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Abstract

At many academic libraries, library workers run the teaching, general reference consultations, technical troubleshooting, and software and licensing maintenance in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for their institutions. This is very much the case in the Data Services unit of Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries, where staff receive requests for help with a wide variety of mapping projects every semester. Sometimes they are straightforward requests for technical assistance, but sometimes they underpin much deeper investigations into how to situate people and significant events through time and geographic settings. This article discusses these types of requests in the context of the philosophical distinction between place and space, draws examples from real-world applications for synthesizing follow-up approaches in everyday work scenarios, and encourages further critical thinking about mapmaking itself.

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