British Library Crowdsources 2,700 Maps for Georeferencing

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Launched back in February of 2012, the British Library started a pilot project to engage the public in help the library to georerefence a portion of its extensive digital maps collection.

The British Library recently announced the successful completion of its efforts to have more than 2,700 maps georeferenced for its scanned collection first-edition Goad mapping of British and Irish towns (1886-1930).  

Georeferencing the Charles E. Goad Maps

Charles E. Goad (1848 – 1910) was an English cartographer and civil engineer whose firm created street maps for many urban locations in Britain and Ireland.  

The maps were mainly created for insurance companies to assess fire risk and contained such detailed information as building footprints, number of floors, contraction materials, and property ownership.  

Georeferencing Map Project at the British Library
Georeferencing Map Project at the British Library.

More than 1,000 of these maps were created for the city of London alone.   The maps provide a treasure trove of information about urban Britain and Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The georeferencing of the collection was completed in seven short weeks by an army of volunteers.  The top contributor, Dr Susan Major, added over 10,000 control points to the Goad maps.

Georeference Goad map from the British Library.
Georeference Goad map from the British Library.

Visitors to the BL Georeferencer site can click on locations on a map to view georeferenced Goad maps.  Georeferenced maps can be viewed overlaid onto Google Maps and viewed using the 2D or 3D options.  There is also a link to download the KML file for the map.

Other previously georeferenced maps available online from the British Library include Military maps from World War I and the US Civil War as well as maps organized by region.



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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.