Maps in Libraries 2019

First International GeoPortOst Workshop.


Leibniz‐Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg, in cooperation with the University of Regensburg (UR)
Tillmann Tegeler (IOS), Hans Bauer (IOS), Ulf Brunnbauer (UR/IOS)
March 13th – 14th 2019
Leibniz‐Institut für Ost‐ und Südosturopaforschung (IOS), Landshuter Str. 4, D-93047 Regensburg, Room 319
The number of participants is limited. Please register by March 5th, 2019, via E-Mail to

The advancing digitization of library holdings allows easier access to resources that were previously poorly represented by the traditional catalogue. This also includes map collections: In digital environments, they are searchable beyond verbal indexing. Crucial for this is adding geographical coordinates as new values to the map metadata (via georeferencing). With the help of coordinates not only the retrieval of cartographic documents can be improved by visual geosearch systems, they can also be linked to other information – outside of the catalogue.

Meanwhile we look back on about 15 years of mass georeferencing in libraries. Various applications have been established to unlock map content with public participation (e.g. the Georeferencer by Klokan Technologies or the Map Warper by Tim Waters) and make it available in portals.

The workshop “Maps in Libraries” provides a forum to discuss the results and perspectives of these developments. How is the response to new access points to map content? How are the data used – and do we even know about it? How are map documents found in a diversified landscape of portals and digital libraries? Who belongs to the target group of these new services – and is there one at all?

Detailed Program and Abstracts

Wednesday 13 March, IOS Regensburg, Room 319

13:00 –13:45
13:45 – 14:00
Welcoming adress and general information
(Ulf Brunnbauer, University of Regensburg / IOS)
14:00 – 14:30

Keynote 1

Digitisation and georeferencing of maps: key terms or stimulus words?

(Wolfgang Crom, Staatsbibliothek Berlin)

Slides (CC BY 4.0)

14:30 – 16:00

Panel 1: The New Collection Paradigm – From Map Libraries to Geospatial Services

(Chair: Christian Lotz, Herder-Institut Marburg)

  • Creating the Virtual Map Drawer: Towards a new paradigm

    (Marcy Bidney, American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)


    As I see it, there have been three major shifts in the map library paradigm in the last twenty five years. It is easy to pinpoint the first shift, the time when the digital revolution came to map libraries in the United States. In 1995, the Association for Research Libraries initiated the GIS Literacy project. The goal of this project was to bring GIS into academic and public libraries and was in response to the Census being distributed on CD-ROM. In response, libraries had to transform their technology and their services to be able to provide access to data in a new format. A decade later, another new format was being created as many libraries were in the early stages of digitizing their cartographic collections.

    And now, I believe, we are in the middle of the third paradigm shift, the development of new geospatial services utilizing our collections. Advances in technology have allowed the development of variety of means for adding value to our digital collections through enhanced metadata and web mapping tools. While the tools may vary widely in their ease of use, affordability and implementation, they all have one thing in common: increasing access to the information embedded in our collections – both text and map based. Many of these tools and projects are often being developed outside of traditional map library spaces – as part of a suite of “new” digital services in libraries – within research commons, scholars commons and digital humanities labs.

    This paper seeks to address some of the challenging questions we face in the middle of this paradigm shift: How do we manage legacy digital collections into this new paradigm? What role does the library continue to play in these new services? How do we manage the challenge of the digital divide that seems to be widening between libraries? How do we ensure that those print collections continue to thrive in an increasingly digital world?

    Slides (© Marcy Bidney)

  • The Dutch landscape of online institutional georeferencing

    (Marco van Egmond, Utrecht University Library)


    As soon as October 2010, the National Archives of the Netherlands (Nationaal Archief) in the Hague launched an internal georeferencing pilot that included the geographical aligning of 700 polder maps in the province of South Holland. As such, it was the first Dutch institution practicing georeferencing in an online and collaborative environment mainly in order to enhance retrieval and user interfaces. From then on, other map collecting libraries and organizations in the Netherlands were to follow the example of the National Archives.

