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Map Curators Group > Workshop 2010 > Marco van Egmond Paper

Marco van Egmond
Map Curator, Utrecht University Library
Collecting digital cartographic data in Utrecht: storage and accessibility

At present cartographic documents are more and more published born-digital or as scanned digital images: via CDs and DVDs, in GIS, on the internet, and through digitizing analogue maps and atlases. The storage and accessibility of this almost exponentially expanding data are challenging the map librarian now. This paper deals with how we in the Netherlands are today trying to respond to these developments, with special attention to the map library of the University Library of Utrecht. Various forms of digital cartographic data, which are being collected in Utrecht, will be examined. Furthermore the way in which these data are currently archived and made available to third parties, for instance in the map library, will be dealt with. Of course collecting geodata leads to certain problems and constraints, which will be commented upon briefly. Finally some recommendations will be made about dealing more efficiently with collecting, cataloguing and making these digital maps available in the future. Also the changing role of the map librarian and the traditional map collection will be discussed.

At the Faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University a lot of digital cartographic data, meant for use in education and research, is collected on a special server. It mainly includes downloaded images from the internet and digitized modern analogue maps, mostly in high resolution and in different file formats. On this server the old floppy discs and CDs of the map collection of the Utrecht University Library are also preserved as viewable files and programs. Via a connection with the server the cartographic data can be consulted by visitors of the map library. If desired, a customer can easily acquire a copy of an image, which can only be used for non-commercial purposes.

A simple geographic and thematic file structure offers a quick insight in the rapidly growing mass of cartographic data. The number of available digital cartographic data, collected in the past seven years, has already surpassed the number of analogue maps and atlases in the map library, collected in the past century! For better accessibility the use of metadata on these digital images seems absolutely necessary. Staff capacity however prevents cataloguing the digital data in the same thorough way as is done with analogue cartographic documents. Making accessible these data in, for instance, on line library catalogues will therefore certainly demand a national or even supranational effort.

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