The following is a guest post by Nina Feldman, a former intern with the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress and the American Association of Geographers. Nina is currently a senior at George Washington University, majoring in Environmental Science and GIS (Geographic Information Systems). She spoke of her inspirations and why she became a geographer at the recent Library of Congress’ GIS Day celebration. While interning, Nina worked with the research papers and personal archive of Roger Tomlinson.
For me, GIS was not a clear-cut choice, but more of a discovery process. As many of you know, GIS in its basic definition is a computer-based system that collects, analyzes, and distributes spatial data and information. However, to me it’s much more than that, it’s a collection of data that represents people’s lives, experiences and significance. Personally, I have always been a collector. Throughout my life, which isn’t really that long, I’m sure I had around 15 different collections. At age four, I started simple, with rocks that I found cool. At age nine, I moved to the more advanced Pokémon cards. At age 14, it was Russian nesting dolls with their exquisite patterns and colors. And finally, today, at age 20, it’s maps. Maps of places I’ve been, maps of places I want to go, maps that friends have given me from their own adventures and maps that I drew myself. At first, I just thought it was another phase of mine, I am a map collector now, soon I’ll move on to something else, or maybe even go back to rocks. But as I watched my wall of maps grow along with my desire to learn, I had a feeling that this wasn’t just a phase.