THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Maps and views blog

17 posts categorized "Website"

21 February 2014

Historic maps in the public domain

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Maps contained within the pages of 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century books are still being unearthed. Of the one million images that the Library extracted from scanned volumes and explosed on Flickr Commons, over 2,100 have already been tagged as maps by the public!

As these map images are in the public domain and so open for reuse, we've seen new interpretations, further exposure, and interesting geospatial applications. For instance, John Leighton's 1895 diagrammatic map of London Indexed in Two-Mile Hexagons has been brought up to date and into space in this dynamic visualisation created for International Open Data Day tomorrow in Osaka City, Japan. Though I've been warned that this is a work-in-progress, it is impressive already; the newly geo-aware index is interactively linked to its 18 component hexagonal maps, with the current location in OpenStreetMap appearing alongside. Ollie described the purpose of Leighton's mapping scheme in his Mapping London blog post in December. The results of making these maps available just keep getting better.

 Hexagon map images - web

Work-in-progress at http://museum-media.jp/london/
Hexagon map images - web2

Leighton's index map, the 18 component maps, and other images from the book

Here at the Library we're anticipating opening up the 2,100+ maps for public georeferencing. Once all of the one million images get tagged with keywords in Flickr, those identified as maps will be consolidated and released via BL Georeferencer. Please lend a hand by finding and tagging any maps among the remaining images! 

23 December 2013

What are these bits of maps?

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Georeferencing the Library's Goad plans of British and Irish towns is progressing well.  I've been asked several times, however, about the miniscule slices of maps that we're asking you to place. What are these obscure and tiny pieces of maps, and how to tell where they are located?Goad - bit of mapPieces such as above are portions of original paper map sheets as published by Chas. E. Goad Ltd. When a block or other important area extended beyond the bounds of the page, it was simply printed elsewhere on the sheet, with a reference to its location. This was done for reasons of economy; key areas could be included without adding to the cost of paper and printing. In the sheet below, the dark outline indicates an inset, with the block number "8" identifying its location on the main map.

  Goad - bit on page

So how can a user of BL Georeferencer know what sheet a bit appears on? All insets are linked to the main map page on which they appear. Choose the "This Map" tab within the Georeferencer application. By clicking "Original web presentation", the bit is shown on the larger map sheet which will include a reference to its location.Goad - continued map
These map "bits" are important to place in order to provide the full available mapping of an area! Above image of the Deptford Bridge area of London shows the "bit" adjacent to its location on the main map sheet.

Once properly georeferenced, these small pieces will continue and complete the maps in their correct places - an eloquent solution to the problem of viewing insets on paper maps!

Try out BL Georeferencer if you are up for a visual, geographic, and historic challenge. Locating the remaining pieces is a like solving a Victorian map puzzle!

01 February 2013

BL Georeferencer - maps go like hotcakes

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This is more a news update than anything else, to say that some amazing stuff has gone on this week with BL Georeferencer, our online crowdsourcing project for placing historic maps at http://www.bl.uk/maps/
Complete2
In less than *three* days from the lauch (four from the "soft" launch of social media leaks!), all of the 781 historic maps we put online for georeferencing were completed using the BL Georeferencer tool. Participants captured spatial metadata about the maps so that they may now be seached and viewed using popular geographic web tools, eg Google Earth and Old Maps Online, and data (OSM, OS OpenData). 
 
So before I head off to a training session, I wanted to say "thank you" to the volunteers who gave their time to sort out where all these maps belonged. I know from my familiarity with this collection that finding the places depicted often required plenty of patience, online research and a spatial sense!
-kimberly
Guinea-blog



 

02 November 2012

Annoucing BL Georeferencer champions

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All the maps in this latest round of BL Georeferencer were completed yesterday, 1 Nov, thus producing second lot of of the Library's historic maps that know where they belong. A related result was the amicable conclusion of the weeklong point leapfrogging between the two top participants, Sue White and Maurice Nicholson.

A heartfelt "thank you" to Sue and Maurice for their dedicated work! In what must have been mutual design or compromise, each contributed precisely 3,300 points over the course of the six days. This impressive number is evident in the high quality of the georeferencing they produced, and will be enjoyed by users overlaying the maps in future. 

001MAP00000C7C1U00011000[SVC2]
This Christopher Saxton map of Kent, Sussex, Middlesex and Surrey was assigned a mind-boggling 398 points, more than any other map!

A quarter of the maps were georeferenced with 3-5 points, with more than half of the maps sporting between 6 and 30 points. Less - ~18% - have between 30 and 100 points at present, such as this 1928 OS map of the south west coast of Wales (38 points).

