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We have a small collection of hardcopy maps, in the low hundreds, to catalogue and file into long term storage and are looking for lightweight guidelines and tools to do this in a way that will benefit future staff who aren’t going to remember “Oh yeah, the 1990s land negotiations! Those maps are in the cabinet behind the paper storage in the basement”.

We’re under strong pressure to “get those old pieces of paper out of here” to make way for desks and people and don’t have the time or budget to invest in a real library system. The solution of the day is to create a spreadsheet with a half dozen home-baked field names and a hyperlink to a photo or scan in the file-system. This would be a step or two above musty cabinets on the other side of the building but is a fragile solution.

Can you suggest something that might bridge the gap between home made spreadsheets and real catalogue created by a map librarian?

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    this Q nests into the "documentation" section of @MappaGnosis excellent gis.stackexchange.com/a/18542/108 – matt wilkie Jun 13 '18 at 17:15
  • Do they reference different places? – FelixIP Jun 13 '18 at 18:33
  • @FelixIP: yes different places – matt wilkie Jun 14 '18 at 15:38
  • I'd scan them, create table catalog first and shuffle through them, recording single xy coordinate. Make points in database and attach scan. Spatial library. – FelixIP Jun 14 '18 at 19:21
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Recently, we have been doing something similar, but for a larger collection of maps. We wanted something simple, but not fragile, mostly for our own use.

A few passionate students helped with crowdsourcing most of the maps' metadata through Google Forms. All the information was then imported into an SQLite database.

The maps are almost all part of a series, and the form was designed to capture things like edition, year of survey, later updates, symbol types etc. We had to change the form several times during the process to accommodate some information that we originally thought it was of no use. For browsing the database, there are a lot of options, from SQLite Studio to using only the command line.

It's lightweight, easy to work with, and can be later used with other types of data from different sources, including GIS related projects.

  • Interesting. What info was captured in the forms and how was it passed to sqlite? (is the form publicly available?) After ingested into the db how do you browse and search the map records? – matt wilkie Jun 13 '18 at 21:46
  • The maps are almost all part of a series, and the form (which is not public) was designed to capture things like edition, year of survey, later updates, symbol types etc. We had to change the form several times during the process to accommodate some information that we originally thought it was of no use. For browsing the database, I use SQLite Studio and Spatialite GUI in Linux Mint and Windows 10, but other people use R or the command line. – Cezar B Jun 13 '18 at 22:09
  • Thanks, that's useful; it could be added to the answer. The "change the form several times during process" prospect is something we've been through and would like to head off if possible! What fields turned out to be important for you? – matt wilkie Jun 14 '18 at 15:42
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    I edited the answer. The most important fields were the map's edition, the year of survey, the portrayed area and the overall design. This is because we want the maps to be used in scientific studies and these four help us the most in documenting the material and creating a good overview of the context in which they were made. – Cezar B Jun 15 '18 at 20:04
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We had a significant number of historical boundary maps that were rolled up in our document archive that we needed to get rid of.

We first had all the maps scanned by a local printing company we work with.

I then had an intern organize all the scans and label the file names by the YEAR-TYPE of boundary they represented, for exampmle:

DPS-ELEM-82
DPS-MID-87
DPS-HIGH-84

The files then reside on a network share (backed up, secure, etc.) as files:

enter image description here

For our applications of these historic maps, this seems to work just fine, and if we needed to document further, we could create the type of spreadsheet you're referring to, or even build a database that would refer to these images that could be retrieved from a client of some sort...

  • This is a good description of our fall-back option. I'm angling for something that's one or two levels up the info-management hierarchy though. – matt wilkie Jun 13 '18 at 18:31

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