About this project
The British Library’s Georeferencer project is crowdsourcing location data to make a selection of its vast collections of maps fully searchable and viewable using popular online geotechnologies.
Online geographic tools allow historic maps to be overlaid on modern mapping, enhancing the ability to view and compare the past with the present, and improving findability. Georeferencing, i.e. assigning points on a map image to corresponding geographical coordinates, links the map to its spatial location on the ground using universal geographic standards (latitude / longitude).
The British Library began a project to crowdsource the georeferencing of its scanned historic mapping by partnering with Klokan Technologies to customise its online georeferencing tool. There have been three previous releases of maps, all of which met with tremendous success, and in total over 2400 maps have been "placed" by the public.
The Library’s collection of first-edition Chas E Goad Co. fire insurance plans is the centrepiece of this latest release of November 2013. This mapping provides detailed information about buildings, land use and urban design in the major centres of population in Britain and Ireland at the turn of the twentieth century (1886-1930). This is the largest release of maps in BL Georeferencer yet, and includes over 2500 plans covering 53 towns, cities and ports. See the curator’s introduction for further information about the collection. In addition, two smaller map collections have been included in this release. One is related to Britain and the American Civil War, and the other is a selection of WWI maps.
Previous releases included a variety of maps dating from as early as the 16th century up to the twentieth century. Initially, two well-known British collections were released The Ordnance Surveyors’ Drawings and the Crace Collection of maps of London, followed by materials from King George III’s Topographical Collection and maps contained within 16th and 17th century manuscripts. The variety of materials then expanded even further, reflecting a wider date range and geographic coverage. Maps of a modern vintage represented the themes of car, rail and air transport, along with topographic and military mapping. This has resulted in a better-rounded, if less orderly, representation of UK mapping.
Through georeferencing, the selected maps were spatially enabled, making them geographically searchable and able to be visualised using geospatial tools and combined with other maps online. All georeferenced maps are added to the portal Old Maps Online, which uses a geographic search interface to identify and view historic maps from numerous collections online.
The Library is grateful to all the participants who generously contributed their time. Special thanks are extended to the expert panel of Reviewers, whose work to ensure the high quality of results was substantial. The appointed BL Georeferencer Reviewers are:
Any queries about this project should be directed to email@example.com. To connect with other users of this technology and participate in discussions, join the User Group of our technology supplier, Klokan Technologies, at http://help.georeferencer.com/user-group.
For more information on the initial implementation of the British Library Georeferencer, see
- KC Kowal and P Pridal. “Online georeferencing for libraries: the British Library implementation of Georeferencer for spatial metadata enhancement and public engagement” Journal of Map & Geography Libraries: Advances in Geospatial Information, Collections & Archives, 8:3, 276-289. (To request a copy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org) For information about georeferencing in libraries in general, see C Fleet, K. Kowal and P. Pridal “Georeferencer: crowdsourced georeferencing for map library collections”. D-Lib Magazine 18(11/12): 2012. doi:10.1045/november2012-fleet Online access http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november12/fleet/11fleet.html