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DIGIMAP: National on-line Access to Ordnance Survey Digital Map Data

Project web site

Programme area

Contact details
Mr David P. Ferro, Co-Director, Project Manager,
Edinburgh University Library University of Edinburgh Edinburgh EH8 9LJ
Phone: 0131 650 3405 Fax: 0131 650 3380

Peter Burnhill, Co-Director
Computing Services Main Library Buildings University of Edinburgh Edinburgh EH8 9LJ
Phone: 0131 650 3301 Fax: 0131 650 3308

Project description

as of 24th July 1996


The University of Edinburgh will examine the problems and opportunities facing map libraries within Higher Education Institutions in providing access to Ordnance Survey Digital Map Data.

The problems arise because the traditional means by which end users consult large-scale (1:1250 and 1:2500) paper maps is under threat. This is due primarily to the rising price of such maps, shrinking resources within libraries, and the substitution of paper map production by digital map products. The demands upon the levels of technical skills in the use of equipment and digital map data also pose problems for both the map librarian and the end user. The fact that Ordnance Survey maps remain current leads to problems with tracking the changing landscape; this needs to be addressed through the creation of an archive.

On the other hand, digital map data present opportunities. They allow users to escape the limitations of the printed map such as specificity of scales, discontinuities of the paper sheet and decay of currency of information. They also offer the prospect of increased and more effective access, given recent advances in high speed communications and desktop software. Lastly, other topographic and thematic data may be integrated.

The Digimap project seeks to examine these problems and opportunities.


The Digimap project is funded for two years from 1996. The main aim is to identify and assess appropriate service models by which staff and students in HEIs may gain cost effective and timely access to map data. The project adopts an action research approach. The first stage is to design and provide a working service demonstrator that supports both end user access and the work of university map librarians. This will then be tested in five participating libraries during the academic session 1996/97. Volume of data use and the performance of the demonstrator will be monitored in order to enhance service delivery. To meet the needs of map users and librarians the service demonstrator will have to make available OS mapping, facilitate customisation of the data and the integration of OS and other digital data, and address the issue of the historical sequence in map data. Digimap already has some large and small scale map data available, including Strategi, which EDINA is responsible for networking to licensed HEI users. The project seeks to exploit the outcome of the current JISC-Ordnance Survey negotiations on the wider availability of map data. In the context of the eLib Programme, the lessons learned during the process of creating the service and the findings on the roles, objectives and skills acquisition of map librarians in handling map data will be as important as the successful development of a networked, national data service.


Digimap will have three project staff based in the Data Library and associated with EDINA, one of three JISC National Dataset Centres in the UK. The participants are, from north to south:
  • Aberdeen University Library (contact: Graham Steele)
  • Edinburgh University Library (contact: Ann Sutherland, Sheila Dunn)
  • Newcastle University Library (contact: Chris Hagar)
  • The Map Library, Bodleian Library, Oxford University (contact: Nick Millea)
  • Map Library, Department of Geography, Reading University (contact: Bob Parry)
These provide a cross-section of the map library services in HEIs. The Co-Directors of the Project are Peter Burnhill (EDINA) and David Ferro (Edinburgh University Library) who also acts as Project Manager.

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