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An Opportunity to get Your Maps on the Map!

November 5, 2020
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by Paige Andrew

The Guide to U.S. Map Resources, a published directory by the American Library Association’s former Map and Geography Round Table (MAGERT), now the Map and Geospatial Information Round Table (MAGIRT), is a detailed source of hundreds of map/cartographic resources collections in libraries and similar repositories throughout the country. This reference resource was last published in its third edition in book form in 2006 with Christopher J.J. Thiry as editor and many regional editors pitching in to complete it. I was one of two regional editors covering the state of Pennsylvania at the time it was being organized and completed.

Naturally, one of the downsides of a physical directory is the lack of ability to keep changes/additions up to date, which was a major reason that a MAGIRT colleague of mine approached our Executive Board in fall 2015 with the idea to “do over”, this time online. Carol McAuliffe, Curator of the Map & Imagery Library at the University of Florida, formed a steering committee with five participants, including myself, to look into how this goal might be carried out. Soon thereafter we became a working group that put more than four years of effort into launching a brand new directory describing map collections across the United States.

I am pleased to announce that, with a changed name, an interactive online platform, and a method for anyone managing a map collection at any kind of institution to self-apply, the Online Guide to U.S. Map Collections launched in August. While the current number of entries for various map collections is small, recently recruited and trained “regional coordinators” are reaching out to map collections that were previously in the 2006 edition to get them to re-join and simultaneously scouring their assigned regions for additional entries for new institutions. We aim to grow the directory well past the 500+ entries that were in the 2006 edition so that researchers everywhere will have an at-the-touch-of-a-fingers tool to collections of maps and other cartographic resources near and far.

So, fellow CRD members, here is your chance to “join the club” as it were! To add your map collection’s information into the directory go to: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=87e0701cfadf44758917724cf43605b4&extent=-14695398.5106%2C2508383.194%2C-7063925.6066%2C7483516.491%2C102100 and you will find a map of North America scattered with icons of the locations of map collections currently established in the database. (if you click on one, information about the collection pops up) Look at the left Info Bar and note the “Take the Survey to Get on the Map!” sentence as there is a link there to a survey tool. Please note that the survey is 2-part, the first part is short and focused on contact information including an easy-to-use “Location” finder, but if you want to also let the world know how many maps you have, the subject strengths in the collection and so on continue on to the second part where indicated at the bottom. It’s your choice.

Pennsylvania was well-represented in the last edition of the Guide but nowhere close to being comprehensively covered. As you can imagine, nearly all of those earlier entries were for university/college collections, which we need to include this time around also but we really want to dig deeper and find even tiny map/atlas collections residing in local historical societies, museums or within a special library or similar. (Or, does your institution have a collection on campus but outside of your library? There are universities that still maintain department-owned collections out there so if you know of one or more of these reach out to them please!) With that in mind, even if your library/institution does not have a map collection of any kind please share the link above to the Guide, and details you’ve learned here, with anyone you know in your community that does, or might.

Meanwhile, would you be interested in actively participating in growing this resource tool as a member of the regional coordinator team? All you have to do is reach out to the Guide’s leaders via magirtonlineguide@gmail.com and they will happily welcome you, get you trained in required duties and the details of the process to garner new and old entries, and set you to work.

If our goals to successfully populate and greatly enlarge the number of entries in the directory for U.S.-based cartographic collections are achieved, we have already considered ranging outside of our boundaries to become an international resource. But first we need to make a 34-year-old reference source bigger, better, and well-known online.

Finally, if you have any questions at all about this Guide and the ongoing project please feel free to contact me at any time (pga2@psu.edu or 814-867-0786)

Paige Andrew

Cartographic Resources Cataloging Librarian

   Penn State University Libraries

Member, College and Research Division, and Technical Services Round Table of PaLA

Past member, Online Guide Resource Team and current Secretary, MAGIRT, ALA

One Comment leave one →
  1. pedro1900 permalink
    November 5, 2020 8:06 pm

    Alex,

    I just noticed something about the formatting of the blog. Unfortunately, the beginning of the text is on the same line as my name, is that something that can be fixed? Start the text two lines down?

    Paige ________________________________

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