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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign blog post

Featured Item in the Collection: Aerial Stereograms   What is the item? Long before VR headsets hit the tech market, analog stereograms allowed users to view far off places in 3D. The Aerial Stereogram collection at the University of Illinois Map Library contains digitized photos designed to help students interpret aerial photography. Each stereogram is a set of photos taken from slightly different angles that, when viewed through a stereoscope, appear 3D to the viewer. The aerial photos in the stereogram collection were taken between 1936 and 1970 and show natural landforms as well as man-made features. The collection primarily consists of U.S. government photography. Most of the photos are of the United States, although the collection includes a few taken from Canada, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, and Japan. The collection also includes a digitized catalog with a description of each photo as well as indexes by location, subject, and date.   What BTAA Library submi
Recent posts

An Interview with Matthew McLaughlin

Interviewer: Milan Budhathoki, GIS and Data Librarian, University of Maryland College Park This interview is part of our Researcher Interview series that spotlights some of the interesting work being done using maps/GIS data at the Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions. Researcher Bio Matthew McLaughlin (Matt) is a senior lecturer and mixed media artist in the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland College Park. Through his artworks, Matt explores the human relationship with their environments, particularly urban and suburban spaces, and examines how we interact with and observe the spaces we inhabit and modify to fulfill our wants and needs. By manipulating images/maps and re-contextualizing symbols, his work generates fresh spatial perspectives for viewers to contemplate when they confront their own connections with the environment. Webpages: (personal website) (department website) How have you been incorporati

Dividing the City: Race-Restrictive Covenants in St. Louis and St. Louis County

By Colin Gordon & Jay Bowen   Featured Item or Collection: Dividing the City What is the item? These items feature data on covenant restrictions in St. Louis. They are part of an effort to document the spatial distribution and extent of a mechanism widely understood to be a root cause of ongoing racial segregation and wealth inequality. They make visible these efforts to maintain racially divided access to property and wealth, which were long concealed in the extended pages of local records. What BTAA Library submitted the item? University of Iowa Interesting tidbits An outgrowth of the Mapping Prejudice project initiated at the University of Minnesota The uneven digitization of property records including racial restrictions presented unique impediments to reproducing the research in Greater St. Louis, Missouri The expansion of private racial restrictions in the St. Louis region were mapped from the late nineteenth century to their decline with S

Mapping Chicagoland at the University of Chicago Library

By Greg Fleming, University of Chicago Library   Mapping Chicagoland. Coming Soon from the University of Chicago Library, the Newberry Library and the Chicago History Museum.   The University of Chicago Library, the Newberry Library and the Chicago History Museum were awarded an National Endowment for the Humanities grant in April 2022, for a project to digitize and display over 4,000 maps of the Greater Chicago area. This project is being led by Cecilia Smith of the University of Chicago, who was Maps and GIS Librarian at the time of the award. The project will scan over 4,000 maps from the collections of the three institutions and make them available on the University of Chicago Library site and through the BTAA Geoportal . The University of Chicago Library is contributing maps from 1853-1940. This includes maps produced by its Social Science Research Committee,  many of which have already been digitized , as well as map publishing companies, such as Rand McNally, transpor

Pole Position

By Danny Dotson, Interface Committee Did you know that the Geoportal has maps from various themes? Not all of these are in the same "collection" as they are provided by different universities, but are in a way a collection as well. This blog entry will be covering polar maps. The Geoportal has many maps related to areas at or near the poles. For example, 145 maps are flagged with place name Greenland. This includes a scan of a map from 1750 . In the same area, there are 19 maps of the place Arctic . Searching for Antarctica would get many more, probably due to the prominence of research on our coldest continent. There are 261 items for Antarctica, but this time some of them are datasets and websites! But more specifically, you'll see areas of Antarctica, like: Antarctica--McMurdo Dry Valleys Antarctica--Victoria Land Antarctica--Marie Byrd Land Antarctica--McMurdo Sound Antarctica--Ross Island So what happens if you were to just search for Pola

Japanese Map Project at The Ohio State University Libraries

In Summer 2022, two students with Japanese language knowledge were hired to examine Japanese language maps in Ohio State's collections in order to record additional information that would improve the metadata about the items, including a focus on the need for both Japanese and English language metadata. Takuma Goto is one of those students. Takuma has been continuing work on this project and this blog post details some general information about the maps and an especially interesting find in the collections. Takuma shares the following about what he experienced and a particularly long map!   Takuma Goto (Class of 2023) working with a Japanese map in the Geology Library Hi! My name is Takuma Goto, and I am a 4th year OSU student majoring in Statistics and Spanish. As my name suggests, I am ethnically Japanese, and thanks to my parents' efforts, I understand Japanese as well as English. This has given me the opportunity to work with the East Asian Studies Unit alongside G

