BRICMICS Secretary Phil Hatfield has been travelling in the US recently, visiting the David Rumsey Map Center in October 2016 and the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center in April 2017. The Rumsey Map Center is a relatively new addition to Stanford’s Green Library, providing a research space to where users can engage with the university’s extensive map collections. The Green library houses the map collection of David Rumsey (150,000 maps and their digital surrogates), the Glen McLaughlin Collection of maps of California as an Island, the Dr. Oscar I. Norwich Collection of Maps of Africa and over 10,000 antiquarian maps collected over the years by Special Collections. The Rumsey Map Center is specially designed to facilitate contemporary research into maps, providing map tables, computer terminals, two large digital screens (one of which is interactive), speaking spaces and even a Oculus Rift VR station for users to try out 3D map environments. On top of this the Center also has a number of exhibition cabinets which display rotating groups of collection items with short explanatory texts.
The Rumsey Map Center is a wonderful space for map research and for research collaboration, with researcher interaction being an important part of the Center’s day-to-day operations. The Center is open to visitors from outside the University and you can find out more about the collections via the David Rumsey website and the Center’s Twitter account.
The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center has a slightly different focus to the Rumsey Center, being dedicated to, “the creative educational use of its holdings”. This very much fits in with the ethos of the wider Boston Public Library, handily written in stone around the outside of the building, where education is regarded as key to being a citizen and the library should be “Free to All”. The etching of this statement in stone above the entrance to Boston Public Library is very striking and a wonderful mission statement for the Library. As a result of its focus on creative educational use the Leventhal Map Center gives a lot of space to its exhibition area. This is rotated roughly three times a year and always provides a fine display of fascinating objects from the collections of Boston Public Library.
Away from the exhibition gallery the Leventhal Map Center provides speaking spaces, map research areas and a suite of tools to work with digital cartographic collections. As with the Rumsey Map Center the Leventhal has a significant presence online via their website and a particularly good Twitter feed.