The Great Britain Historical GIS team at the University of Portsmouth, working with Klokan Technologies, are very pleased to announce that the Old Maps Online federated search portal for historical maps is now live, and available for everyone to use:
At launch, the portal covers five collections, and a bit over 60,000 maps:
A Vision of Britain through Time
David Rumsey Collection
National Library of Scotland
The portal covers the whole world, and including the Rumsey Collection means you will find something for everywhere. We are launching only four months into a fifteen month project, so we have time to add more collections.
We already have several additional map libraries which will definitely be added, but we are looking for more.
To be included, maps must have been scanned, obviously, and they must be directly accessible online without payment or passwords. There is no need for the maps to be in any particular viewer, but we need to hold the real-world coordinates of the corners; if you do not have these we can maybe help.
Although we have time to improve the site's software, it is already quite polished and we want to keep it simple: this is aimed at the generality of users, rather than either cartographic historians or GIS experts. Our aim is simply to help users find maps, and pass them to the relevant library's site to view them.
Our home page IS the search form, always displaying a map and usually automatically centring it on wherever you are in the world. You can then specify the area you want maps to cover, by zooming in and out, and panning around; and also the time period you want the maps to be from.
As you change these settings, the system automatically updates its list of best matches, and displays them as a scrolling list of thumbnail images to the right of the main display.
Click on a thumbnail and a pop-up shows further information about the map.
Click on the thumbnail in the pop-up and a separate tab should open in your browser, showing you the page for the map at the relevant library
-so for example, whether you can download the image depends on the library, not on us. That is about all the portal does, but it hopefully does it very well.