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Discovering and Using Historical Geographic Resources on the Web A Practical Guide for Librarians by Eva Dodsworth, Larry Wyman Laliberte

Discovering and Using Historical Geographic Resources on the Web A Practical Guide for Librarians


Part of the The Practical Guides for Librarians Series Series


Discovering and Using Historical Geographic Resources on the Web A Practical Guide for Librarians by Eva Dodsworth, Larry Wyman Laliberte

Historical geographic resources have traditionally been only accessible in print, and in person. But due to the popularity of online mapping and increased digitization, historical maps and other geographic resources are resurfacing, providing users with rich information publically accessible online. Discovering and Using Historical Geographic Resources on the Web provides library and archival staff, and their users, with information on how to locate, interpret, understand, and use these resources.


Books about web resources often consist of lengthy lists of long URLs, many of which were out of date before publication. Written by Dodsworth and Laliberte, this new guide to online historical geographic resources is not one of those books. Yes, the book has lists, but they make up only a small portion of the total volume. In addition, most sites listed originate with university libraries or government agencies, which tend to have somewhat more stable URLs. With its detailed descriptions of cartographic resources and the authors
guidance on the use of those resources, this is a valuable book for librarians. For example, the section on fire insurance maps contains a short history of insurance cartography as well as a brief discussion of color and symbols, scale and corrections, uses in historical research, and a guide to accessing these resources. Overall, this is a very useful introduction to geographic resources (primarily maps and aerial imagery)

. Although the chapters are brief, they provide adequate summaries of resources. Readers needing more information should consult the reference section located at the end of each chapter...[T]he book is very useful for librarians and others looking for a quick primer on historical cartographic resources located on the web. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers. CHOICE This is the 6th in title in the Practical Guide for Librarians series, intended to provide help to librarians with planning and implementing new library services and programs. This particular guide, as stated in the preface, introduces the wide variety of options available online for exploring history using geographic information. With the explosion of digitized historical content on the Web, this guide is indeed timely. The first chapter introduces map history in general, along with basic map concepts, and the second explores various online options for locating and retrieving digitized historical maps. Three remaining chapters describe and help users locate historical geographic information, including: surveys and plans; photographic (aerial) images; textual information (e.g., gazetteers, directories, and writings); sound recordings; and other ephemera. The authors emphasize resources produced by libraries and archives in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, but many of these include collections that are global in scope. Each chapter also lists recommended resource by state or province. The resources noted would be useful in supporting research in a variety of disciplines beyond history, including agriculture, natural resources, urban studies, archaeology, and more. This work would be beneficial for new reference and instruction librarians with an interest in historical and geographical resources, or for experienced library professionals looking to expand their reference repertoire. American Reference Books Annual Dodsworth and Laliberte's book is a beautifully produced guide that will help anyone seeking to use historical maps and other cartographic resources on the Web. It is especially useful because it is a comprehensive single point of access to Web resources. -- Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, University of Oxford and honorary president of the Society of Cartographers If you have ever looked at a historic map and thought, 'This is great, but I don't understand it!', Discovering and Using Historical Geographic Resources on the Web is for you. Dodsworth and LaLiberte unfold the mystery behind digital historical maps, so that you, as an educator or library professional, can help your users apply these maps effectively in their studies, research, and everyday lives. -- Rosa Orlandini, president of the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives

About the Author

Eva H. Dodsworth is the Geospatial Data Services Librarian at the University of Waterloo library where she specializes in teaching GIS and map-related content to the university community. Eva's interests include historical cartographic research, teaching geoweb applications and historical GIS. Eva is also a part-time online instructor for a number of library schools and continuing education organizations, where she teaches the use of GIS technology in libraries. Eva has also written Getting Started with GIS: A LITA Guide. L. W. Laliberte is the Geographic Information Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta where much of his work revolves around analyzing and synthesizing spatial information at many scales, and in various formats. Over the last decade, he has been involved with teaching different class sizes in a variety of learning environments, developed and maintained an online collection of historical maps of Manitoba, and recently, taken a great interest in developing best practices for the long-term preservation of digital geospatial data.

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Book Info

Publication date

12th June 2014


Eva Dodsworth, Larry Wyman Laliberte

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Rowman & Littlefield Education an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield


138 pages


IT, Internet & electronic resources in libraries



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