Preserving and Disseminating Cartographic Knowledge in the Digital Age

This year, the theme of the conference, preserving and disseminating geospatial knowledge, touches upon three overlapping questions: how do we preserve maps and other geographic sources regardless of format; how do we use this cartographic heritage to understand the past and its contemporary traces; and what is the role of the map librarian and archivist in democratizing access to geospatial data? These questions are not only asked in the cartographic realm: government and community archives, public and school libraries, documentation centres and museums, all memory institutions are facing the same challenges. Preservation through use is one possible avenue to answer these questions. The enemy is not technological obsolescence or a lack of understanding of the information, but rather the act of forgetting: no longer knowing how to read a map, not knowing the historical context of the map, no longer having access to historical data, etc. This presentation will address each of these three points—preservation, use and access—by reconciling the preservation role and the dissemination role of professionals as well as the access role of users.