MAGIRT Webinars

Webinar Series

Starting in May of 2020, members of MAGIRT and the Western Association of Map Libraries (WAML) collaboratively began a webinar series, dubbed “Well, Isn’t That Spatial?” The webinars cover a broad array of topics, all hopefully of interest to map and geospatial information professionals. Typically, webinars consist of an approximately 30-minute talk with an additional 15 minutes for questions and answers. If you would like to propose a webinar (or know someone who would be a perfect presenter), please get in touch with Kevin Dyke.

Previous Webinars

The Mapping Prejudice "Deed Machine" (Friday, April 28, 2023)

Mapping Prejudice technical lead Michael Corey demonstrated how a new, cloud-hosted web application has the potential to supercharge the process of mapping racial covenants, clauses that were inserted in the property record to keep people who were not White from buying or occupying certain pieces of land. Mapping Prejudice broke a long-standing research logjam when it devised a new technological platform for creating comprehensive geospatial datasets of racial covenants. In Minneapolis–where the project began at the University of Minnesota Libraries–one common restriction stipulated that the "premises shall not at any time be conveyed, mortgaged or leased to any person or persons of Chinese, Japanese, Moorish, Turkish, Negro, Mongolian or African blood or descent." There are millions of these racist restrictions on properties across the country. But they have been extremely difficult to document since they are buried in millions of pages of documents held by county recorders around the country, and difficult to map because historic property records are not connected to modern systems.

Since 2016, the project team has been working steadily to refine its methodology, which involves Optical Character Recognition, Python scripts, crowdsourcing through Zooniverse, and automated strategies for connecting racial restrictions on historic property parcels to the modern street grid. But over the last year, the team achieved a major breakthrough when it bound these tools together in what we now call the “Deed Machine,” a cloud-hosted web application that knits together these disparate technical workflows and leverages the power of parallel computing. Corey will share the insights from this iterative process of technical experimentation. He will also explain the exciting possibilities opened up by the Deed Machine, which has the potential to help researchers across the country locate racial restrictions quickly and accurately.

Image analysis in the cloud: Introducing ArcGIS Image for ArcGIS Online (ESRI WORKSHOP) - Wednesday, November 8, 2022

ArcGIS Image for ArcGIS Online is an Esri Software as a Service (SaaS) offering that provides capabilities for hosting, analyzing, and streaming imagery in the cloud. Join this hands-on workshop to learn how to get started using ArcGIS Image for ArcGIS Online. We will cover the workflow from uploading the imagery, visualization, and analysis using ready-to-use tools, raster functions and raster templates. Note that the format of this event is a hands-on workshop.

Big Ten Academic Alliance Geospatial Data Project -- Friday, July 9, 2021

The BigTen Academic Alliance Geospatial Data Project is collectively managed by librarians and geospatial specialists at thirteen research institutions across the BigTen Academic Alliance. The most visible output of the project is the BTAAGeoportal, which connects users to digital geospatial resources, including GIS datasets, web services, and digitized historical maps from multiple data clearinghouses and library catalogs. Aside from the Geoportal, the project contributes to the Big Ten Academic Alliance by sharing expertise, leveraging campus resources, and collaborating on innovative programs, including metadata improvement, software application development, efforts to diversify and enhance geospatial data collections, targeted improvements to outreach and teaching, and providing a robust, user-tested search environment. This talk will describe the efforts of the project team to meet these needs through innovation and collaboration across the geographies of the BTAA.


Melinda Kernik - Spatial Data Analyst & Curator - University of Minnesota

Karen Majewicz - Geospatial Project Manager & Metadata Coordinator - University of Minnesota

Ryan Mattke Map & Geospatial Information Librarian - University of Minnesota

Theresa Quill - Map and Spatial Data Librarian - Indiana University Bloomington

Joshua Sadvari - Geospatial Information Librarian - The Ohio State University

Nicole Scholtz - Spatial and Numeric Data Librarian - University of Michigan

Cecilia Smith - GIS and Maps Librarian - University of Chicago

Mapping Prejudice -- Friday, October 23, 2020 (2pm EDT / 11am PDT)

Our speaker was Ryan Mattke of the University of Minnesota.

Mapping Prejudice is mobilizing people of all ages and backgrounds to map racial covenants. Racial covenants are legal clauses in property deeds that barred people who were not white from buying or even occupying certain parcels of land. The project has developed an innovative methodology to map these covenants while catalyzing community conversations. The result is a digital, interactive map. The process of making that map ‒ and the dataset that undergirds it ‒ has proven a powerful vehicle for social change. Those who contribute to the map are forced to confront structural racism. Covenants are irrefutable examples of racially discriminatory practices. Engagement with these documents drives participants to identify systems-level solutions to contemporary housing problems. In addition to this mobilization, the map and the dataset are invaluable resources for policymakers and researchers who want to demonstrate how structural racism perpetuates inequalities. This talk described the project and its methods, cartographic and otherwise, and the social progress made, so far, toward a more honest future.

Learn more about the Mapping Prejudice project at its website:

About the speaker: Ryan Mattke is the Map & Geospatial Information Librarian and Head of the John R. Borchert Map Library at the University of Minnesota, as well as Adjunct Faculty in the Masters of Geographic Information Science program, where he teaches a graduate class on Spatial Digital Humanities. In addition, he is the Project Lead for the Big Ten Academic Alliance Geospatial Data Project and one of the co-founders of the Mapping Prejudice Project.

Lessons Learned from the JHU Global COVID-19 Map: Best Practices for Public GIS Projects -- August 14, 2020

The recording for this webinar is not available at this time.

Our speakers were Mara Blake and Reina Murray from Johns Hopkins University Library. Mara Blake leads the data services team in the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins University (JHU), which provides services that help students, faculty, and researchers find, use, visualize, manage, and share data. Reina Murray is the geospatial data curator and applications administrator in the Sheridan Libraries of JHU. She curates geospatial data and supports research and instruction using geospatial technologies.

The JHU Global COVID-19 dashboard started in January 2020 as a small project with a graduate student and faculty member from the Center for System Science and Engineering and grew to serve as a global resource during the pandemic. The JHU Sheridan Libraries joined the team early on, and balanced supporting the project with managing the ESRI educational site license and supporting the use of GIS for students, faculty, and staff. Based on experiences with the JHU Global COVID-19 Dashboard, the talk presented recommendations for those administering an ESRI Education Site License and supporting users of GIS to successfully develop and maintain public-facing GIS projects.

Illinois Census 2020: Map The Count - a MAGIRT/WAML Webinar -- Friday, June 12, 2020

Our speakers were Moira Zellner and Dean Massey of the Urban Data Visualization Lab (UDVL) at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). Zellner is Director of the UDVL and an Associate Professor of Urban Policy and Planning. Massey is a Visiting Research Specialist at UIC's Institute for Environmental Science and Policy.

Map the Count is an ongoing collaboration with the Illinois Department Human Services until December 2020. The Urban Data Visualization Lab team simulates models and designs and implements a web-based tool which enables Census 2020 Regional Intermediaries to assess how their engagement activities could change the 2020 Response Rate.

Learn more about the project at its website,

Census 2020 - Modernizing the Census Taking Process -- May 15, 2020

For the inaugural webinar of our new series, we were joined by Deirdre Dalpiaz Bishop, Chief of the Geographic Division of the United States Census Bureau. Her presentation shares the ways in which the Census Bureau modernized the decennial census taking process, with a focus on the comprehensive national address list and associated geospatial database, self-response and non-response follow up phases, and data tabulation and dissemination.

View the recorded webinar or the slide deck using the links below.

Powerpoint Slides