Online Guide to U.S. Map Resources: Take the Survey—Get on the Map!

The Guide to U.S. Map Resources, produced by the American Library Association’s Map and Geography Round Table (MAGERT) in 1986, 1990, and 2006*, provides detailed directory information for map collections and cartographic resources in libraries and similar institutions throughout the United States. A decade has passed since the third edition was published, and there have been many changes in how libraries collect, preserve, provide access to, and administer maps and other cartographic resources. There is also yet another, newer, type of cartographic information to consider: geospatial data. In addition, there has been an explosion in the use of geospatial technologies, meaning the demand to find geospatial data for research needs is more prominent than ever.

In 2014, a project planning team of the Map and Geospatial Information Round Table’s (MAGIRT) Publications Committee was formed, consisting of Carol McAuliffe, from the University of Florida as the lead, Kathleen Weessies from Michigan State University, and Christine Kollen from the University of Arizona. The planning team was charged with investigating what process was used to create the last edition of the Guide and what improvements could be made; we were also tasked with developing recommendations on possible formats we might want to consider and identifying what would be needed to create a new edition. The planning team recommended the following:

  • Develop a new online version of the Guide to U.S. Map Resources
  • Populate the Guide with crowd-sourced information on U.S. map collections in libraries, archives, schools, and museums
  • Include a searchable map interface so collections can be found by geographic location
  • Include a searchable index to collections’ subject specialties using controlled vocabulary
  • Provide links to digital collections (including possibly incorporating the MAGIRT Scanning Registry, http://mapregistry.library.arizona.edu/)

MAGIRT’s Executive Board accepted the planning group’s recommendations and, in July 2016, the Online Guide to U.S. Map Resources implementation team was appointed—Carol McAuliffe, University of Florida, Christine Kollen, University of Arizona, Hallie Pritchett, University of Georgia, Paige Andrew, Pennsylvania State University, and Nicole Kong, Purdue University. The implementation team developed a survey to collect information and selected Google Forms for collecting data and administering the survey. One of the task force members, Nicole Kong, is developing an online platform with an interactive map interface in consultation with the MAGIRT Geographic Technologies (GeoTech) Committee. In addition, the implementation team is coordinating outreach and education about the Online Guide and developing a long-term sustainability plan. To give everyone an opportunity to see a prototype of the online edition and encourage more people to fill out information about their collections, they are planning to have a pilot (proof of concept) version of the Guide available at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois in June.

One of the exciting aspects of this edition is that even after we have officially released the Online Guide, we will be able to continuously accept new data on collections and update information found in the collection entries.

You may have already seen promotions about the Online Guide. Committee member Hallie Pritchett presented a poster session at the Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Library Conference in October 2016, providing those present with information about our project and encouraging those attending to fill out the Online Guide’s survey; all 100 of our postcards with a link to the survey were taken by attendees, and the Online Guide is beginning to take shape! We also presented poster sessions at the ALA Midwinter Conference in January 2017 at several GODORT and MAGIRT committee meetings, and email notices were sent to a variety of listservs, including govdocs-l, maps-l, rdap-l, and sts-l.

The survey is still open and can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/magirtsurvey. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can contact one of the task force members.

Christine Kollen (kollen@email.arizona.edu), Data Curation Librarian, University of Arizona


* Guide to U.S. Map Resources, Third Edition. Christopher J.J. Thiry, ed. Map and Geography Round Table of the American Library Association. Lanham, Maryland, Toronto, Oxford: Scarecrow, 2006.

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