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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Assignment #2

First, I must start with a critique of the assignment. I did not like the question -- "which single map in the atlas is most important for state library and information professional to understand." To me, this question was read as, "which single demographic do you, as a library professional, want to focus on." This seems to be a short-sighted view of reality. There are so many factors in play that no one map should be seen as "better" than any other. There are many useful maps that provide varying degrees of "useful" information to librarians - I hesitate to be exclusionary. "Wisconsin's Past and Present" is a very informative and useful reference tool, but it's real strength is when you look at the maps as a collection - then they tell a story.
That being said, the task at hand is to answer said question. Looking through this book, several of the thematic maps jumped out to me as a possibility, but I settled on perhaps the most standard map of all. "Population & Representation" (pgs 82-83) concerns itself with congressional districts, but gives the history of population in Wisconsin. Two maps are included, one from 1882 and one from 2002, which visually maps the movement and increase in population over time. There is also a very useful chart, "Wisconsin's Population, 1836-2000," which not only reports state population, but also charts percentage of population in urban and rural areas. Brilliant! I like this map (or series of maps and charts) because it is straightforward and there isn't much to "read into" this map. It tells us where people are, and where they're not. Combine this information of where libraries are, and where they're not, and information about the fastest growing counties/cities in Wisconsin - librarians have a very powerful tool at their disposal.


At 8:50 AM, Blogger umaysay said...

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At 8:52 AM, Blogger umaysay said...

That is a good point. Yes, muli-perspectives and maps are more likely to help library professionals define the future plan. But, I think that at this point Greg suggests that we think over our emphasis. What map and information really do we need for supporting our assumption of library? It is kind of normative choice.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Natalie said...

I agree with Elizbeth that the sum of the historical atlas is much weightier than any of its parts. Simply, it is the story of Wisconsin, in a form that one can sit down and spend a Sunday afternoon with. I will be doing 10+ hours of driving this weekend and am actually going to bring the big thing along, as a contributor suggests in the foreword. Like Christy, I am not a native of Wisconsin and found the history tempered with geography a perfect way to orient newcomers with the state. In my 4th year as a resident, certain Wisconsin characteristics "made sense" after encountering them in the context of time and place presented in the atlas. I have had the conversation that there should be state citizenhood courses of some sort for bewildered newbies, and this atlas would be a great text. Also love that it is in paper form; in this case it is a very effective medium. The same information could be presented electronically, but this kind of information and the slow understanding one formulates of their "home" is suited to a source that sits on your bookshelf and enables the reader to flip through pages, looking for that something they read about previously and have recently encountered in this great state.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Ben said...

I agree that the question is too limiting. Particular situations call for particular perspectives, and maps should be tailored to those particular situations.


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