    How did this development evolve and what does the current Dutch landscape of institutional georeferencing look like? What are the similarities and what are the differences? And what can be said about the response of potential users and target groups to the new access points to map content? Do we know whether georeferenced data are actually used?

    The present paper will shed light on answering these questions, and will also deal with some Utrecht user experiences. Furthermore some thoughts will be shared about future perspectives.

    Slides (© Marco van Egmond)

  • Creating, Managing, and Maximising the Potential of Large Online Georeferenced Map Layers

    (Christopher Fleet, National Library of Scotland Edinburgh)


    The National Library of Scotland now has over 200,000 online zoomable maps, accessible through bounding-box coordinates. However, the most important online content, in terms of user visits and onward re-use, is in georeferenced layers of mapping. The largest of these seam together tens of thousands of map sheets as single georeferenced layers. Not only are these layers more useful, more engaging and easier to use than the individual sheet maps that form their constituent parts, they are also much easier to re-use in other applications and websites using web-services technologies.

    This talk will share key insights on the National Library of Scotland’s work in creating and maintaining these georeferenced layers, and the new user communities we have reached. It will first describe the georeferencing workflows we use to create the layers, all of which are easily extendable to other libraries. It will then describe and illustrate the open-source viewers (available on Github for onward re-use) which allow the georeferenced layers to be selected, compared to one another, and viewed. The onward use and re-use of these layers, both on the NLS website, and in other websites will be demonstrated. A particular case study of the NLS Historic Maps API will be included: in the seven years since it was launched in 2011, this has seen 6.7 million sessions and 10.8 million page views, and used by a broader range of institutions than our traditional online user base. The talk will describe these new user communities, and the implications for future online map digitisation, georeferencing and delivery.

    Slides (CC BY 4.0)

16:00 –16:30
Coffee break
16:30 – 18:30

Panel 2: Let's space! Georeferencing and user participation

(Chair: Tillmann Tegeler, IOS)

  • Use the Crowd – Georeferencing of Old Maps at ETH-library

    (Roman Walt, ETH Zürich)


    ETH Library has a long tradition in the use of GIS technologies in the indexing and mediation of its map holdings. GIS-based applications have been used since the 1990s for both cataloguing and access to the map inventory, and in recent years they have been consistently further developed in various projects together with cooperation partners and external service providers (e.g. Toporama, Kartenportal.CH, MapSeries, Map on App).

    A special aspect is the inclusion of the "crowd", the general public, in the enrichment of existing data with additional spatial information. As part of the digitisation projects at ETH Library, historical maps have been digitised since 2014 and presented on the platform ( Since map holdings at the ETH Library are completely indexed via single sheet cataloguing, the catalogue data available when the holdings were digitised are already provided with precise coordinates. Georeferencing is intended to make the digital copies accessible for research and teaching in a form that allows them to be directly processed in projects or courses.

    This enrichment with spatial information is complex although there is a high degree of cataloguing. For this reason, the georeferencing of historical maps was carried out at the beginning of 2017 in a pilot experiment using the crowd and the Georeferencer application operated by Klokan Technologies. Almost 1’000 digitised maps were published and georeferenced by the public for three months. Since the enriched maps are provided in particular for research and teaching, particular attention was paid to the quality of the georeferenced maps. The digital copies provided were georeferenced by the crowd within a very short time and with high precision which fulfilled the given requirements. The positive experiences from this pilot project at the ETH Library are expected to lead to a further georeferencing of the historical maps digitised in 2017 and 2018 by the crowd in the first half of 2019.

    The presentation explains the individual steps of the 2017 georeferencing project and highlights the experiences and advantages, but also the challenges in the context of cataloguing and providing digitised maps via the crowd at the ETH Library.

    Slides (CC BY 4.0)

  • Maps in the Crowd: Georeferencing in a non-geographical institute

    (Martijn Storms, Leiden University Libraries)


    Leiden University Libraries has a collection of ca. 100,000 loose maps and 3,500 atlases. In 2015 they started a crowdsourcing project to georeference their map collection: Maps in the Crowd. For this project the Georeferencer tool of Klokan was used. Up to now ca. 8,500 maps are georeferenced in this ongoing project.

