If you’re researching for a Geography class at WCC, you’re probably looking for information about places, or looking for maps. Read below for some tips on where to begin and how to go about it.
The academic discipline of geography is split into two main sub-areas: physical geography, and human geography.
- Physical geography looks at the natural world from a spatial perspective.
- Human geography looks at humans and human culture from a spatial perspective.
Physical geography in practice looks a lot like natural science, while human geography in practice looks a lot like humanities (anthropology, sociology, political science, economics, etc.). The key difference is the use of a spatial perspective in the questions and analyses.
Cartography is also generally found in geography — it’s the study of and creation of maps, informed by the study of graphic design and human perception and cognition.
In recent years Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have been added to the geographer’s repertoire. GIS uses computers as a tool for analyzing spatial data. GIS data can also be used in cartography.
Call Numbers & Subject Headings
If you just want to look on the shelves for items about geography, look for call numbers beginning with just the letter G.
For books about the history of a place you have to look in the big section from D to F. That whole section is History, but subdivided by regions and countries.
For advice on finding maps, see our Maps & Atlases Guide.
We have a couple dictionaries of geography in print:
- A Dictionary of Geography. Ref. Coll. G63.M39 2009 [for terms in academic geography]
- Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary. Ref. Coll. G103.5.W42 1997 [for names of places]
The Credo Reference database also has Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary (the 2007 edition), plus The Houghton Mifflin Dictionary of Geography, The Dictionary of Human Geography, The Dictionary of Physical Geography, and several other geography-related books. Definitely check it out — the online versions are harder to browse, but much easier to search.
WCC Library does not subscribe to any geography-specific databases.
Other databases may be of use, though.
The Credo Reference database includes several geography-related reference books.
For articles on geography, start with these general, interdisciplinary databases:
This reference database has some geography and cultural information, and includes some maps:
General encyclopedias like Encyclopedia Britannica have articles about places. We have it in print at AE 5, and online:
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
To see what books we have, browse in the Stacks for items with call numbers beginning with G70.2.
For information on the internet, search for ‘GIS’ or ‘Geographic Information Systems’ at your favorite online search engine.
See the University of Wisconsin Geography Library’s Overview of Geography: Websites for links to geography-related websites.