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Map Curators Group > Map Cataloguing For The Terrified

How To Catalogue Cartographic Materials For Libraries And Archives

MCG-eventThe Map Curators’ Group of the British Cartographic Society ran this further training day at Cambridge University Library from the afternoon of 31 January to the 1 February 2007.

The aim was to provide a basic training course in map cataloguing for all who had to deal with maps. Many librarians and archivists have to work in isolation and dealing with maps can be a daunting prospect.

30 delegates came from various institutions such as universities, record societies and learned institutions as well as the Defence Geographic Centre together with one from Belgium and another from Latvia.

Paula Williams (National Library of Scotland) commenced with a general introduction to the basics of map cataloguing highlighting the differences between cataloguing maps and books. April Carlucci (British Library) then dealt with the question of physical description. This was followed by a practical exercise on how to measure a map. After a welcome tea break April spoke about mathematical data (scale, projection and co-ordinates). A further practical session followed on how to measure and calculate scale using various examples.

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The afternoon session concluded with a reception sponsored by the GeoInformation Group to which we were delighted to welcome Dr Seppe Cassettari, a managing director of the Group. This gave everyone a chance to get to know one another in an informal setting.

Dinner had been arranged in a local restaurant and the evening concluded with a brisk walk to the venue, a pleasant dinner and an opportunity to talk with everyone.


Promptly at 9.15 next morning Debbie Hall (Bodleian Library) dealt with the challenges raised in dealing with antiquarian maps. She was followed by Rose Mitchell (National Archives) who emphasised the different approach to dealing with maps in archives, illustrating this with several interesting examples. After the coffee break Paula Williams spoke on dealing with digital maps including a brief overview of metadata. The morning concluded with an hour’s practical session. Delegates were given a range of different maps on which to practice cataloguing. The speakers were there to help with problems.

After lunch, taken in the library canteen, Steve Hills (Cambridge University Library) gave an introduction the Library of Congress subject headings. The afternoon concluded with an introduction to MARC format for bibliographic data by April Carlucci and Paula Williams.

MCG-eventThe course was organised by April Carlucci, Anne Taylor (Cambridge University Library) and Ann Sutherland (Convener Map Curators’ Group). Local support was given by Yanning Rao (Cambridge University Library).

The course was booked up weeks ahead and was very much oversubscribed. It proved that there is a demand for such events and it is to be hoped that it can be repeated before too long for those who were unable to secure a place this time.

Special thanks are due to Anne Taylor who not only organised the venue but collated all the documentation and organised the tea and coffee, the reception and dinner. All the speakers deserve thanks for their enthusiasm and presentations. We are particularly grateful to Peter Fox Cambridge University Librarian for permitting use of the Morison Room for the event.

No report would be complete without acknowledging the help of the British Cartographic Society Administrator.

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