Check out Google’s new Map Gallery.
Sourced from various governments, nonprofits, and businesses, this newly launched service works as a jumping off point to locate historical and resource-based map collections. Once a map of interest is identified, the user can click in and see that map as an overlay, layered together with Google maps. See the examples below to get a better idea:
- 1814 published map of the Lewis and Clark expedition
- Ecological and cultural features and areas of northern Vancouver Island and the Central Coast (Living Oceans Society)
- 1995 Heart of the Rockies Map
- Bylaw Infractions – City of Edmonton
The City of Edmonton, interestingly, looks to be one of the largest initial publishers with 82 maps included.
As you can see, the maps are not simply older printed editions. A good number are current, and many of the digital ones are actively maintained.
It will be interesting to see how successful this collection is over time. This is a product that has all opportunity in the world to be successful. The concept is good. The resource support and quality of publishers involved look to be strong too.
So is there any reason it might fail? Personally, I think it’s possible.
Like most Google products, it will rely upon the strength of the Google brand and a pure ‘crowdsourced’ model. The collection itself will be allowed to grow naturally, and it won’t likely receive much in terms of a “collection development” plan — identification of gaps, approaching map publishers, archival repositories, and so forth.
This service might do perfectly fine with ‘seeding’ a few publishers like National Geographic. But will it become the ‘go to’ product for map location globally? Or might Google abandon it for a lack of profitability?
On early review, it looks very promising. But I suppose time will tell, both in terms of the product’s evolution and Google’s commitment.