May 26, 2022

University of Southern Maine’s Osher Map Library Profiled in NEH Magazine

From the NEH Article (approx 2500 words):

Close to 90 percent of the library’s 7,000 sheet maps have been scanned and are available online, but the vast majority are in bound atlases, only 10 percent of which have been digitized to date.

To create these high-quality images, two digital-imaging technicians are kept busy turning ancient maps, atlases, and globes into digital documents that will be accessible online. David Neikirk and Adinah Barnett work painstakingly in a darkroom equipped with multiple editing computers, lights, hoods, backdrops, diffusers, and an Ortery 3-D camera system. An example of their work is the digital likeness of a 1606 celestial globe by Willem Blaeu, a pupil of astronomer Tycho Brahe, for which they took 219 separate images. The globe was photographed on its stand (known as its “furniture”) and without its furniture; then the furniture itself was photographed. All these images became a kind of virtual flip book before editing turned them into a seamless digital image. The finished product is a 3-D image accessible online, but the library does not use the digital files to construct reproductions of their globes.

“We are the first institution in the world to create a fully rotatable, 360-degree, fully zoomable scan of a globe,” says Ian Fowler, director of the Osher Map Library, as he conducts a tour of the library.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Osher Map Library is Digitizing its Rare Globe Collection, Manipulate Globes Online (December 28, 2015)

See Also: Direct to Osher Map Library Web Site

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.