Friday, 26 February 2016

Good and bad news from the National Library of Australia

First the good. 40,000, out-of-copyright maps from the NLA's massive collection are now online in what it claims constitutes the world’s biggest library of free digitised historical maps. That's 5% of the collection. They date from the late 15th century to 50 years ago.

40,000 is pretty good going. According to The Australian the British ­Library has digitised 10,000 maps and the New York Public Library has released 20,000 maps. NLA's may not be the biggest, depending on how you count. The David Rumsey Map Collection claims over 66,000 historical maps and images online.

Where does LAC stand? An archived page from 2004 informs that "About 4,000 items from the catalogue, now in the public domain, have been digitized and may be consulted online. This number will increase on a regular basis." Searching LAC image search for Maps and cartographic material surfaces 5,559 items.

Now the bad news. Despite amazing productivity the NLA is slated for substantial budget cuts. The amazing productivity known around the world is Trove. Although it will continue "the library will also cease aggregating content in Trove from museums and universities unless it is fully funded to do so."

I personally have benefited from Trove have found newspaper items and a list of returned POWs including my father after his ship was sunk by a Nazi raider in 1940. They led the way in crowdsourcing correction to OCR'd material. Benefit to other international researchers is documented in this blog post. For more read Tim Sherratt's blog post #FUNDTROVE 

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