Monthly Archives: April 2011

World Bank Apps for iPhone and iPad


The World Bank has launched a series of apps for the iPhone and iPad. There are four now, with more coming later this year — all free and available for download from iTunes:

World Bank Results at a Glance

World Bank Results at a Glance is a free app that highlights 450+ results profiles across more than 85 countries over the last decade. It includes projects profiles and data collected from projects in which the World Bank partnered with developing countries toward progress on one or more of the Millennium Development Goals, and projects that advanced sectoral or thematic work in core international development areas.


World Bank InfoFinder

Streamlined and to the point, World Bank InfoFinder . . .

  • Takes you to the most recent content available for six regions in a constantly refreshed feed
  • Explains the Access to Information Policy, including its purpose, the list of exceptions, the appeals process, multiple language versions of the policy, and more
  • Describes how and where to find content, including GIS mapping of Depository Libraries and Public Information Centers around the world
  • Plus Glossary, Request Form, Search, Favorites, and more


World Bank DataFinder

The free World Bank DataFinder app lets you access 50 years of World Bank data on global economic indicators, chart and visualize that data, and share those charts for use in your presentations, research, and projects. The DataFinder is perfect for students, professors, economists, researchers, and anyone looking to quickly access global economic indicators and trends.

In addition, you can . . .

  • Display charts with multiple countries and indicators
  • Easily switch between table, line and bar charts
  • Save reports to your Favorites
  • Share reports via email and CSV files


Doing Business at a Glance

Doing Business at a Glance draws on the data and information from the World Bank’s popular Flagship Doing Business which measures the ease of doing business according to business regulations in 183 economies. Once downloaded, this new free app offers portable access to the most recent rankings and data from 2010 and 2011 � without the need for an Internet connection.

Doing Business at a Glance lets you:

  • View the 2010 and 2011 rankings and indicators, along with business reform summaries for each economy
  • Compare 2010 and 2011 rankings and indicators from economy to economy or economy to region
  • Sort economies by their "ease of doing business" ranking or any of the other rankings and indicators
  • Read the complete published Doing Business 2010 and Doing Business 2011 reports



Sustainability Resources

Columbia University Libraries subscribes to two databases which have sustainability as their direct focus:

The Sustainability Reference Center, from EBSCO, provides content from over 800 journals, monographs, magazines and trade publications, all directly dealing with sustainability. This collection offers unmatched full-text coverage of information relevant to many areas integral to sustainability initiative management including, but not limited to:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Federal, State and Local Regulations
  • "Green" Issues & Initiatives
  • ISO 14000
  • LEED
  • Recycling
  • Renewable Energy
  • Resource Conservation
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Sustainable Business Practices
  • Waste Reduction


The Sustainability Science Abstracts database explores the management of human use and conservation of the natural resource base; coverage includes relevant papers, reports, books and reviews from standard peer-reviewed scientific journals. To ensure comprehensive coverage, material from conference proceedings and hard-to-find gray literature has also been summarized.

Major areas of coverage include:

  • Issues in Sustainable Development
  • Measuring Sustainable Development
  • Environmental Law, Conventions, & Policy
  • Sustainable Resource Base: Atmosphere; Land; Water and Biodiversity
  • Economic Paradigm
  • Economic Drivers
  • Sustainable Production
  • Sustainable Energy
  • Sustainable Transportation/Mobility

Digitizing, georeferencing, and creating new spatial layers workshop 4/22


mapThis week Friday Eric Glass will lead a workshop on digitizing, georeferencing, and creating new spatial layers. This will be the last GIS workshop of the semester.

He’ll give an introduction to techniques for creating new spatial layers from various sources, particularly georeferencing and digitizing from paper and imagery.

This will be a very practical, ArcGIS-centric workshop and will consist of a short lecture followed by individual hands-on exercises using ArcMap in the EDS lab.

An introductory level knowledge of ArcMap is required to attend.

Register for the workshop.