    At this point the library has to decide how to proceed. Before new uploads of maps will be made to Georeferencer, it has to become clear first how the results of georeferencing will be stored and/or linked to the existing metadata, online catalogue and the repository infrastructure for digitized maps. To what extent is it desirable to use internal systems, and for what functionalities external platforms are necessary.

    In comparison to other institutions that are georeferencing (parts of) their map collections, Leiden University, as well as its library, has to be considered as a relative ‘non-geographical’ institute. There is no faculty of geography or geo-sciences and knowledge about geodata and GIS is limited and fragmented. Therefore, Leiden University Libraries needs to cooperate with other parties on this field of expertise.

    In the past years a new repository infrastructure replaced the various image databases of collections that partly were acquired recently. One of these is the map viewer of the collection of Dutch colonial maps of the Royal Tropical Institute. The special functionalities for geographical searching and navigation within map series are lost since the map images are moved to the new image database. At this moment the preservation and restoration of the most important functionalities has the highest priority, therefore this map collection will be made available in Old Maps Online as soon as possible.

    Slides (CC BY 4.0)

  • German State Archives as Custodians of Maps and Georeferenced Data

    (Andreas Weber, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart)


    Over the last 40 years, digital geographic information has replaced traditional maps in many areas of social, economic and public life. The transformation from physical object to digital manifestation poses new challenges for archivists, who need to preserve records for generations to come. At the same time, the evolution to digital information allows archives to present their material and to interact with their users in new and exciting ways.

    The presentation addresses both aspects. Following a short introduction to the strategic approach of the Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg (State Archives of Baden-Württemberg) concerning geographic information, an account of an ongoing crowdsourcing project will be given. By crowd-based georeferencing of digitized historic maps and embedding them into the linked-data platform LEO-BW this project generates publicity and fosters new perspectives on archival records.

    Slides (CC BY 3.0 DE)

  • Mile Sheets, Metadata and Managing Map Forums

    (Dominik Stoltz, SLUB Dresden)

    Slides (© Dominik Stoltz)

Workshop Dinner (optional)

Thursday 14 March 2019, IOS Regensburg, Room 319

9:00 – 9:30

Keynote 2

The Future of Old Maps in Digital World

(Petr Přidal, Klokan Technologies)


9:30 – 11:00

Panel 3: From Old to New. GIS, tools, and old maps

(Chair: Ingo Frank, IOS)

  • Web-GIS "Čerteži Russkogo gosudarstva XVI.-XVII. vv"

    (Alexey Frolov, Russian Academy of Sciences Moscow)

    Slides (© Alexey Frolov)

  • Recogito: a platform for semantic map annotation

    (Rainer Simon, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology Vienna)

    Slides (CC BY 4.0)

  • Geo-Spatial-Mining of Historical Maps and Texts: Comparing 16th c. Ottoman military logistics with 19th c. transport infrastructure in Southeast Europe

    (Mustafa Erdem Kabadayı, Grigor Boykov, Piet Gerrits, Koç University Istanbul)


    For this proposed paper we would like to compare our estimated route of the Ottoman army from Istanbul to Smederevska Palanka, close to Belgrade, on their 1532 Köszeg campaign with cart roads of the 1900s for the same route, to be able to assess continuities or ruptures in the transport infrastructure in Southeast Europe in the long-run.

    For this exercise we geo-located army stops for 1532 Köszeg campaign using the army logbooks from the Ottoman state archives. Then we connected these army stops in three alternative ways: a) using Tobler Hiking Function, b) using a modified cost function on GIS with a weighted 6 percent maximum slope gradient for carts, c) another cost function with a weighted 12 percent maximum slope gradient for pack animals.

    We are inserting a zoom-in for the segment of the campaign between Plovdiv and Sofia, where we think the differences between the results of connecting stops, caused by varying elevation profiles for hikers, pack animals, and carts, can be seen.

