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From curation to creation: Transforming paper map collections into research-ready GIS datasets


How can librarians engage with the concept of collections in new ways? One answer to this question may be expanding the definition of collection management to include active creation and remixing of our collections. Taking on the role of data creator changes the narrative of what libraries do, enables librarians to model metadata creation standards and licensing best practices, and transforms existing analog collections into research-ready data collections. As a GIS and map librarian interested in these issues, I developed a project to scan physical maps from library collections and transform them into a GIS database covering 20th century Mongolia. The project resulted in a useful set of data for researchers, best practices that can be used in other similar projects, and an expanded concept of what it means to curate a geospatial collection.

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