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ArcGIS: Starting Out and Getting Help

Where to Find ArcGIS 10

(1) The Brandaleone Family Center for Data and GIS Services is in Bostock Library, on the first floor (The/Edge). (2) OIT computer labs on the Duke campus with computers running Windows. (3) Duke University students and faculty/staff can get a free copy to use as long as they are affiliated with Duke.


It's advisable to manage your data inside a geodatabase. You can set one up with a few mouse clicks.

Sample Data

Sample data and session outlines:

Check for upcoming sessions for Perkins Library ArcGIS workshops.

Feedback Form: Help us improve future workshops!


Documentation and Tutorials

Training Seminars and Web Courses


1. Web browser:  Online help from Esri.

2. Within ArcGIS: Pull down the Help menu or press the F1 key to access local on-line help in the Windows Help interface.

3. Windows Start Menu: Access Help directly from a choice in the ArcGIS folder (without opening ArcGIS first).


1. Web browser: Tutorial instructions from the Esri website.

2. Within ArcGIS Help (see left column): expand "Essentials Library" and then "Getting Started with ArcGIS Desktop.”

Tutorial Data

Duke affiliates only can download ver. 9.3 tutorial data (one tutorial at a time as .zip files) when needed. We're in the process of making the ver. 10.1 data available (summer 2013).

3rd Party Tutorials

ArcGIS Introductory Tutorial, University of Arkansas Libraries: A nice intro for social science users, focusing on vector data, but getting dated (based on v. 9.2).

Introduction to GIS and Census Mapping Tutorials using Census data, from Baruch College, CUNY. This has been used with the Duke SSRI classes. The related blog has a lot of useful tips relating to GIS software.

Up and Running with ArcGIS is a 3 hour online tutorial for beginners from (Duke users only)

Training Seminars

Recorded training seminars from Esri cover specific topics.  These are free, and typically are recordings of 1-hour webinars.

Training Videos

These free videos are typically just a few minutes long, and cover a range of specific how-to topics for ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS online, and for several of the desktop extensions and special applications.

Web Courses (Esri Virtual Campus)

(Duke affiliates only)

These online courses (which don’t require separate data) provide training in a wide variety of ArcGIS applications (more in-depth than Training Seminars; more choices than tutorials).

Searchable interface to Web Courses. 

To obtain the access code and instructions to use any of them, you must be a Duke University affiliate and must first contact Peter Harrell with the request for the courses you need.  Tutorials consist of one or more 3-hour modules, and the time to take one is estimated from 3 hours up to 21 or more hours total, depending on the topic.

A selection of ArcGIS software manuals (examples below) are located on the bookshelves in the Data & GIS Services cluster (Perkins 226).

Second copies of most of these books are on Permanent Reserve at the Perkins Circulation Desk.  Check the catalog for availability.

GIS tutorial 1 : basic workbook

GIS tutorial 2 : spatial analysis workbook

GIS tutorial 3: advanced workbook

Getting to know ArcGIS desktop

Mastering ArcGIS

Modeling our world : the ESRI guide to geodatabase concepts

Lining up data in ArcGIS : a guide to map projections
(software manual)

Understanding Map Projections (general conceptual guide)

Web GIS : principles and applications

The GIS 20 : essential skills

Some books include tutorial data on a DVD/CD, which can be temporarily installed on the D: drive or in your "my documents" space on computers in Perkins 226.

Subject Guide

Mark Thomas
233C Perkins Library
Website / Blog Page