There aren’t many precedents for a Cartographic and Topographical Materials departmental blog. Even if one includes pre-web incarnations such as log-keeping, reports and dispatches, early communication by British Museum/Library departments was underpinned by principles of formality and ‘need to know.’
In 1880, for example, when quaintly known as the ‘Map Library’, the department’s head R.H. Major was requested in writing by the principal librarian to
‘forward to me, as soon as you conveniently can, a report on the business done in the Department of Maps and on the nature and extent of the additions made to the collections under your charge,’ adding:
‘please cause the account of progress to be written out on one side only of the paper.’
Such extravagance in stationary usage did not extend to the language and content of the response, cursorily written with figures and understatement.
It is with revulsion that our predecessors would surely have greeted this first instalment of the Cartographic and Topographical departmental blog, formally the blog of last year’s British Library Magnificent Maps exhibition. Written by members of the curatorial team, the blog is a space for us to unashamedly communicate the work of the department and aspects of the collection, our projects, events and exhibitions, as well as allowing for comment upon maps, views and mapping in their wider contexts.
It seems appropriate for us to join the clamour of map-related online content. Map collections and their users continue to shape perceptions of cartography and topography. Mapping is increasingly created in diverse media, and ever more broadly defined. As things we use to define ourselves, the relevance of maps is arguably greater now than ever.
Hopefully, this blog will serve to remind you why maps are important, and with no economising on paper.
Twitter feed: #BLMaps