Wednesday, October 11, 2006

History of the GCMC

Destination Memory Lane: History of the Geospatial Center & Map Collection

In recent years the size of the collection has expanded, and the services provided by the Geospatial Center & Map Collection have multiplied--augmented by the GIS resources available in the GIS lab. But this is not the first time in the history of the GCMC that expansion has been so dramatic.

The original Map Collection space in Bracken Library when the library opened was located in BL 218--now the Dean's office. Government Publications was housed in the current GCMC location. The photograph above shows how the GCMC space looked when it was occupied by Government Publications. (Photograph courtesy of Ball State University Archives & Special Collections Research Center).

A consultant from the Library of Congress actually determined the space specifications for the Map Collection in 1971. The consultant, Frazier Poole, designed a space for housing 50,000 maps and office space in BL 218. However, in the early Map Collection space, there was not an adequate area for patrons to actually research and review the maps or for staff to process and repair maps. Paul Stout, Assistant Professor Emeritus Library Services and retired Map Librarian, said that the space was limited. "We were so crowded that we stored maps in locked cases outside the Map Collection along the east wall of BL 218." Also atlases were not located near the Map Collection as they are today, so sometimes patrons had to travel all over the Library for resources.

Finally in the summer of 1993, the burgeoning Map Collection was moved to its current location in BL 224--doubling its available space. This was important because the collection itself had more than doubled in size. Government Publications was moved to its current location near the Reference area, and atlases were transferred to become part of an "annex" to the Map Collection, which provided more convenient use for patrons.

The most recent expansion of the GCMC occurred ten years later in the summer of 2003. A GIS lab with eight high-end computers was installed to provide services for patrons using GIS software for their research and educational needs. The GIS Specialist was added to the staff in the fall to provide assistance with GIS projects. And now both the maps and atlases in the collection have mushroomed to include over 140,000 maps and nearly 3,000 atlases.

Visitors are welcome to take a trip down memory lane in the Geospatial Center & Map Collection in its current location on the second floor of Bracken Library...or at least find a map of Memory Lane in the collection.

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