New collaborative methods in (re)presenting historical geography

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  • Maps@NYPL: New collaborative methods in (re)presenting historical geographyGood afternoon, my name is Matt Knutzen. I am the Geospatial Librarian at the New York Public Library, where I oversee a collection of close to 500,000 maps as well as 25,000 books and atlases. I am also charged with developing our growing digital initiatives.
  • AcknowledgementsBefore I get started, I’d like to thank April Carlucci for inviting me to speak to your group. It was April’s capable shoes I came to the New York Public Library, nearly ten years ago  to fill, not long after she’d jumped the pond. And so, I suppose I owe you, April, at the very least, double gratitude, for, were it not for your departure, I would neither be here now, nor would I have the job I do.I’d also like to thank the Map Curator’s Group for hosting this event and having me here. It's groups like these that offer us, as peers, insights into one anothers’ worlds, allowing us to compare notes, learn of both innovative and long held best practices. We come away, at least this is my experience, inspired, energized, and perhaps with a future collaborator or two.
  • IntroductionThe geospatial turn in the humanities represents a facet, perhaps of a larger, parallel societal shift in consciousness; an enhanced awareness and appreciation of geography, of place, and of the local. In a positive feedback loop with this shift is the rise and near ubiquity of web map applications and increasingly, web based analytical mapping tools, once the exclusive domain of GIS professionals.These shifts radically altered map libraries, where many traditional functions have been superseded; from way-finding to locating places and now, to answering ever more complex questions such as, “how do I get to here from there using local roads, on a bicycle?” Meanwhile, map libraries push heavily used historical map collections to the web for consumption by a wider, virtual public.Most basic geographic information seeking habits and a sampling of digital map images are now satisfied through the web. This might appear as the death knell of the map library were it not for the emergence of the following: Participatory GIS; the mashup/remix cultural zeitgeist and its enabling web infrastructure; and extensive open source software libraries designed to deliver, describe, rework, add value to and present maps on the web.Given this context, the New York Public Library, in partnership with EntropyFreeLLC, and  now Stanford University and Stamen Design, developed http://maps.nypl.org, an open source, web based, georectification and vector data tracing toolkit.  This talk will demonstrate the use of the toolkit, outline how it is currently being used to address the research needs of today’s patron, describe possible future use cases both within and outside of map libraries and finally look to future directions of consortial software development.
  • Foundations: Not the Digital
    But first, before talking at great length about our growing digital activities and web presence, is critical to recognize and acknowledge the decades of institutional work and support makes this work even possible, like the foundation of a house.
    Description and Cataloging
    Physical stewardship
    >>>Collections Moves
    Conservation & Preservation
    >>>Muslin Backs
    >>>Glazing
    >>>Silk covering
    >>>Disbinding atlases
    >>>Rebinding atlases
  • American Shores: Maps of the Middle Atlantic Region to 1850Funding: National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and AccessBackground: Representative of the NYPL Map Division’s first foray into the web. This project came about because of gift of the Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection (1500 maps, atlases and globes), mandating the cataloging, preservation encapsulation, digitization and ultimately, the creation of a website to serve the collection.Web Address:http://legacy.www.nypl.org/research/midatlantic/
  • Building a Globally Distributed Historical Sheet Map Set: Austria Hungary 1:75,000Funding: Institute for Museum and Library ServicesPartners: University of Connecticut, Storrs, American Geographical SocietyBackground: This partnership, led by the University of Connecticut, aimed to scan, georectify, create metadata for and avail to the web, three collections of the Austria Hungary topographic map set at a scale of 1:75,000 published in various editions between 1877 and 1914.Web Address:http://imlsmap.lib.uconn.edu/
  • Early Fire Insurance Atlases: William Perris Atlases of New York CityFunding:The Metropolitan New York Library Council Background:This project provided the core of digitized images for our most heavily used map collection, the New York City fire insurance and property maps. The project funded digitization of William Perris’ Maps of the City of New York and Maps of the City of Brooklyn. This initial set of 250 or so maps is the earliest to document New York City at a large scale, typically 1” to 50’ or 60’Web Address:http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/explore/dgexplore.cfm?col_id=442
  • maps.nypl.orgFunding: A variety of NYPL resources built this toolkit, from collections to Educational funding, from a general digital budget to a bit of outside funding.Background: As part of a strategic, long-term plan to extend the reach and utility of its digitized map content, NYPL contracted with EntropyFree LLC, a geospatial software design firm, to build an open source web map server as well as georectification and vector tracing tools. The tools allow staff and external users to transform the digital map collections: first, into comprehensive digital historical atlases (as map mosaic images) and then into digital map data. These lightweight mapping tools are easy to use with very little training, unlike a sophisticated GIS application, which typically require extensive training on steep learning curves. Once maps have been digitized within the established NYPL workflow, the georectification tool enables users to georectify or electronically “stretch” historic maps over a contemporary base map (see illustration below). The georectified maps are then available from the web map server on the NYPL website and exported as Web Map Service (WMS) layers accessible using desktop GIS software or as layers in Google Earth.Completion of the initial web map server in late 2008 dovetailed with a pilot crowdsourcing project by which students georectified maps using ArcGIS training and georectified close to 800 of NYPL’s historic New York City property maps. These maps are the first set of maps that project staff will be repurposing as GIS data layers using the vector tracing tool described in detail below.The result of these crowdsourcing activities is available in a Google Maps-like interface with historical map images “stretched” and draped over a contemporary map. The interface has functionality users have come to expect such as pan-and-zoom as well as a transparency and a soon to be enabled time control, allowing the user to fade the historical image in and out of vision and scroll through maps of the same location through time.
  • New York City Historical GISFunding: National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and AccessBackground: Drawing on our experiences developing maps.nypl.org and leveraging the content we had repurposed thus far, we applied and were awarded a three year grant from the NEH to scan, georectify and trace building structures from historical maps of New York City.At the foundation of this project is the questions we’ve been asking ourselves as we’ve built a corpus of map materials for the past decade...“what’s next?”“what do we do with all this stuff besides simply serve it to the public on the web?”and"how best can we extend the reach as well as the research value of these maps to our users?"Web Address:http://www.neh.gov/grants/guidelines/HCRRsamples/NYPL_GIS.pdfhttp://maps.nypl.org
  • ScanningThrough 2010 we've digitized more than 10,000 maps (3,400 of NYC)By 2013 we'll add 8,000 through the first phase of the NYC Historical GIS project.Total Digitized maps of NYC will number 12,000... most documenting the city to the building level.
  • GeorectifyThe project also calls for georectification of a subset of 2000 of those maps to be disseminated by the NYPL as a web map service layer. This enables users to import this historic map images into powerful GIS applications as well as curatorial spaces such as HyperCities and Neatline.
  • TracingThe final phase of the NYC Historical GIS project calls for the tracing of built structures as vectorized geospatial data, exportable in shapefile, csv, or kml file formats.The application is web based and allows outside users to create an account, log in, and contribute to the work.
  • Enabling Geospatial StudyWith this in mind and with a public service mandate, the NYPL has embarked on a plan to use the mapping toolkit and historical maps to develop new collaborative models; with scholars and students who utilize spatial methodologies including but not limited to historians, urban archaeologists, artists, architects, historic preservationists, environmental conservationists, landscape ecologists, and a growing list of interdisciplinary knowledge seekers.The toolset we’ve marshalled through four stages of development canLower East Side Tenement Museum & Fairfield University We have partnered, using our toolkit and collections, particularly our 1916 maps of city showing basements converted and used for businesses, including saloons for their forthcoming exhibition on the transformation of the Lower East Side.LESTM building a Saloon Exhibition. They are compiling detailed histories of each building along their block. Fairfield University Sociology student interns are compiling tabular census data for each of the building. NYPL interns are georectifying and tracing the spatial data structure to hold all the data. Data will be passed off to digital exhibition designer. Hopefully the methodology for this type of collaborative work will be one of the even greater outcomes.
  • Visualization and Linking DataOnce we’ve created a data layer of historical building structures, they can be used as the backbone for visualizing any kind of data that has a geographic referent.In this example, we have the Lower East Side of Manhattan island depicted
  • Visualization and Linking DataOnce we’ve created a data layer of historical building structures, they can be used as the backbone for visualizing any kind of data that has a geographic referent.In this example, we have the Lower East Side of Manhattan island depicted
  • New collaborative methods in (re)presenting historical geography

