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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Week 2 assignment, GIS workshop

The Wisconsin's Past and Present atlas emphasizes peoples, both indigenous and immigrant, then traditional geographic categories like land forms, land uses, and commerce. Traditional narrative history is bypassed in favor of a variety of topics in the categories of boundaries and political movements. I don't see a map dedicated to the Civil War, for example, but there are a number of index references to it. The focus of the atlas reflects the fact that it is a cooperative effort with multiple authors, structured with general subject maps complemented by maps on a narrow topic, which are intended as examples to be expanded on by future mapmaking.

The most useful single map for librarians shows institutions of higher education in 2002 ("Public and Private Colleges and Universities, 2002," pp. 89, in the section, "Educational System"). While earlier maps dealing with population segments, voting behavior, et al., might be helpful, this map shows the locations of UW system 2- and 4-year campuses along with private colleges and technical schools. Besides points on the map indicating each institution, Technical College system districts are shown by shading around a headquarters indicated by a diamond. It's a current truism that educational institutions stimulate economic development, a truism which is mostly fact. A library planner can anticipate that educational institutions will bring students and faculty to a city, and that these people will demand services and cultural amenities that can be predicted. They will have an impact on local school systems; they will affect information use in the community. These effects can spill over into the public library. As institutional libraries grow, they will change the public library environment and thus alter services and collections over time. On a finer level, library planners can look at the type, relative size, and mission of institutions and have a sense of what kind of student and faculty population they are getting. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a large international faculty which makes Madison one of the most cosmopolitan small metropolitan areas in the United States. It would not be out of place to have at least some "high-brow" literature in foreign languages in some of the city's branch libraries. On the other hand, in Mequon, the needs of faculty at the local Technical College will be somewhat different from those of professors at Concordia University Wisconsin of Mequon, a four-year private college run by the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.


At 8:22 PM, Blogger Natalie said...

Diversity is of great interest in librarianship, evident in SLIS coursework, professional associations (i.e. ALA) and in everyday duties of practicing librarians. For this reason, I found the Newest Arrivals (p. 28-29) theme the most important for library and information professionals to encounter, digest and understand.

Fundamentally, a librarian should know the community they serve. This entails an understanding of the demographics present in their community, county and greater surroundings. The Hispanic and Asian American Population maps are simple to reference and interpret. One can easily understand the populations present in their service area.

Throughtout the atlas, I was impressed with the layers of information they were able to successfully represent. The map insets make obvious connections to the larger maps. Varied font and placement of text leads the eye between subjects. Artfully done, the reader does not have to flip pages or *remember* to go back and read a box that looked interesting.

The Migrant Worker Routes inset places the reader in history, in place and in an intelligible settlement pattern. The inset map visually proves the text that the "newest arrivals" are coming to Wisconsin from other parts of the US. Alternately, some of the text does not need a map to illustrate its intended point. At the page break, the number of migrant workers in 1961 is identified as 18,000. The following sentences descibe the mechanization of crop harvesting and recounts that the number of migrant jobs fell to 3,500 by 1978. No visual is needed to see the displacement of people influenced by agricultural changes.

Reviewing all text and visual information, it is evident that the Hispanic population of Wisconsin was influenced by labor and agricultural patterns while Asian American populations in Wisconsin were shaped by foreign policy and warfare.

Again, the inset map and text in the Asian Arrivals section exponentially add value to the larger population map, giving the reader with no political, historical or geographical knowledge the tidbits they need to create a bigger picture understanding. Illustrating the diversity within the Asian American population itself nods to the complexity of "understanding diversity."

To close, this is by no means an exhaustive discourse of the Hispanic and Asian populations in Wisconsin, but this 2 page theme holds some great information and feels very at home in this historical atlas presentation. It would behoove library and information professionals of Wisconsin to have a grasp on the historical situations presented and the facts/factors behind the shaded counties on the population maps.

At 10:22 PM, Blogger Christy said...

