Maps and checking in

Jumping back into ANZ 23 Mobile Things for awhile, this week ‘Thing 4’ covers maps and checking in. So this is things like using google maps on your phone, foursquare, Readar, Facebook checkin, etc.

Once upon a time Kate and I were actually going to present at the last VALA on location-based services, and it’s still an area that libraries and cultural institutions could be exploring in more detail. For some reason I love maps, and I love apps that interact with maps, and websites that interact with maps. Pretty much if there is a map and something fun to do with it, I want in.

For someone who loves maps so much I am terrible at navigating and reading maps. I hate Apple maps (does anyone like them?) but I love having Google Maps on my iPhone (but not the current version) because my phone is small enough to spin around and always be pointing in the right direction and have the additional text directions in case I just completely fail. Look, I’m just more of a picture memory type person OK? Once I’ve been somewhere once I will be fine, and I’m alright with NO map, but give me a map and I am thrown.

I have really cut down my app use recently, but I still am quite the fan of Foursquare. I held out on joining for a long time because I was worried about people knowing where I was all the time …until I realised that I was tweeting those details anyway. So I signed up and was addicted and became the mayor of lots of places and I hardly ever cheated. Maybe just once or twice when I was engaged in some prolonged mayorship battles. Then one day I just had enough and I deleted my account completely. In hindsight I wish that I hadn’t, but at the time I just wanted to step away from having such constant online interaction.

So I rejoined. Now I use it far less and I only added people who I know quite well (and a couple who are overseas anyway). In terms of posting my checkins to Twitter or Facebook I hardly ever do it. Twitter mostly if I am out somewhere fun and might want to have a discussion around it, Facebook would be really rare. I hardly ever use the Facebook location tool and I am pretty sure I currently have it disabled for other people to check me in. I don’t really see the point of cross-posting everything all the time (that goes for all apps).

In terms of libraries and cultural institutions, for next week I will be writing a blog about tools such as Historypin so that’s a slightly different topic, but in this context I like the idea of creating tours around the library using Foursquare – or taking users OUTSIDE the library and into the surrounding area, or exploring the history of the suburb, etc. Thing 11 looks at Augmented Reality and apps such as Layar, and again you can have a crossover here. I think people should be able to engage with libraries from anywhere, and it doesn’t have to be “their” library that they’re engaging with. If the library has information about the spaces outside of their physical building I think it’s great if they can engage beyond their walls.

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On why my brain hurts

Well, I must confess today I haven’t read anything that wasn’t a tweet or facebook or something to do with work. I haven’t looked at any of the other library blogs, I haven’t opened google reader, I haven’t glanced at a newspaper.

All but one of the maps I catalogued today required quite a lot of research to narrow down to some sort of date range and it was really exhausting. With books you can put in a century or decade certain, or probable, but with maps they want you to be as specific as you can. This means finding any information you can on the map and then trawling through information to find correlations. This is where Trove is a lifesaver. Newspaper articles, digitised maps, sales plans, auction listings … a road, a name mentioned in passing… a court case… Also the State Records Archives Investigator the Dictionary of Sydney and a number of more specific sites depending on what type of map I have.

Sometimes there is just no clue. I was returning a map today that I’d catalogued awhile ago. You can view the record here, but while I’ve said it’s in Port Albert the only way I “know” this is because I am 99.9% sure I had the shelf-list card for that map. The only details on the map itself was the outline of a portion of land and the phrase “Scite for township”. No location, no date, no surveyor, no scale, nothing. I had that map for a long time before I catalogued it. I even sent it to our Original Materials Branch, to the Maps team, but no luck. It was really only when I had gone through the rest of this batch of shelf-list cards and there weren’t many maps left that I matched what little information there was and decided it was most likely that the card referred to this map.

When I have worked out where my map is, what it is, when it is from (and so on) I have to assign subject headings. Library of Congress Subject Headings. To fit my predominantly early Australian manuscript maps. With American spellings. Which, while it makes sense for keeping everything together, offends my sensibilities.

So you see some of the difficulties that fill my days.

Sometimes when I have spent my day searching for dates, locations, names, landowners, sheep stations, whatever, the last thing I want to do when I get home is use my brain.

Ah, who knew cataloguers did so much think and research? Well, there you go.