Maps and views blog

2 posts from September 2014

29 September 2014

Maps Tag-a-thon Event

Maps are still hidden in amongst the million images on Flickr, and we want to find them!

You are invited to the British Library for a day-long digital maps tag-a-thon event on Friday 31 October. The main activity will be reviewing Library images in Flickr to identify those that are maps. Once we have the maps consolidated, they can be included in the next round of BL Georeferencer, which will place them to their geographic location, increasing findability and allowing overlays on modern mapping. Register to attend here!

BL Maps tagathon

Above is one example of what can be discovered. This map of Cerro de Pasco in Peru is from a 1868 book.  The volume was scanned and images released on Flickr; this one was tagged "map", and so was included in the last round of BL Georeferencer. Sure, that effort was successful, but it has been estimated that there are 10,000 more maps in Flickr that we do not know about! We need help finding them.

Participants do not need to possess technical knowledge, but rather an interest in historic maps and a desire to bring them to life digitally. We are lucky to have experienced wiki-editors who will be present on the day to edit the wiki, answer questions, and update our statistics online. (Jheald provides a explanation of the technical process he designed and how it will work.)

Other activities are planned for the day, including a visit to the Maps area, brief updates on digital activities, and a look at the Gothic exhibition. See the event details and full agenda and registration here.

This is a joint event sponsored by the British Library Labs project and supported by OpenStreetMap and Wikimedia UK. I hope to see plenty of map aficionados and BL Georeferencer participants there as well, and I encourage our Maps and Views blog readers to attend!


17 September 2014

Franklin's ship: whodunnit?

How coincidental that one of Sir John Franklin’s boats should be discovered in the Arctic at the same time as the British Library’s free exhibition ‘Lines in the Ice: Seeking the Northwest Passage‘ takes shape. The show opens in November, and we’re particularly delighted that one of the discoverers of the discoverer, marine archaeologist Ryan Harris, will be speaking at the Library in December.

Sir John Franklin is one of the most famous explorers to have attempted to find a way through over the top of Canada to Japan and China beyond. By 1845 there had been at least two and a half centuries of explorers similarly unsuccessfully attempting the same thing. But Franklin was a hero of the Napoleonic wars, and his status, the mystery, politics, and subsequent efforts to discover the truth have created a compelling narrative which continues to today with the present discovery. 

It could have been much simpler. Perhaps the Inuit who knew exactly what had happened and who communicated it at the time, could have been properly listened to.

Or for those who believe everything they see in maps, perhaps Gastaldi’s world map of 1561 has the answer, even illustrating the culprit.


Detail of Canada and the Arctic, from G. Gastaldi, Cosmographia Universalis et Exactissima iuxta postremam neotericorum traditio[n]em. Venice, 1561 [British Library maps C.18.n.1.]

'Lines in the ice: Seeking the Northwest Passage’ opens on 14 November.