Mapping the Future
For 25 years, the University of Texas Libraries have been digitizing and sharing maps online through the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) Map Collection. Presently, there are over 70,000 map images on our website that averages over 10,000 visitors a day. Users worldwide have long benefited from free and unfettered access to this collection. Yet as the world has gone digital and the pandemic has normalized remote learning, the need to leverage new technologies is essential now more than ever. In short, this world-renowned collection requires enhancement to meet 21st century needs.
By contributing today, you can play a role in the success of the next 25 years!
Since its inception, the PCL Map Collection has been a model of open access, allowing both serious and casual researchers to download images of maps. Both the internet and mapping have evolved since 1995, the year the founders of Google met at college, and GPS devices were made available for civilian users. Needless to say, students, researchers, and browsers have come to need and expect more.
The UT Libraries have created GeoData and Collections portals to meet those needs, but further investment is needed to leverage their full potential effectively. Presently students and researchers can create simple maps online, but historical map data is lacking. The UT Libraries can fill this gap by transforming our existing online maps into robust digital objects that will easily integrate into GIS software so future researchers can make more important discoveries or be ready to download for publication.
For centuries maps have been used to analyze data and make important discoveries. A famous example is Dr. John Snow's groundbreaking map of a cholera outbreak in London in 1854.
While much has changed since 1854, maps' role in driving innovative research has only increased, making resources like the PCL Map Collection vital in today’s academic landscape. We seek to encourage UT student researchers to incorporate maps into their work, which strives to address our current era's pressing challenges. With funds raised from this project, the UT Libraries will develop The UT Libraries Map & Geospatial Collections Explorer Award to recognize exemplary projects that use maps and geospatial data from resources like the PCL Map Collection. Funding will increase the number of maps available, ensure that more map files are usable in new ways, and incentivize researchers' use at all levels, from the faculty to our students to the general public.
The power of UT Libraries’ geospatial collections is time-tested. Our maps continue to elevate and enhance visual understanding of so many aspects of societal discussions. By contributing to our campaign, together, we can provide new platforms for research, invest in transformational technologies, and provide broader, barrier-free access to our collections for the next 25 years and more!