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ArcMap Desktop Introduction: Starting Out and Getting Help

Where to Find ArcGIS

(1) The Brandaleone Family Center for Data and Visualization Services is in Bostock Library, on the first floor (The/Edge). (2) Duke University students, faculty, and staff can get a free copy to install on their own computer as long as they are affiliated with Duke. * (3) OIT computer labs on the Duke campus with computers running Windows. (4) Virtual Computing Manager (VCM) from Duke's Office of Information Technology (OIT) allows Duke users to check out a virtual machine with ArcGIS installed and connect via a remote connection.


PointerGeodatabase:  Before beginning your ArcGIS project, consider the advantages of managing your data inside a geodatabase. You can set one up with a few mouse clicks.  Also, please see our blog post regarding the geodatabase structure versus working with separate shapefile layers.
  Windows only: ArcGIS runs only on Windows platforms. Users of Macs or other operating systems need to install virtual machine software to install ArcGIS in a Windows environment.  Another option is the open source GIS package Quantum GIS (QGIS), compiled for several platforms.


A selection of ArcGIS software manuals (examples below) are located on the bookshelves in The Brandaleone Family Center for Data and Visualization Services.

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 the DVS lab in The/Edge on the first floor of Bostock.

Documentation and Tutorials

1. On the web: 

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).


The data to use with them are included wiith the ArcGIS installation from OIT, or ask Data and Visualization Services staff for assistance. These tutorials refer to data in the default install location, which is C:ArcGIS\ArcTutor

1. On the Web: ArcGIS Desktop Tutorials can be found online. 

2. Within ArcGIS Desktop Help:
Open Help and then open ArcGIS Tutorials in the left column.

Tutorial Data

The 10.x utorial data is available as part of the OIT install package.

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.

Training Seminars and Web Courses

LinkedIn Learning (formerly

‚ÄčEsri: Free

The Esri Training Site has many different sorts of training videos and other resources. the search interface lets you limit to ArcGIS pro and the format of help that you want. Under E-Learning, the Training Seminars are typically 1-hour free webinars on more general topics. The Tutorials are also free resources, typically shorter and on more specific topics, and some of the shorter Videos are also free. There are also multi-week MOOCS,

Esri Training Site: Licensed

The Esri Training Site also has some resources that require "Esri Access" to be enabled through your ArcGIS Online account. Email (Duke ArcGIS Online administrators) to ask about this. Such licensed resources include, under the E-Learning format group, the Web Courses and the longer Videos.


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Mark Thomas
233C Perkins Library

Sample Data and Session Outlines

Check for upcoming sessions for Perkins Library ArcGIS workshops.
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