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Cofrin Center for Biodiversity


Over the years, UW-Green Bay's desktop GIS users have expended a great deal of effort to obtain spatial databases for use in our work. Of course we've tried to store the data in a way that we can find it in case we need it again, but it can be very difficult to keep track of, especially when everyone is doing their own thing. In 2005, the Biodiversity Center authorized GIS Specialist, Mike Stiefvater, to develop a formal spatial data library.

Getting Started
We needed to come up with a system that was secure enough to preserve the integrity of our data holdings while making them readily retrievable by users. We established the following criteria for the design of our system:

  • The system must allow for orderly archiving of 100,000 spatial databases
  • Spatial databases can range in size from < 1mb to > 5gb
  • All current and future database formats must be accommodated
  • The system must not rely on file names for cataloging
  • The system must be transparent enough to be used by GIS novices
When we first started out our data archiving activities focused primarily on cataloging the data that has come our way in the course of University coursework and research. The majority of our holdings are focused on the Western Great Lakes region, but databases relevant to UW-Green Bay research in Panama and other parts of the world are also included.

Getting Ahead of Demand
After we were in business for a while we noticed that the speed with which a semester goes by is also a problem. Fourteen weeks is not enough time for a novice to put together a reasonable-quality project unless a significant portion of necessary reference data is already sitting on the shelf. We've identified some important database families that are served up on State and Federal FTP sites. We've systematically downloaded some items anticipating that they will be needed sooner or later. Examples include the Watershed Boundary Database aka WBD, orthoimagery from the National Agriculture Imagery Progam (NAIP) and SSURGO soil surveys. As of Summer 2013, about 24,000 spatial databases reside in the library.