Rutgers Joins the BTAA Geoportal

By Francesca Giannetti Rutgers University–New Brunswick is the newest member of the BTAA Geospatial Information Network. As of Fall 2022, we have contributed 4,576 new records to the BTAA Geoportal ( collection record | browse link ). These records come from our previously digitized "Maps of New Jersey" collection, which spans over 300 years of the state's development from geographic, geologic, political, environmental, and historical perspectives. This digital collection is drawn from multiple repositories, including Special Collections and University Archives , the New Jersey Environmental Digital Library , and several public library partners of the New Jersey Digital Highway . I ncluded in the Rutgers collection are some rare and unique items from Special Collections and University Archives, such as this "Early Map of New Brunswick," which I (Francesca) often use in my mapping workshops to invite discussion about the similarities a

Geospatial Data Curation Toolkit

By Melinda Kernik Have you ever saved data in a new file format and then later realized that it no longer looks right?  This is a common problem for geospatial data!  If you work with geodatabases but sometimes share data in alternate file formats, this post is especially for you.  Geodatabases are popular among GIS researchers, but there are a limited number of software in which they can be opened. Because of this, it is a common practice to convert feature classes into shapefiles when archiving or sharing data. Shapefiles have substantial limitations, however, which can lead to loss of data and functionality during file conversion.  You may have come across the truncation (and frustration) that can result from the 10 character limit on field names. There are many other limitations shapefiles have that are more difficult to notice, including limitations on the length of text fields and lack of support for time within date fields. It is easy to unintentionally alter a dataset while try

Important Farmland Map Collection

Important Farmland Map Collection   According to the American Farmland Trust, 2,000 acres of agricultural land in the United States are paved over every day (The Trust, 2022). This results in negative effects on our waterways and coastal waters not to mention decreased capacity for producing food and other agricultural products. This trend was seen decades ago by the USDA Soil Conservation Service. In response, the Service created and published county maps that colorfully delineated prime and unique farmland.    The purpose was to help city planning and other officials understand the high quality land resources in their area [and thereby avoid if possible in future urban growth projects]. As the multi-year project unfurled, it prioritized counties experiencing rapid land use change.    Map production continued into the early 1980s, but then took a turn for the worse. The project fell far short of the intended 1,200 counties - perhaps the recession of the early 1980s

The Adventures of Mark Twain

By Laura Kane McElfresh Featured Item: The Adventures of Mark Twain What is the item? Pictorial map of the life and works of Mark Twain, a.k.a. Samuel Langhorne Clemens. This map was issued by Warner Brothers Pictures to promote their biographical movie, The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944). The map's border features images from the biopic, starring Fredric March and Alexis Smith as Samuel Langhorne and Olivia Langdon Clemens.  What BTAA Library submitted the item? University of Michigan Interesting tidbits: The map illustrates Clemens' extensive travels across and beyond the United States Shows his connections to some unexpected places -- such as Bear Creek, near San Antonio, TX Cities that figure prominently in Clemens' life and career are marked with stars on the map Both appearances of Halley's Comet during Clemens' lifetime are commemorated Caption: The map is illustrated with events in Samuel Clemens' life and characters from his writings. Where can I find

Wisconsin Official State Highway Map Digital Collection

By Jaime Martindale, Map and Geospatial Data Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison Coming soon from the University of Wisconsin-Madison:  Official State Highway Map Digital Collection A digital archive of the “Official State Highway Map” of Wisconsin has recently been completed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT).  Dating back to 1916, the state highway map collection contains 82 unique editions (some single year, others spanning two years.) The print editions were digitized by the American Geographical Society Library (AGSL) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Wisconsin State Historical Society (WHS) and the WisDOT Cartography Division to create a comprehensive collection of digital maps in both PDF and TIFF formats.  The digital map files will be archived by the Robinson Map Library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.   Official State of Wisconsin Highway Map, 1916 (PDF by WHS)   Wisconsin’s earliest official highway map is date

BTAA GIS Conference 2022: Tuesday, November 15

By Laura Kane McElfresh, Cartographic Metadata Librarian, University of Minnesota Final preparations for the third annual BTAA GIS Conference are underway! With technical infrastructure and support from the Big Ten Academic Alliance headquarters office, the Planning Committee is pleased to present this slate of programs on geospatial applications in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and medicine. The conference will feature a map gallery plus lightning talks, three papers sessions, and two panels on GIS careers and professional development, centered around a keynote presentation by Tanya Ruka and Rudo Kemper of  Native Land Digital . The day begins at 9:00 AM CST/10:00 AM EST with lightning talks on a variety of geospatial topics. Two papers sessions follow: "Justice and Social Geography" at 10 AM Central (11 AM Eastern), and "Climate and Carbon" at 11:15 AM (12:15 PM Eastern). After a break for lunch, the conference will reconvene at 1:00 PM CST (2:00 PM