    Then we extracted the all cart roads and bridle paths from the 3rd Military Mapping Survey of Austria-Hungary (1880s–1910s) along the route and superimposed this road network on top of our estimated three routes for the army for 1532.

    In this paper we will connect the army stops using the cart roads from the 1900s and compare the route profiles of the cart road connections from 1900s with our estimations of possible connections for the Ottoman army stops in the same territory for 1532.

    Slides (© Mustafa Erdem Kabadayı, Grigor Boykov, Piet Gerrits)

11:00 – 11:30
Coffee break
11:30 – 13:30

Panel 4: Finding the Place. Metadata and map retrieval

(Chair: Hans Bauer, IOS)

  • Are you able to find the maps you need?

    (Marta Kuźma, Military University of Technology Warszawa)


    Searching for archival cartographic documents is carried out, among others, through library systems; therefore, it is based on the metadata used in digital libraries. The basic search in libraries is based on geographic names, and is not always unambiguous because the name is not a unique space identifier. Searching with the use of Geosearch, suitable for archival maps that are spatial data, is based on geographical coordinates and the spatial scope of the map searched for. Geosearch is also related to the period in which the study is conducted, making the search even more precise, as the user can find works that refer to the area and the time range of their interest.

    The ability to use them, however, is significantly reduced due to the fact that access to interesting objects is quite difficult. Digitization of resources is undoubtedly a very useful process, and it is important to appreciate that many maps are now online. Maps are resources that require special information for the user to get their correct characteristics. The scope of this description is in general consistent with the standard scope for describing library resources. However, changes should pertain to two important areas: where each metadata element should be placed and how different types of information should be stored.

    The article presents how old maps should be described in metadata to enable finding them in a digital library based on any criteria. The research undertaken is based on the quality of metadata that is the basis for the search for digital library resources, their scope and the way in which particular archival information is stored. An evaluation of Polish library resources, made available through Europeana, gives an overview of the efficiency of access to its resources.

    Slides (© Marta Kuźma)

  • Cataloguing And Presentation Tools For Old Maps and Map Series

    (Petr Žabička, Miloš Pacek, Moravská Zemská Knihovna Brno)


    This paper describes workflows used in the Moravian Library in Brno for cataloguing and online publishing of old maps and map series. It will concentrate on open source tools developed in by the library.

    Thanks to an increasing number of both commercial and open source tools, online map collection websites are able to provide geographic search functionality as a part of their search interface. Among them, plays a special role. This way of search in catalogs is more efficient, because user does not need to know the name or author of the document he is looking for. It is only necessary to define the desired area on the map.

    However, to be findable, old maps have to be accompanied by correct bibliographic and geographic metadata – at least a bounding box and a scale. This is mostly sufficient for standalone maps but insufficient in the case of map sheets belonging to larger map series were the map does not stand alone and should be presented in the context of neighbouring map sheets.

    Apart from using well-known online services like Bounding Box Tool or Georeferencer, Moravian Library has developed tools to help with the whole process of cataloguing old map collections: Scale Calculator and MapSeries. While the Scale Calculator is a relatively simple tool, Mapseries is a complex system that works with map sheet layout shapefiles and metadata to provide cataloguer with a complete bibliographic record for a given map sheet. guaranteeing consistent bibliographic description of all sheets. The tool also has a presentation layer to provide better presentation of map series.

    Slides (CC BY 4.0)

  • Maps in the Digital Collection of the Presidential Library: User perspective

    (Olga Zhlobinskaya, Russian Presidential Library St. Petersburg)

    Slides (CC BY-NC 4.0)

  • Geospatial Discovery at the British Library: challenges and opportunities

    (Gethin Rees, British Library London)

    Slides (CC BY 4.0)

13:30 – 14:30
Closing Remarks and Lunch
15:00 – 18:00

Georeferencing Tools-User Group Meeting

(Closed Group for invited guests)

Sightseeing Tour and Dinner (optional)