Cataloging Two Centuries of Topographic Maps in the Harvard Map Collection

Project Summary

Submitted by Martin Schreiner of MMDGI.

The Harvard Map Collection has one of the most extensive holdings of topographic maps in North America. These particular maps represent more than half of our modern collection, but only about 15% of them have been cataloged. There are more than 2500 of these uncataloged sets (containing on average about 90 maps each), ranging temporally from 1805 to the present and spanning all regions of the world. With the assistance of a project cataloger, we could make these resources more discoverable and dramatically enhance the visibility of these hidden collections. This project would dovetail very nicely with our most recent in-house project: finishing up the scanning of more than 3000 indexes (which graphically indicate our holdings in each of these topographical series). The cataloger could link the digitized index to the bibliographic record, allowing users to see at a glance the topographic coverage of each region.

Amount requested is $$80,000 - $90,000.

Expected Results with Partial Funding

We could initially focus on the most detailed series (which are also the most frequently consulted). If more funding became available later, we could easily build upon that foundation.

Benefit to Harvard Scholars and Patrons

Now most of our topographic map series are accessible only to those who consult our card catalog. If we cataloged them and attached the digitized indexes to their respective HOLLIS records, our users could learn remotely about our map series for each geographical region, the scales and dates of coverage, as well as the individual holdings of each series.

Ways the Project Supports Cross-Unit or Cross-Discipline Activities

These topographic series are used by all departments in the university: urban planners, archaeologists, historians, sociologists, biologists, etc. Whether researchers are studying the development of the road infrastructure, settlement patterns, land use, climate change, or water supply issues, these maps are often the first resource that they consult.

Resources the Sponsoring Library Can Support or Will Need Support For

The catalogers who currently work in the Map Collection will be available to provide any additional training in map cataloging and local classification practices.

Other Approaches to Achieving Goal or Result

Cataloging is the most efficient and effective method of uncovering these hidden collections. There is no alternative way to achieve these results.

Risks if Proposal is Not Approved

These valuable resources would remain hidden.

Evaluate Proposal

Please evaluate this project by the four criteria below and provide comments in the comment field.