Digital Maps in Map Collections

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Digital Maps in Map Collections: Presenting New Electronic Media Ligue des 
Biblioth�es Europe�es de Recherche, Groupe des Cartoth�ires de LIBER 

TRANSLATE ENGLISH to Fran�s, Deutsch, Italiano, Portugu� Espa� 

J�hler, ETH-Bibliothek, Z� Switzerland
� LIBER and author
Published from: LIBER Quarterly, the journal of European research libraries, 
ISSN 1435-5205, Vol. 9(1999), No 2. With permission from K.G. Sa ur Verlag, 
Munich, Germany

1. The situation in general
Changes in the information world
In this day and age fast-paced changes are taking place everywhere. Initiated by 
highly innovative computer technology new possibilities of conveying information 
are opening up. Accordingly cartography itself is subject to transformation. 
Internet and computerized cartography set new standards and the formation of 
geographical information systems (GIS) adds a totally new dimension to spatial 
Spatial data, i.e. information with geographical reference, has become important 
in almost every area of modern life and economy. GIS is the magic acronym that 
enables us to display countless statistical and numerical data through our 
computers, describing complex situations and processes on earth in a visual way. 
An important part of this visualization is the digital or electronic map. 
Digital maps in map collections?
As this development does not stop outside the map reading room the question is: 
Are electronic maps a necessity in the map library or do we leave this field of 
information to others and stick to traditional (analogue) maps? 
A modern map collection has to offer both traditional and digital material - 
this is our firm belief. Only in this way may the profession of map 
librarianship justify its existence in the coming millennium. 
Fig. 1. Traditional cartographic materials with the ETH-Bibliothek, Z� 
Fig. 2. Digital cartographic materials with the ETH-Bibliothek, Z� 
Who else but the map librarian will be able to supply the public with all sorts 
of data from GIS? Who else will provide maps on the Internet and find solutions 
for archiving digital maps? You certainly cannot expect to find electronic maps 
in every map library. However, a majority of collections in our university and 
state libraries have to face their duty and make electronic media available to 
their customers. Today's CD-ROM products can be looked upon as "conditioning 
drugs". Other sorts of digital data might be much more important though: GIS 
offers digital maps in multimedia surroundings and makes the accessing of a 
world wide supply of maps on the Internet possible. 
2. Acquiring technology for digital maps in the library
With its concept to acquire "modern" maps the ETH Bibliothek Zurich faced the 
task of following developments in computerized cartography closely from early 
on. Consequently the integration of digital maps into the collection was decided 
in 1993. The 9th conference of the Groupe des Cartoth�ires de LIBER in October 
1994 in Zurich, dealing with "Map Curatorship in Transition: Computerized Maps, 
a New Environment", actually initiated the realization of these plans. 
Choice of cartographic software
Through repeated visits to several fairs and producers and by studying 
professional literature a profile of our needs was formed. Contrary to map 
producing institutions the map library does not need complex multitask software. 
It does require, however, user-friendly tools for easy access to as many 
different products as possible. Thus we have chosen the following: 
  Adobe Photoshop 
  Adobe Illustrator 
  ArcView GIS (ESRI) 
Adobe Photoshop serves as supporting software for raster maps and for the 
graphic handling of scanned maps. Adobe Illustrator can be used for support of 
both raster and vector data. ArcView GIS is a universal support software for GIS 
data and more sophisticated CD products such as the GIS "Digital Chart of the 
World", the latter being of general importance for map collections. Additionally 
ArcView supports working with the standard software for cartographers, ArcInfo. 
The Map Department of the Library of Congress provides ArcView and even ArcInfo 
for its users. For this both the librarian and the user need special skills in 
order to be able to handle the software. 
Choice of hardware
Digital maps needing high performance software also call for high quality 
hardware. Otherwise a lot of problems will occur and many products simply will 
not work. Personal computers, in order to host graphic software and GIS, must 
meet certain minimum standards. In 1997 our PCs had the following technical 
  Processor: Pentium II 233 MHz 
  4 MB Video-RAM 
  21 inch monitor 
  Good graphics card 
  4 GB hard disk 
  Fast CD-ROM drive 
  64 MB RAM main memory 
  Sound card 
Auxiliary hardware includes one DIN A3 black & white and one colour laser 
printer. A central DIN A3 scanner is at the disposal of the whole library. The 
use of a PowerMac station is recommended. 
3. Supply of digital maps in the map collection
The speciality of the Map Collection of the ETH-Bibliothek lies in its 
diversified collection of digital maps, all simultaneously available: 
  CD-ROM products available at three local PC stations 
  Geographical Information Systems (GIS) 
  Internet search tool &$34;The World of Maps" 
  - Richly illustrated "Virtual Library Eduard Imhof" via the Internet 
  Digital atlas of Switzerland available at a PowerMac station 
  Basic collection of electronic index sheets to map series 
This parallel build-up of the different digital areas was only made possible 
through the competent work of several staff members of the Map Collection. 
CD-ROM products
Some 40 CD-ROMs are available, among them: Regional and world atlases, 
topographic maps, city and town plans, street atlases, thematic data bases like 
the World Climate Data Base, satellite images and geographical indexes. Our list 
of CD-ROMs can be viewed at the Website Map Collection: Electronic Media = 
Kartensammlung: Elektronische Medien. 
GIS products
Recently there has been a growing demand for GIS data available in databases. To 
meet this demand three PC stations were especially equipped. Users should have 
the knowledge to perform these kinds of database searches themselves. At the 
moment the following services can be accessed: 
  World: DCW (Digital Chart of the World) 
  Europe: Mountain High Maps 
  European Community: Eurostat-Regiomap 
  Switzerland: CH-Atlas 
  Switzerland: Digital general map 1:1,000,000 (Bundesamt f�destopographie) 

