Celebrating our contributors
In this issue, the British Library's Dr. Philip Hatfield interviews Maurice Nicholson about his work with the Georeferencer project.
What drew you to the Georeferencer project?
I was initially drawn into the georeferencer project almost by accident. Someone I knew at my local museum, who I follow on twitter, always used to retweet links to various projects (in particular any involving digital media, both contributing input and accessing). Having always been interested in maps and mapping, getting alerted to georeferencer at the BL immediately grabbed my interest, and within a week all the first batch of maps had been successfully placed and I was the leading contributor leading to a visit to the BL with other top georeferencers.
Of all the contributions the Georeferencer makes to British Library collections which is the most exciting for you?
The contribution that Georeferencer makes to the BL collections that most excites me is when entire collections (like the original OS manuscript maps) which are not easily available elsewhere are made accessible to the public in a way that can be related to today's landscape. The latest batch of maps also produces some real 'gems' which would otherwise be hard to access, being in books that are relatively unavailable for the general public to discover.
Which members of the wider public do you think the Georeferenced maps are most useful to?
Having given a number of talks on the subject to local history groups, the type of people I have personally found that find the georeferenced maps of most use have been those who could use them in studies of the history of their locality. However, the maps now cover such a range, both geographically and historically, that people with all sorts of interests like city development or battlefields etc could find maps that interest and be of use to them.
What would you say to someone who was interested in contributing to the project?
I would always encourage anyone who was interested to have a go at georeferencing maps and contribute to the BL project, although I would give them the link to the synoptic index so that they can choose their own maps. There is still no easy way to do this through the BL georeferencer website and I think far too many people will be put off if the first maps selected at random for them prove to be too difficult to place successfully.