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Map Curators Group > Mapping the World

Mapping the World - Collaborative support for research on overseas mapping (post-1850)

Outline description
To open up a major under-used resource for research in a wide range of disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences by targeted series-level cataloguing of overseas mapping.

To facilitate remote access to key materials by converting map library catalogue records, which at present are held on cards and accessible only to researchers visiting the libraries in person.

To provide easy access for researchers and to form the basis of conversion of records in other Higher Education institutions, the records of map holdings in seven CURL institutions will be added to the CURL database, with its associated online catalogue (COPAC), hosted by Manchester Computing as a JISC-funded national service. To make resultant records available to non-CURL institutions on a customer basis.

Cartographic materials are a basic research tool for numerous disciplines, for example, demography, development, environmentalism, ethnology, international boundaries, land utilisation, military studies, plant sciences, politics, and sustainable development. They are invaluable for both current and historical research. Each of the seven participating map collections differs in character and size according to its own acquisition policy and the nature of the bequests and gifts received. These collections represent a wealth of materials of which researchers cannot at present gain an overview. The maps being catalogued will mostly be the only copies in the institution, many will be unique to the region, and some will be unique nationally or even internationally.

The seven participating sites hold a wealth of maps in their collections, with a combined total of over 800,000 post-1850 overseas maps, described on around 150,000 catalogue cards. Collection size varies from Imperial’s 7,500 geological maps, to Oxford and Cambridge’s 300,000 sheets each. Geographical coverage is broad-ranging, with certain areas being particularly well-represented in individual institutions, for example Birmingham has strong Burmese and Chilean holdings, Edinburgh specializes in Canadian mapping, while Manchester has good African and Asian coverage.

For more information visit Bodleian Library
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