Session Idea: From American Memory to David Rumsey and Beyond: Curating Maps Online

This is an action-oriented, idea-gathering session. I am interested exchanging notes with librarians, archivists, historians, technologists, and museum folks about the most innovative ways to curate a collection of old maps online. So I imagine that part of this session would be focused on gathering a list of the best sites currently out there and exchanging notes on what we like and don’t like about them: their organization, the features that they do or do not have, their audience and how they reach it. The other part would be taking a case study and planning an online exhibit for it.

The case study for this session is an online representation of Charles O. Paullin’s excellent Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States (1932). Apart from the significant set of decisions choices demanded by map curation in general, which we’ll discuss in some detail, atlases pose a number of questions to curators: how should users navigate the collection as a whole? Page by page or section by section? What is the relationship of map to text in an online environment? Does the online curation of an atlas such as this call for new introductory essays? The emphasis of this project is on innovation, so no idea is too crazy. And happily, this project will actually be built. So help us make it happen!