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Libraries need to provide attractive and exciting discovery tools to draw patrons to the valuable resources in their catalogs. The authors conducted a pilot project to explore the free version of Google Earth as such a discover tool for Portland State Library’s digital collection of urban planning documents. They created eye- catching placemarks with links to parts of this collection, as well as to other pertinent materials like books, images, and historical background information. The detailed how-to-do part of this article is preceded by a discussion about discovery of library materials and followed by possible applications of this Google Earth project. In Calhoun’s report to the Library of Congress, it becomes clear that staff time and resources will need to move from cataloging traditional formats, like books, to cataloging unique primary sources, and then providing access to these sources from many different angles. “Organize, digitize, expose unique special collections” (Calhoun 2006).
Google has posted locations found in some texts (Michael Jones’ demo at the New York State Geospatial Summit showed only publicly available ones) to Google Earth. When you click on a placemark you jump to the book’s page and to the exact page on which the location information was found. And you get a Google Map of all the places mentioned in the book.
Here are 2 examples. Scroll to the bottom of the book’s “about” page, and you’ll see a google map of every place mentioned!
This is definitely an indicator of where the net is going. As David Weinberger posits (and I’m seriously paraphrasing!), in his new book, Everything is Miscellaneous, the seemingly paradoxical idea of opening up or giving away your library’s metadata to the world is what will drive users to your library.