Visualization of the IAMSLIC membership

Long-time member Pauline Simpson noted recently that visualization is emerging as a primary method to present data, information and knowledge; indeed the 2013 IAMSLIC Conference has included this in its program topics. During 2013, ‘Creating georeferenced bibliographies using Google Earth and Geo-Commons: the Coos Bay Bibliography’ by Jenni Schmitt and Barb Butler. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, No. 71, 2012. www.istl.org/12-fall/article1.html was published; it reminded Pauline of the potential of geovisualization tools for information products. She suggested earlier this year that the IAMSLIC Membership was a suitable dataset for geovisualization and contacted several colleagues for feeback on the idea. As a result, an informal project team was formed, consisting of Pauline Simpson, Barbara Butler, Steve Watkins, and Kristen LaBonte, IAMSLIC’s current Membership Database Manager.

We extracted address information from the membership database, tested several geocoding services for translating addresses into latitude/longitude coordinates, and used the coordinates to create prototype maps. The prototypes uncovered the need to edit and update some of the membership data, including attempting to locate website addresses for as many member institutions as possible where they were lacking in the database. Steve wrote scripts to build the maps on the fly using live data from the membership database, ensuring that the map displays will be automatically updated to reflect any changes to the address information in the database. The team presented the maps to the Executive Board and received approval to make them an integral part of the IAMSLIC website.

When you visit the IAMSLIC home page, you will now see the more limited public map, whose markers only indicate the name of the library and then offer a link to the library’s or institution’s website; no personal information is exposed via the public map. The second map on the Membership Directory page is only visible after one logs in to the page with the IAMSLIC members’ password, but it gives the name of the member and a link to full contact information for that member, offering another way of looking up member information by location when one does not know the person’s name or institution.

We encourage you to take a look at the maps and to provide us with any feedback for improvements. Please note that member locations are only geocoded to the level of city. Since multiple members are located in some cities, to see all individual markers one needs to zoom in to the location on the map until the separate markers appear. We recommend that you also continue to consult the alphabetical listings or search the membership directory for a particular person or location.

–Pauline Simpson, Barb Butler, Steve Watkins and Kristen LaBonte

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