004834417_7_1928[SVC1]

Thanks to all the volunteers that assisted in the BL Georeferencer effort. We will see their work added to Old Maps Online in future, where maps from numerous collections can be searched geographically and by time. Before that, however, we have some error-checking that I'll be looking for help with... stay tuned! 

 

30 October 2012

Difficult maps

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Sometimes the map that's leftover, that no else wants to decipher, is the most valuable to georeference.

In my periodic checks on BL Georeferencer http://www.bl.uk/maps/, I've noticed that the more opaque, difficult to discern maps are avoided - and this is entirely understandable! Associating the places that appear on historic maps with their current geographic location on the ground can be straightforward, but not always. Here are a few of those more demanding:

Banbury castle4
This 16th c. drawing required reading the title and description to get any idea of where or what it was - there is no text on the map!

Shropshire
This ca 1600 map of Shopshire is nicely labelled, but requires some interpretation.  Shewsbury is labelled "Salop", an historical name for the city, and scale varies over the map: the loop of the river on which the city is located is of an inordinately large scale, but this emphasises its prime geographic feature making it firmly recognisable.

Thanks to Steven Feldman for taking on these two.

Below are a couple I am less certain will make it...

Kensington
Numerous maps from the Kensington Turnpike Trust are available, and all seem to be difficult to move. This, sheet 6, has even less information than most!

 
Estate map
No one has dared attempt this estate map of "the manors of Mincingbury, Abbotsbury and Hoares, in Barley, Hertfordshire." If anyone can figure where this might be located, please help!

What makes the difficult maps especially valuable to georeference is their very obscurity; because most folks will not know what they represent, they are made less useful. Once their location is known, they are able to be found and used as maps. 

My thanks and admiration go out those participants in the BL Georeferncer project that accept the challenging maps!

26 October 2012

Chance to georeference maps online!

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It was only this morning that a new set of 700 maps was opened to the public for georeferencing, but this afternoon I am overwhelmed at the interest we've received. Participating individuals examined the scanned maps closely - many of which were not easy to decipher, being of an earlier and more "characterful" sort - and, using an online gazetteer and map, found and assigned their locations. Amazing.

There is plenty left to do. Please give it a try!

http://www.bl.uk/maps/

Screenshot for instructions
Once a map has been georeferenced with this tool, it may be viewed overlaid on the landscape, and each participant is credited for the number of points they submit.  

But it is not all about immediate gratification and competition! Georeferencing these maps extends their usability and findability, and allows visualisation in new ways using popular geospatial tools. The British Library has tremendous collections of historic maps that, without georeferencing, lack visibility via digital technologies, so we decided to crowd-source the activity. All the data created from this effort will be used for enhanced searching; the results of our initial pilot (thanks to those volunteers) have already been applied in Old Maps Online (http://oldmapsonline.org) and we have plans for our own uses.

27 February 2012

Success in "placing" historic maps

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The crowdsourcing effort described in my last post was, I am happy to say, complete in less than one week. Many thanks to all that participated! Maurice Nicholson of Bedford submitted the most maps, and he will be in for a visit to the British Library in a couple of weeks.

Below is a visualisation of the maps completed (before any error-checking!)

Envelopes

All of the maps in the project are still open for editing. Adding more points - spread across the entire map - will improve the accuracy of the data. From here, simply click on the red marker representing the map you wish to edit to enter the Georeferencer tool. If you have local knowledge of an area, we'd appreciate you reviewing what's there to ensure the best fit and minimise errors.   

Because of the quick work, the newly-georeferenced maps were integrated into the JISC-funded Old Maps Online, in which The British Library is partnering, in time for its launch. More on that soon...

Get in touch via georeferencer@bl.uk if you wish to be contacted when the next batch of maps is ready for georeferencing.

14 February 2012

Georeferencing maps online - will it work?

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We're asking the online public to undertake a task beyond our own means: to georeference some of our treasures of British mapping. http://maps.bl.uk

The maps included represent a very small sample, to be sure. But the the Ordnance Survey Drawings are some of the most enquired-after maps we have, being unique manuscript documents that portray the lanscape of England and Wales before the onslaught of industrialisation made its mark.

  GE - Exeter4
This is a detail of OSD 40, pt. 3. In 1801, Exeter was a small and compact town!

The other collection we've included in this effort is a selection of the Crace Collection of Maps of London. I've found these maps to be more difficult to georeference, and am eager to see how others fare with them.

The project web page is http://maps.bl.uk - there is a short video there and detailed instructions. Access is also available from within the map pages in the Online Gallery. Please try this new tool out, as it will be a great help towards improving access to and visibility of these collections!