Map Librarians Are Real

Since I have no academic background in GIS or Geography (was all Physics), I've been skeptical about GIS or map librarians (such as mapz). To me, this position seemed a bit mythical -- like the jackalope or sasquatch. But then recently I met Celia Pratt, maps librarian at What's more, since I'm telecommuting to the AWMC's office on the 5th floor of the UNC library and working on the data model for a major reference work, I'm getting pretty close to map librarian territory myself. The intersection between Geography and the Humanities is a fine place to be.

The figure in the photo is not a map librarian.


Re: Map Librarians Are Real

Author: GeoMullah

"Yes Virginia, there are map librarians." Not very many, but if you're a GIS professional, cartographer, researcher, or map hacker it helps to know these people. Typically, they're well versed in sources, data types, and many tools. Unfortunately, map libraries can be on the bottom of a Library or Universities funding list. At many libraries, data is still in hardcopy form and the cost to turn the information into bits is time consuming and very expensive (due to labor.) Also, metadata capture, copyright, and indexing are big issues too. You may be able to look at a map, but you can't copy it and take it out. Or there are licensing issues with digital data the library may hold. Sticky wickets for everyone. Still, map libraries are great resources and it takes their users to support them. Using your map library can even help; useage is one metric that keeps them alive. Unfortunately, I've learned that some large universities have been closing or reducing their map libraries. Find your's and find out how you can help them. As a tip, I highly recommend the Maps & Geography Division of the Library of Congress. A great staff with an immense amount of information. They have current maps, complete series, a ton of historical maps (like ones hand drawn by Geo. Washington.) Whenever you're in DC, and you're a geogeek, check this place out.