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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Week 2 assignment: WCG Atlas

If I were a Wisconsin state library administrator who just moved to the state after being hired, I would find this historical atlas as a whole extremely useful for understanding the cultural and natural histories of Wisconsin. The atlas does a great job at providing a context for decision-making in the state. While I do not think that any one of these maps alone could accurately describe a population and its library and information needs, I do think the "Population & Representation" spread (pp. 82-83) is the one that would stick out at me the most as a state library administrator. Particularly, understanding Wisconsin's uneven population distribution and population shifts would give clues to the services that the state needs to focus on. By conceptualizing the Wisconsin population as one that has been moving from rural places to urban places over the last 100 years or more (as has much of the world), we can get a general idea of the changes in information needs that are occuring. Knowing, for example, that in the north part of the state large historic mining populations are gradually becoming urbanized might change the emphasis of certain collections. Spatial flows of information at the state scale require abstracted views of populations - what is the location of a certain group of people with a generalized set of characteristics? Knowing this, not the detailed demographic information that city surveys or census tract data may provide, is what state administrators would probably be most concerned with, and is where this map spread excels. I feel that Jeff's post about the "Educational System" spread would be my second choice because it is another avenue that gives us clues about the characteristics of populations throughout the state.

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