imagine a GIS Server? It's arguable that an ACS effort with GIS needs a Center, but in fact not very much of that needs to be bricks-and-mortar or personnel or real estate. It's a virtual construct that happens to serve information from one point --but its community spreads from Texas to Florida to Virginia to Kentucky... A GIS Server could serve as a testbed for the evolution of electronic collaboration among ACS institutions. I suggest that such a Server would give us the capability to do several things:

Some links to Map Libraries with electronic facilities:
Some more general Digital Libraries materials:

Digital Libraries reading list (Samantha Hastings)

Digital Libraries and Projects of the University of Michigan ("The following are current libraries and projects of the University of Michigan developing the idea of a Digital Library. Some of these projects are just getting underway and are very incomplete.")

Berkeley Digital Library Project

NSF Digital Libraries Initiative

An Operational Social Science Digital Data Library (Harvard proposal, 1998)

Historic USGS Maps of New England (JPG images from University of New Hampshire)

Digital Atlas of Boston

Digital Atlas of California

Both of the above part of a larger project: Digital Atlas of the United States (William Bowen)

Massachusetts Coastal Orthophotos --I was able to zoom in to see Blairhaven ...