Public Papers of the Presidents — New Volume for Obama


On April 12, 2011, President Obama received the first book of the Public Papers of the President of the United States from his administration. The 1,084-page book was presented in navy blue binding* with gold stamping by Public Printer Bill Boarman, Archivist David Ferriero, and Director of the Federal Register Ray Mosley.

Compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Office of the Federal Register (OFR), the Public Papers of the Presidents contains the papers and speeches of the President that were issued by the Office of the Press Secretary during a specified time period.

Print copies of the Public Papers are available in Butler and Lehman libraries at:           J 80 .A283.




Using OpenStreetMap XML data


OpenStreetMap is a great resource mostly user created and maintained. The data is free of charge and there are several ways of accessing the data for use in a GIS project.

One of the easiest and quickest ways is to download data from CloudMade in shapefile format, but occasionally not all of the features shown in OpenStreetMap are available in the shapefile download.

An alternative is to download the OSM XML data, open it in QGIS, and if needed, export to shapefile.

To do this, open QGIS and under the Plugins menu, select Manage Plugins and turn on the OpenStreetMap plugin. If it’s not there then you will have to add it from Fetch Python Plugins.

The plugin allows for viewing downloaded OSM XML data, downloading large scale areas directly, and uploading edits you’ve made (account required).

Click on the Load OSM from file icon and navigate to the downloaded OSM XML layer.

Put a check mark next to the fields you want to create (these will only populate if the information is encoded). Keep a check mark next to Use custom renderer if you want to symbolize your data similar to the OSM scheme.

If you need to work with any of the features in shapefile format, right click on a layer and select Save vector layer as, and choose ESRI shapefile from the Format pull down menu if not already selected.

And that’s it!

Introduction to Cartographic Design 4/15

Next Friday 4/15 between 10:30am- 12:30pm, EDS will offer the Introduction to Cartographic Design a workshop led by Eric Glass GIS/Metadata Librarian.   This workshop is geared towards students taking introductory GIS courses who are in the process of producing project presentations and papers as the end of the semester approaches.  The two hour workshop will give an overview of some major cartographic concepts, including:

–        Communicating your message effectively
–        Creating clear, balanced layouts
–        Symbolization
–        Labeling
–        Use of color
–        Map elements

Registration is not limited to current students in GIS courses.  However, there is an expectation that attendees have had some level of exposure to GIS software, specifically the basics of working within the layout view in ArcMap as there will be a hands-on component working with ArcMap.

Registration is on the DSSC workshops page

Food Supply Resources


Food prices are increasing; a growing number of crops are used to produce energy, not for consumption; natural disasters create demand for food — where to find information about the food supply worldwide? These resources can help:

The International Food Policy Research Institute annually publishes the Global Hunger Index, which provides data and ranks 81 countries which have hunger problems to some degree.

The FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) averaged 230 points in March  2011, down  2.9 percent from its peak in February, but still 37 percent above March last year. International prices of oils and sugar contracted the most, followed by cereals. By contrast, dairy and meat prices were up.


The FAO also publishes the annual State of Food Insecurity in the World, which raises awareness about global hunger issues, discusses underlying causes of hunger and malnutrition and monitors progress towards hunger reduction targets.


The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture issues a monthly report, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), which provides USDA’s comprehensive forecasts of supply and demand for major U.S. and global crops and U.S. livestock.

UN Publications for E-book Readers


For easy access to offline reading and reference on global issues, download UN e-books apps or discover UN titles on Kindle, the iBookstore, Nook and Sony reader. Versions for each reader are available for numerous recent UN titles, such as: Yearbook of the United Nations, World Drug Report, E-Government Survey, The United Nations and Apartheid 1948-1994, and The World’s Women. Prices range from $1.50 to $12.99. Of course, regular PDF versions of most of the titles are also available for free. Check CLIO for links to the free versions. Also check out the Lehman Library subject guide on the United Nations for other UN-related resources.