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British Library using crowd-sourcing to georeference old maps

Have you ever wished that you could digitally explore the beautiful maps hidden inside old books? The British Library has just made some dreams come true by releasing a new set of over 3,100 historic maps into their crowd-sourced georeferencing web application, the BL Georeferencer. The public - you! - can  use the online tool to overlay the historic maps on modern web maps. As the British Library says, what a great way to "compare the past with the present." Read more about the newly released images - scans of map illustrations from 17th, 18th, and 19th century books - at the British Library's own blog.

BL Georeferencer in action

Instructions for the BL Georeferencer - including a short video tutorial - are online at the georeferencer home page. You can also browse through maps that others have already georeferenced. In addition to viewing them online, the British Libray gives you the option of downloading the georeferenced image as either an ESRI World or Google Earth KMZ file.

Jul 09, 2014 | Categories: Events | spowell

Try new library website, get $15 FSM Cafe giftcard

Be the first to get a sneak peek at the new UC Berkeley Library website! We are looking for undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and lecturers to sit down with us for 30 minutes for user testing of the new website. Testing will take place at Doe Library. Volunteers get a $15 gift card to FSM Cafe in return for their time. If you are interested and are available between May 5 - May 9, please contact Lisa Ngo at

Apr 23, 2014 | Categories: Events | spowell

NACIS Student Mapping Competitions announced

The North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) recently announced two student mapping competitions with top prizes of $500. Winners will be announced at the NACIS annual meeting, this year in Pittsburgh, PA from October 8-11. In addition to the mapping competition, NACIS is also offering travel grants and memberships.

See the announcement below for details:

The North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) recognizes the important contributions students make to our field. To recognize some of their hard work and achievements, we offer two fantastic student competitions each year at our annual conference (this year October 8-11 in Pittsburgh, PA). All students currently enrolled in a certificate program, undergraduate, or graduate/post-graduate program are eligible to enter, as long as they have not previously won top prize in either competition.

Student Dynamic Map Competition: The North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) recognizes the importance of dynamic mapping in cartography. We are sponsoring the 15th Annual Student Dynamic Map Competition to promote cartographic excellence and innovation in this versatile medium. A first prize of $500 will be awarded in each category. Deadline for submissions is September 12th. To view the rules and prizes, please visit


Student Map and Poster Competition: Students who would like to display their works at NACIS 2014 should register for the Student Map and Poster Competition. We encourage all students to submit their maps and technical/research posters for a chance at a prize of $500! There is no entry fee. All entrants will be displayed in the Map Gallery, and the winner will be selected by a ballot of all meeting attendees. The deadline to register is September 12th, 2014. For more information, please visit


Travel Grants and Memberships: As an organization (and as former students ourselves), we?re aware that student budgets don?t often allow for extras like conference attendance or organizational memberships. Each year, NACIS offers up to 10 free memberships to undergraduate students, as well as offering a number of travel grants to students wishing to attend the annual conference. To find out more, please visit

Apr 01, 2014 | Categories: News & Updates | spowell

GeoScienceWorld now available

UC Berkeley now has access to GeoScienceWorld, an online collection of over 40 peer-reviewed journals from a variety of geosciences publishers including the following:

  • American Association of Petroleum Geologists
  • Clay Minerals Society
  • Geological Society of America
  • Geological Society of London
  • Mineralogical Society of America
  • Paleontological Society
  • Seismological Society of America
  • Society for Sedimentary Geology
  • Society of Exploration Geophysicists

This database of full-text journals is integrated with GeoRef to allow searching across citations and abstracts from additional journals and conference in the geosciences.

Mar 10, 2014 | Categories: New Acquisitions | bquigley

Bringing a Historic Atlas New Life: "Atlas of the Historical Geography of the US"

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the US cover

For centuries atlases have provided rich information about the world: maps, charts, and text densely packed into physical volumes. More recently, online mapping sites like Google Maps and MapQuest have made the exploration of geography common place again. The "Atlas of the Historical Geography of the US" from the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond has transformed an actual physical atlas into a multi-faceted digital presentation.

In this re-fashioned atlas, the authors have transformed the static, flat pages of the physical atlas into georectified, interactive maps. You can zoom in on a certain area just as you would in modern online map viewers, and even see underlying geography. Supplementary information -- including a legend, explanatory text, and the atlas' table of contents -- add to the richness of understanding and exploring the maps (and can all be turned on or off to suit your preferences). The authors have also included the nice feature of having the option to view the original plates in their un-georectified form, which can be nice for getting a sense for how the original atlas was presented.

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the US overview

One especially fun feature of this enlivened atlas comes through in certain interactive pages. The creators have worked in data behind the scenes, so that you get additional information by interacting with certain pages, such as a series of maps that show rates of travel to New York City for different years. When you hover over the map, the page returns the time, distance, and travel rate for that location.

Inset of travel times to NYC

Other maps have been enhanced with animations, essentially virtual flipbooks that page through sequential maps for you. The series of maps depicting the location of colonial towns is a good example of this. The expansion of settlements into Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire between 1750 and 1775 becomes incredibly stark (especially when compared to Connecticut).

Every time I open up the atlas I discover something new. From reproductions of historic cartography to maps of the cotton spinning industry and diminishing land holdings of Native Americans, the original, physical atlas held a treasure-trove of information. The team at the University of Richmond has brought these static plates new life in the digital age. Have fun exploring!

Inset of historic map of California

Feb 27, 2014 | Categories: Trivia, Web resources | spowell

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