A Journey through Geospatial Metadata in the Texas Data Repository

By: Ima Oduok, Digital Librarian

It’s GIS Day on Wednesday, November 15! To celebrate, we want to share a bit about a geospatial data project being worked on within the TDL community. 

The Geosteer project is a Python toolkit which allows users to transform their geospatial metadata for the Aardvark schema, allowing for better discoverability in GIS platforms.

screenshot of the Texas GeoData Portal homepage showing a scanned map of Panama in the center and links to search by Place or Subject in a column on the left side of the map

screenshot of the Texas GeoData Portal homepage, accessed November 9, 2023

GIS data is housed in a variety of repositories and in various formats, making discoverability challenging. Between June and October this year, I worked with Michael Shensky, Head of Research Data Services and Alexander Marden, GIS and Geospatial Data Coordinator, both at UT Libraries, to modify parts of the base Geosteer code. We focused on datasets housed in the Texas Data Repository (TDR), a dataverse instance hosted by TDL. Working in the Geosteer metadata crosswalk spreadsheet, I created a column of TDR metadata elements and matched them to their corresponding Aardvark element. After that, we started the long and on-going process of editing the Python code.

Using Dataverse APIs, the code downloads metadata for datasets with geospatial data. It then transforms the metadata into the Aardvark format using the crosswalk and saves to a new json file. The modified code still requires some refinement to ensure values appear in the correct fields after conversion. Capturing file-level metadata for datasets provides additional challenges due to the prevalence of compressed folders containing multiple file formats and the complexity of some geospatial-specific formats like shapefiles. 

Work on this project continues in the UT Libraries Research Data Services department and will be published on the TDL Github when ready for public use. If you are interested in this and other GIS work happening in the TDL community, please join the GIS Interest Group (GISIG) at one of their monthly meetings. You can find meeting information and download a calendar invite on the TDL Events Calendar.


scanned map of Texas

Image citation: Texas. General Land Office. Texas., map, 1957; Austin. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth193461/: accessed November 9, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas at Arlington Library.

This month the GISIG is focusing on the many GIS Day events going on locally and online. If you missed the TDL Pre-GIS Day Celebration, be sure to check out the recording!   

Find Texas GIS events hosted by our members and other geography loving organizations happening Nov. 10 – 15!

Posted in GIS Interest Group, TDL Blog, Texas Data Repository