New York Public Library: “Unbinding the Atlas: Working with Digital Maps”

Posted on January 10, 2012 by

From an Informative and Educational NYPL Blog Post by Matt Knutzen:

The NYPL has now scanned nearly all of our public domain New York City atlases (a collection of now more than 10,000 maps, the wonderfully graphical title page at left is from a recently scanned Sanborn atlas of Staten Island) and built a web tool (blog post announcement) where users both inside and outside the library can virtually stretch old maps onto a digital model of the world à la Google Maps or OpenStreetMap, thus creating a new copy that is not only aligned with spatial coordinates on the Earth, but normalized across the entire archive of old maps. And once we’ve done that, we can walk this digital spatial object through a workflow, adding useful information and context with each step. All of this is done collaboratively, through the piecemeal efforts of staff, volunteers, and interns, a group of roughly 1,500 participants worldwide.

Knutzen continues with a, “sketch outline of the processes we perform on maps to recontextualize them as spatial digital objects.”

Map warping, map cropping, and map tracing are discussed (with links to learn more) along with some comments about the implications and ramifications of the technology.

A must read post for those interested in learning more about online maps.

Read the Complete Blog Post