First, I was rather in awe of the sheer amount of information contained in Wisconsin's Past and Present. It was fascinating for me, a Wisconsin transplant, to learn so much information about my new home. It was even more interesting to see represented certain things I had heard about, such as the bombing of Sterling Hall, and have that put in the context of the wider series of protests in the map The Vietnam War at Home (pg. 78).

Some of the maps were disturbing, such as the Weather Hazards Map (pg. 46). Who knew I was living in such a tornado prone county? Other maps simply caught my interest. I enjoyed the Religious Groups and Patterns Map (pg. 31) very much. I wonder though about how the information is represented. From a sheer area prospective (at a county level) it looks a lot like WI was predominantly Catholic. Yet a lot of the Catholic shaded areas were Northern counties, which maybe are not as populous as the other Luthern counties, which maybe had more people. In which case the picture it paints might be different if you compared total populations for the state.

As for useful maps for librarians, I agree with Natalie that understanding the community that your library serves is of paramount importance, and in that vein, population maps of immigrants are useful and important. I also think though, that some of the other maps, showing European immigrants or religions patterns can also be useful. Most communities didn't evolve from nothing, or start from point x. They have a rich history that even if no longer current, leaves it's influences. A professor made the point with Friday Night Fish Fries and how a librarian trying to do library programming on Friday nights didn't understand why there were no people. They were at the fish fry. Here's an example of a tradition held over from the German Catholic immigrants, that still influences the community today, even if the demographic of Madison or WI isn't predominantly German Catholic anymore.

I was impressed overall with all of the information they managed to encapsulate, and I noted in both the forward and intro they mentioned the role that new technologies made in their ability to put together an atlas like this. I am assuming they are referring to our new friend, GIS.

At 12:56 AM, Blogger Molly said...

Like Natalie, I believe that the newest arrivals maps are the most important for state librarians and information professionals to understand. Because libraries essentially exist to serve the community, it is important to understand the demographics of the current and potential communities that the library is to serve. If librarians and information professionals are able to keep tabs on community changes and anticipate how the library must change - adding Spanish, Hmong, ot Japanese materials for example - then libraries will continue to be relevant community institutions.

These maps highlight the fact that there is a need for materials and services for non-english speaking individuals in much of the state. This helps illustrate the fact that it is not just a few people here and there, but whole communities of new immigrant populations bringing new needs to the libraries and information professionals in Wisconsin.

I really like the fact that the map on Hispanic populations in Wisconsin does not lump all Hispanics together, but attempts to differentiate between Mexicans and Cubans, for example. It is important to remember that Mexicans and Cubans have different cultural identites and may have different information needs.

The historical background accompanying the newest arrival maps also provides useful information. Part of being able to build a community and providing resources for that community is understanding where community members are coming from. Librarians and information professionals are able to serve users better when they know not only where people in the community come from, but also "where" they are coming from - i.e. norms, beliefs, background.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Caroline Sietmann said...

Kristy, I'm so glad you commented on the 1960's map/Sterling Hall bombing. I really wanted to write about this one. The map shows the extent of conflict on campus and in Madison. Who knew that so many events took place so near us? I didn't. And they took place such a relative short time ago. Libraries on campus and downtown should have information on these events and on their larger contexts. Libraries should also recognize that people with beliefs similar to those of the protestors still do reside in Madison.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger salim said...

I am glad to see Jeff's comment on the importance of Academic Libraries map on page 89. The spillover affect can also be in terms of tremendous resources by way of students who act as volunteers for local libraries, and indeed also work in public libraries. Academic libraries can partner with public libraries to increase the impact of libraries especially in terms of providing expertize. They also provide a context and conduit for extra material. For example, a professor from a local university can give a lecture on Hmongs and/or have Hmongs talk about where they are coming from. But if one were to want to know more information, the academic library can be a great resource. The key is that academic libraries should partner, not compete with public libraries. This map points out existing resources which could be used for stategic decisions with respect to locating new libraries.

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Molly said...

I would also like to add to Jeff's comments the fact that that map also points to places where there are no educational institutions and where public libraries might have to be the sole source for info if there are no colleges and universities around.


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