How Do I Find GIS Data?

Until further notice, access to the Map Library is limited to library staff only.

For access to many of our maps, aerial photographs, and other physical materials, please search for the item in Libraries search. Sign in and place a “Get It” request and you can pick up items at one of our four open buildings — Wilson, Walter, Health Sciences, and Magrath libraries — or have them delivered to your office or residence hall.

For access to non-circulating materials or for in-depth research assistance, please send an email to

While this list is not exhaustive , its goal is to identify and provide access to as wide a variety of online GIS data and resources as possible.


Framing Your Data Search

What geographic level are you trying to represent/analyze? What types of features do you need to represent?

For example,

  • Do you need to represent states, counties, cities (points or polygons), etc?
  • Do you need to see streets, water, elevation information?
  • Do you need parcel or ownership information?


Who would create this kind of data?


  • federal government (specific agency or branch?)
  • state government (specific branch or group?)
  • county government
  • city government
  • commercial entities
  • ??????


Would this type of data be publicly available or restricted in some way?


  • Could the information be restricted to protect someone from harm?
  • Might the information be restricted because of privacy issues?
  • Other restrictions?


What data formats are you willing/able to work with?

What kind of online tools might help you locate the data you need?


  • Data search tools.
  • Mapping tools that provide access to the data too.
  • Imagery search and or display tools.


GIS Data Web Sites

Web sites that consolidate many potential resources for locating GIS data at the world, national, state and local levels.

GIS Data

Selected web sites from the John R. Borchert Map Library.

Spatial Data at MIT

Browse the "on the web" links in the left hand navigation bar.

Websites for Digital GIS Data

Site from Stanford to help track down GIS data and imagery.

Specific GIS Search Tools


Federal Resources

Data site with a subset of federal data and geospatial data available. After the initial search, you can filter by data type (geospatial vs. non-geospatial).

National Map Seamless Server

U.S. and international data.

USDA Geospatial Data Gateway

Click on Get Data.

EPA Enviromapper


Minnesota State Level Resources


Data from various agencies for the state of Minnesota.

DNR Data Deli

Data from the Dept. of Natural Resources

Local Twin Cities Data

MetroGIS DataFinder Cafe

Twin Cities metro area data.

Minnesota and Twin Cities Online Mapping Tools & Aerial Imagery

Minnesota Historical Aerial Photography Online (MHAPO)


Other GIS Data providers


Geography Network


Citing GIS Data

Citing Geospatial Data Resources

Data Citation Guide