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U.S. Census Bureau Maps and Cartographic Resources

BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION

U.S. Census Bureau. (2006, November 29). U.S. Census Bureau Maps and Cartographic Resources. Retrieved May 2 2007, from http://www.census.gov/geo/www/maps

PURPOSE

The purpose of this website is to offer links to all of the digital maps that are available for download or building from the Census Bureau, in relation to the decennial Census. The website was designed for any member of the public that is needing to create/locate maps that deal with the U.S. Census.

AUTHORITY

As the website is hosted by the Census Bureau (www.census.gov) and that the data is generated by the Census Bureau from the most recent Census (2000), the information is authoritative and primary. The sole job of the Census Bureau is to develop, collect, and repackage the data from each Census.

SCOPE

The maps are limited to dealing only with maps generated from Census data (population and congressional district boundaries, for example).

FORMAT

The maps that are available for download are linked from some of the sub-pages on this website (particularly from the Map Products link) and are available for download in PDF/GIF format.

ARRANGEMENT

The website and links page is a web of links, and somewhat difficult to navigate, but if one knows the type of information he/she is looking for (like a map dealing with the 108th Congressional District Map for District 1 in Alabama), you would go to the Map Products page, then keep clicking on links that deal with the 108th Congress until you find a breakdown of the congressional district maps by state and click on the District 1 link (PDF or GIF). Again, the links are kind of a convoluted web, but just the same, they are available for free. There is a sitemap available that might help in navigation of this resource.

ENTRIES

As was mentioned above, getting to the links that lead to the maps themselves is a complex process of browsing the website. One you get to a link is to a specific map, you have the option of downloading the map in GIF or PDF format (GIF=small file size; small map; PDF=large file size; large map). Some large forms of data are available to download in .ZIP format.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The availability of various maps with different contents that deal with the data gathered from the U.S. Census are some of the special features available with this resource.

USE

With the help of a librarian or teacher or professor who is already familiar with this website, the use of this website resource should not be too difficult. It all depends on what kind of map one needs that deals with Census data. If the map is a simple congressional district map, any user could probably locate the map and understand it. But if the user is needing maps that deal with more complex data (especially historic change maps), the user may need a librarian’s guidance to navigate and a professor’s guidance to understand the data included in the maps.

CRITIQUE

This is a good resource, except for the design flaws, in that way too much information is nested into several subpages. The resource would be much more easy to navigate and understand if the pages were more on the same level and organized in a different fashion. With that being said, however, the resource is still a good geographical resource to link to, as political science students may need quick access to congressional district breakdowns or other statistical data maps developed from Census data. More importantly, being able to download the maps in PDF or GIF format mean that the resource is completely free.

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