ELAG 2009 Workshop: Workflow for scanned old maps in libraries

Name of the workshop:

Workflow for scanned old maps in libraries


ELAG 2009: New Tools of the Trade - 22.-24. April 2009, Slovakia
European Library Automation Group


Mgr. Petr Pridal (Curriculum Vitae)

Main subjects:
  1. Project OldMapsOnline.org and suggested workflow.

  2. Online georeference tool with support of improvable collaborative georeference for scanned maps.

  3. Old maps from libraries as a data source for GIS tools (via OGC WMS).

  4. Overlay for Google Maps and Google Earth a la MapTiler (demo).

  5. Map search and synthetizing a la MapSythetizer (video).
Discussion related to points:

Suggestions and comments on the workflow and tools being developed by the Old Maps Online Project. 

Expected decisions:

Metadata to store in the map database


There is an enormous amount of old maps and other historical documents in the collections of libraries and archives all over the world. Increasing numbers of these documents are being digitized every year to protect them from excessive use by publishing them online.
The standardized way of publishing a map - using a map server with support of the OpenGIS® Web Map Service (WMS) protocol - is rarely used.
Many diverse forms of publication inhibit or completely prevent us from reusing the published raster images of maps for further analysis or study by comparing maps or other documents by overlaying, but there is much more that could be gained when the document is published using open standards.

Therefore, we researched available publishing methods, to find and recommend the best way of fulfilling the following requirements:

  • Fast and comfortable viewer available for users through the web browser with no special extensions. Data published once should be reusable in different online viewers so the publisher/user could choose (or replace) the technology without the need to republish the raster data itself.
  • Maximum integration of published maps with existing systems (maps should be available under the WMS standard to allow cooperation with existing GIS software). The workflow should follow standards as much as possible.
  • Presentation in 3D viewers should be possible. Users should be able to find and see documents in applications like Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, NASA WorldWind, etc. 
  • Easy for data providers. Libraries and archives should be able to publish raster maps without the need to install and configure new software or hardware systems. No need for an IT professional on their side is one of the main requirements.
  • Expandable and open solution. Maximum usage of existing Open-Source tools. The whole publishing process should not depend on one product or one company. There should be a possibility of choice. 
  • Reasonable price. The necessary software tools need to be available for a reasonable price or preferably for free.

Related projects:

European projects: EuropeanaDigMap.eu, INSPIRE initiative
OpenSource projects like OpenLayers, MapServer, IIPImage, MapTiler, GeoNetwork, TimeMap

Details in the article:

Pridal, P. & P. Zabicka (2008). Tiles as an approach to on-line publishing of scanned old maps, vedute and other historical documents. e-Perimetron Vol. 3 (1) - ISSN: 1790-3769. P10-21, http://www.e-perimetron.org/

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Latest news from OldMapsOnline.org:

Supported by:


Moravian Library Brno, Czech Republic.
Czech R&D Project DC08P02OUK006 - OldMapsOnline.org