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- Database of old maps

General Information
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History of the project:
In 1985 an initiative of the German Research Council (DFG) and the three most important map collections in German libraries, the Bavarian State Library in Munich, the State Library of Lower Saxony/University Library of Goettingen and the State Library Berlin was the starting point for the cataloguing project „Cataloguing of historically valuable map holdings before 1850". During the first five years of the project maps were catalogued offline in various datapools. In the autumn of 1991 the German Library Institute (DBI) based in Berlin set up a joint online cataloguing system called IKAR.

In the year 2000 the database of old maps was transferred to the GBV (Common Library Network) Union Catalogue where it is accessible to every one searching via the internet. The database also offers to other map collection departments the possibility to enter their data relating to old maps.

Contents: The database contains printed maps published up to 1850: world maps and city plans of all parts of the world, topographic and thematic maps, atlases with sheet index, panoramas, bird’s-eye views, profiles, and globes, as well as facsimiles and electronic resources from the collections of the participating libraries. At the end of 2012 the database of old maps contained bibliographic entries of ca. 269,700 map titles with about 320,000 locations as well as links to 4,520 digitised old maps which are available online.

Manuscript maps have been excluded from the project, as it is necessary to still develop proper cataloguing guidelines for these materials.

Cataloguing and classifying:
In order to have a precise identification of single maps in the datapool, the recording libraries agreed on listing all titles, additions to titles, variants of titles as well as dedications to personalities which may appear on the item. As far as possible, missing bibliographical information regarding maps and the people involved in their production is added by research in reference books on the history of cartography. In addition, information is provided regarding the history of publication of some maps and further literature is indicated as well. When maps lack a date of publication the indication of the placement of graphical elements (cartouche of title or scale) makes it easier to distinguish between different maps. The classification of maps is enlarged by the identification and description of cartographical specialities. The orientation of maps, their basic underlying grid system (definition of the prime meridian) as well as the method of landscape representation are precisely explained. The information on the scale of a map is given in the same graphical form in which it appears on the map itself. Subject classification of the listed maps is done according to their geographical relation (standardized geographical subject headings) and according to what they represent (e.g. a map showing a siege).

You may access the IKAR-database in the Internet via the GBV Union Catalogue:
There is also a CD-ROM version of the map database (last update 1996).

Klemp, Egon: Grundsätze und erste Ergebnise der Neukatalogisierung von Altkarten in deutschen Bibliotheken. - In: Inspel, 1994: S. 62-66

Klemp, Egon: Die Erfassung von Altkarten in der IKAR-Datenbank - gegenwärtiger Stand und künftige Entwicklungsmöglichkeiten. - In: Gerhard Mercator und seine Zeit. 7. Kartographiehistorisches Colloquium Duisburg, Oktober 1994, Vorträge und Berichte. - Duisburg, 1996: 225-232 (Duisburger Forschungen ; 42)

Wiegand, Günther: Das DFG-Programm zur Erschließung historisch wertvoller Kartenbestände. - In: Kartographische Nachrichten 43.Jg., Heft 5, 1993: S. 190-192

Wiegand, Günther: Die Erschließung historisch wertvoller Kartenbestände : Ziele, Verlauf und Bilanz eines Förderprogramms der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft. - In: ZfBB 40 (1993), 1: S. 22-31

Wiegand, Günther: Wegweisung in eine vergangene Welt. Erschließung historischer Kartenbestände. - In: Forschung. Mitteilungen der DFG 1995, Heft 2-3: S. 28-30

Wiegand, Günther: Showing the Way into a Past World. Cataloguing Historical Maps. - In: German Research 1996, Heft 1: S. 16-18

Wolff, Hans: Die Erschließung von Altkarten an der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. - In: Bibliotheksforum Bayern. - 14 (1986): S. 105-121





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