I attended a 1 day Digimap Collections training course run by EDINA and hosted by Birmingham City University at their Millennium Point campus in Birmingham. I resisted the urge to spend a day in the Think Tank (Birmingham Science Museum), and headed on inside learn about Digimap with a section of geography and built environment librarians and academics.
Our Digimap subscription includes the Ordnance Survey, Historic and Geology collections. As liaison librarian for archaeology and history, I deal mostly in Historic Digimap enquiries. EDINA is launching an Environment Digimap, which will be free to current subscribers, although we have to apply to JISC to activate.
Ordnance Survey is the current (up-to-date) map collection. It includes maps from very small scale road atlas size (metropolitan view), through small scale Landranger (city view), medium scale Explorer (street view), and large scale Mastermap (plan view). It is easy to search by place name, postcode or grid reference using Digimap Roam. The zoom functions allow you to switch between maps of different scale.
Useful tools on the Task Menu include Map Information which displays map product, date, coordinates and print scale information; and Map Content Control which allows you to swap between Raster maps and Vector maps, and select different map Themes (views). Raster maps are essentially map images; whereas Vector maps include layers of data, and are customisable (add/remove specific map features). You can also save maps using My Maps.
Once at your desired map, you can use the Annotation and Measurement Tools to mark up features and distances. For example you can add point, lines, shapes and labels. Annotations are a bit fiddly, especially when you go wrong, and try to undo your mistakes, but they can look very effective. Annotations can also be saved.
Historic Digimap includes Town Plans from 1848 to 1939, and County Series maps from 1846 to 1996. It works in a similar way: search for a map by place, postcode or grid reference, zoom in and out to find maps of different scale, and view maps from different periods of time. If the map is blurred, you may be looking at an overlapping map (one location was surveyed by two or more maps – especially as county boundaries), and select a single map view. My second favourite feature in Digimap is the ability to view two maps from different historical periods on screen using the 2 Up View icon.
My favourite Digimap feature, is the interoperability of Annotations between Ordnance Survey and Historic Digimap. For example, in Ordnance Survey you can search for your postcode, mark your house, and save annotations; and then go Historic Digimap and open your annotations to view the location of your house across time.
All maps can be printed, and you can select the area and print scale. You can print maps as image or PDF files. The maps include a copyright statement that allows use for educatonal (non commercial) purposes. You can also export data to use in GIS (Geographical information Systems) software. We had a go at exporting data for use in ArcGIS – although this is a little out of my comfort area!
The Digimap Resource Centre includes a variety of guides and tutorials (from quick reference to technical data downloads) that can be used by liaison librarians with students. We also learned about a new open access Fieldtrip GB mobile map app for iPhone and Android. This may be useful for students collecting data on archaeology and geography field trips.