    1. 1. Maps@NYPL: New collaborative methods in (re)presenting historical geography Map Curators Group September 08,2010
    2. 2. Acknowledgements
    3. 3. Introduction
    4. 4. Foundations: Not the Digital
    5. 5. Foundations: Digital Projects Curated digital content
    6. 6. Foundations: Digital Projects Curated digital content New model for institutional collaboration
    7. 7. Foundations: Digital Projects Curated digital content New model for institutional collaboration More content, most heavily used
    8. 8. Foundations: Digital Projects Curated digital content New model for institutional collaboration More content, most heavily used New methods for public collaboration
    9. 9. maps.nypl.org New York City Historical GIS May 2010 - April 2013
    10. 10. maps.nypl.org New York City Historical GIS May 2010 - April 2013 Scanning 7,200 maps of New York City
    11. 11. maps.nypl.org New York City Historical GIS May 2010 - April 2013 Scanning 7,200 maps of New York City Georectifying 2,000 of those maps
    12. 12. maps.nypl.org New York City Historical GIS May 2010 - April 2013 Scanning 7,200 maps of New York City Georectifying 2,000 of those maps Tracing buildings from 1,000 of those maps
    13. 13. maps.nypl.org Why do all of this?
    14. 14. maps.nypl.org Visualization and Linking Data
    15. 15. maps.nypl.org Visualization and Linking Data
    16. 16. maps.nypl.org Visualization and Linking Data
    17. 17. maps.nypl.org Visualization and Linking Data
    18. 18. maps.nypl.org Visualization and Linking Data
    19. 19. maps.nypl.org What's on the horizon for maps.nypl.org? Long term strategy for maps
    20. 20. maps.nypl.org What's on the horizon for maps.nypl.org? Long term strategy for maps Enabling geocoding module in drupal If this doesn't exist, build one
    21. 21. maps.nypl.org What's on the horizon for maps.nypl.org? Long term strategy for maps Enabling geocoding module in drupal If this doesn't exist, build one Geocoding fedora objects
    22. 22. maps.nypl.org What's on the horizon for maps.nypl.org? Long term strategy for maps Enabling geocoding module in drupal If this doesn't exist, build one Geocoding fedora objects Building historical map datasets, published as web services
    23. 23. maps.nypl.org What's on the horizon for maps.nypl.org? Long term strategy for maps Enabling geocoding module in drupal If this doesn't exist, build one Geocoding fedora objects Building historical map datasets, published as web services Building and running framework for creating historical geocoding
    24. 24. ?mknutzen@nypl.org maps.nypl.org

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