Maps and Spatial Data

Our mission is twofold here in maps and
spatial data. First is to preserve Oklahoma’s cartographic history and
heritage and second we are here to promote and support spatial research and
learning throughout the Oklahoma State University community. My name is Kevin
Dyck and the maps and spatial data curator here at the Edmon Low library. I work in
the maps and spatial data services department here in the basement. We have
a collection of more than a hundred and fifty thousand sheet maps down here so
like individual map pages maybe close to 200,000. We have a collection of over a
100,000 thousand aerial photographs those are photographs shot from an
airplane showing the earth below, and then also we have a collection of
several hundred atlases containing hundreds of maps and themselves. A way to
define mapping and I prefer to define mapping in a in a fairly general sense
and that is a symbolic representation of space and the maps that we have here in
our collection are generally maps of the earth. Maps can represent
extraterrestrial places such as Mars or the moon. They can also represent
someone’s DNA someone’s brain can be mapped, so truly mapping is a symbolic
representation of any kind of space. The way we use maps today is still for
navigation. Then there’s an emerging application where you can play augmented
reality games such as Pokemon go. Then there’s more specialized uses of maps
and spatial data. One use of our historical map collection is for
genealogy and family history where people want to see what their family’s
farm looked like back in the 1930s, so that’s where a lot of use of our
historical aerial photographs come in. We have land ownership maps going
back into the 20s and 30s where people can see who owned what and how much it
was worth going back through time, and then there’s uses such as demographic
research so for looking at the present-day spatial data has been
collected by the US Census Bureau since 1970 where you can actually trace and
analyze the growth and change of the population in the United States across
time. And then there are any number of academic research applications for maps
and spatial data ranging from geography to civil and environmental engineering
into the business world, and into the humanities. As well today map making
oftentimes takes place entirely on the internet. With the internet data and maps
themselves can be updated in near real-time, meaning you can see literally
what’s happening in the world on your screen. Maps help us not only find our
way in the world but they help us understand our place in the world. The
library’s website is and from there you can find
the website for maps and spatial data as well as our digital collection of almost
10,000 maps.

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