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Geography: Getting Started

What is Geography?

Geography is the study of the earth’s surface, including its physical, biological, and social systems. It is concerned with how people shape and in turn are shaped by the natural and ecological systems around them, how societies create landscapes and places, and the spatial distributions of many kinds of phenomena. The discipline seeks to describe and explain why different phenomena are located where they are and how their spatial patterns change over time.  - from Oxford Bibliographies Online 

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Interested in diving deeper?

Want to learn more about a subfield or related topic in geography? Try one of these!

Relevant Library Collections

Physical Geography

The Library's primary physical geography collections are housed in the Earth Sciences and Map Library, located in 50 McCone Hall.

The collection contains works on all aspects of physical geography, including evolution of the earth, atmospheric conditions, vegetation and climate, geomorphology, geologic structure and landforms, terrain studies, marine processes and coastal landforms, hydrology and fluvial processes, glaciers and glacial landscapes, erosion, landslides, soils, environmental issues, climatic change, and general works on the biosphere and ecology. Coverage is worldwide, including general works, textbooks, geographical reviews, publications by geographical associations, geography periodicals, and bibliographies.

The Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library contains geographical materials relating to the biosphere, ecology, conservation, agriculture, soils, and forestry.

The Water Resources Collections & Archives (previously housed at UC Berkeley, now at UC Riverside) collects technical information on freshwater, groundwater, coastal, estuaries and wetlands and contains many federal, state and local government reports as well as publications from other Water Resources Centers.

Human Geography

Collections dealing with social, cultural, & other human geography topics may be found in the following library locations:

  • Doe Library's Main (Gardner) Stacks contains general works on cultural & political geography: monographs, textbooks, and serials. It also houses resources for census and demographic data.
  • The Environmental Design Library (210 Bauer Wurster Hall) has information dealing with regional and urban planning.
  • The Institute of Governmental Studies Library (109 Moses Hall) collects materials on public affairs and policy, focused primarily on the U.S., with special emphasis on California. The collection is especially strong in the areas of city planning and community development; housing; environmental policy; corrections and police administration; policy aspects of health, education and welfare; and civil liberties. The collection is also strong in the areas of municipal and regional government, intergovernmental relations, public finance and taxation, civil service and public personnel management, and practical politics and elections.
  • The Institute of Transportation Studies Library (412 McLaughlin Hall) collects transportation related subjects and includes both foreign and U.S. publications on technical, environmental, socio-economic and policy aspects of transportation.