  Switzerland: Scenarios of population development (Bundesamt f�tistik) 
These services are to be extended rapidly, first with data from the GEOSTAT data 
base of the Swiss Federal Bureau of Statistics (e.g. digital geological and 
geotectonic maps, data of soil cover, indexes to nature and land reserves, 
population statistics) and then with world wide GIS data. 
Digital atlas of Switzerland
The "Digital Atlas of Switzerland" produced by the Institute of Cartography, ETH 
Zurich, is one of the most interesting projects in the field of national maps. 
It offers new ideas on presenting thematic maps, like three-dimensional 
portrayal of relief and panoramic views that can be modified in terms of 
orientation, height and incidence of light. The project was well received at the 
International Conference on Cartography in Stockholm. The ETH Map Department is 
proud as one of the first institutions to present this atlas to its customers. 
4. Finding maps on the Internet
The Swiss Internet site The World of Maps = Die Welt der Karten is an efficient 
tool for searching maps and spatial data on the World Wide Web. Comprehensively 
covering other areas of cartography such as map collections, map archives, map 
librarianship and map producers, and having links to numerous important Web 
sites makes the site one of the most interesting in the field of maps. The ETH 
Map Library is responsible for the maintenance and improvement of both the 
German and English versions. 
Fig. 3. Website "The world of maps = Le monde des Cartes = Die Welt der Karten" 
of the ETH-Bibliothek, Z� Switzerland. 
5. Digitizing our Holdings and the Internet Project "Virtual Library Eduard 
A further interesting possibility is the digitization of printed maps from the 
library's own holdings in order to obtain: 
  Security copies of printed map documents 
  Maps as thematic CD-ROMs 
  Maps for the image data base of the library 
  Documents as Web pages on the Internet 
  Images as visual information accompanying the textual catalogue entries 
The first project of digitization to be conducted was the registration of 
original documents of the well-known cartographer Eduard Imhof. Filming and 
digitizing these documents made it possible to present these works as a virtual 
library on the Internet. In cooperation with Mrs Viola Imhof, widow of the 
cartographer, this unique site Virtual Library Eduard Imhof - Cartographer and 
Artist was produced. More than 100 impressive images present the complete works 
of Imhof, complemented with biographical information, bibliographical references 
and an inventory of the originals. 
Fig. 4. Eduard Imhof (1895-1986) constructing the scalemodel 1:2,000 of the 
Fig. 5. Bird's eye view made by Eduard Imhof, 1895-1986 (pen and ink, water 
6. Electronic index sheets to map series
Digital maps can also be used for map librarianship.
Locating a map sheet of a map series has required consulting an index sheet. The 
computer technology has made it possible to find the sheets via a graphical 
catalogue on the screen. A first step is the implementation of electronic index 
sheets to map series, as for example Mr Joachim Lamatsch from Freiburg is 
developing. The Map Collection of ETH Zurich covers the whole area of Europe by 
these electronic index sheets. Not only do these index sheets offer valuable 
information to the users, but they can also be used for acquisition control. 
Newly purchased map sheets can easily be pasted to an index sheet by a mouse 
click. There are plans to link the index sheets with corresponding catalogue 
entries in the new cataloguing system of the ETH Bibliothek. 
Image information in catalogues
Textual catalogue information of map documents is often not satisfactory. A map 
image would certainly be of great help to the user and reduce the descriptive 
part of the catalogue entry. Agnes Kovacs, in her thesis submitted for the 
diploma Bildinformation in Bibliothekskatalogen - aufgezeigt am Beispiel eines 
Landkartenkatalogs, tried to gain some experience in finding strategies about 
incorporating visual information into future library catalogues. The resulting 
"Kartenkatalog mit Bildinformation" shows 40 examples of how attractive and 
useful catalogue entries can be with digital images. 
Spatial data, information about the earth, our living space, has become 
essential for today's world. With geographical information systems, it is 
possible to visualize vast amounts of geographically related data thanks to 
advanced computer technologies, the latter offering a powerful tool for analysis 
and practical work. The electronic or digital map is an important tool for 
The Map Collection of the ETH Bibliothek Zurich decided in 1993 to offer digital 
maps as well as traditional ones. 
Extensive research lead to technical solutions for hardware and software. The 
following was chosen: 
  PC: 233 MHz processor, 21 inch monitor, 4 GB HD, 64 MB RAM main memory, good 
  graphics card, 12x CD-ROM drive, 
  Peripheral hardware: Colour printer DIN A3, Scanner DIN A3, Connection to the 
  Software: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, ArcView (ESRI) 
The users of the Map Collection have a broad variety of digital maps at their 
  Approx. 40 CD-ROMs: Regional and world atlases, topographic maps, city plans, 
  road atlases, satellite images and geographical name indexes. 
  Geographical information systems: Digital Chart of the World (DCW), the Swiss 
  topographic map 1:1,000,000, etc. 
  "The World of Maps - Die Welt der Karten" 
  "Virtual Library Eduard Imhof" including more than 100 digital images of 
  original documents 
  "Atlas der Schweiz" (Atlas of Switzerland), an electronic atlas by the 
  Institute of Cartography of the ETH 
  Data inventory SIK-GIS: Comprehensive information about Swiss federal and 
  cantonal digital spatial data and geographical information systems. 

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