Saturday, 15 November 2014

Paper or online? (Paper)

Is it a map? Çatalhöyük, Turkey, 6000 BC
Today I'm working on The Story of Maps, the next in my Story Of... series. The principal source I want to use for the theoretical history and development of cartography is the seminal work on the subject, The History of Cartography, edited by J. B. Harley and David Woodward and published by University of Chicago Press in 1987. But.... although I have Cambridge University Library on my doorstep, there is only one volume of the series available in Cambridge. (It is, happily, in Newnham College Library and as that is my current college affiliation, I can easily see it.) Here are my options:

go to London and use it in the British Library. Can't afford to - £15 a day each day I need to go, which will be many - perhaps 20

buy it.
Can't afford to - each volume changes hands at around £150 and there are seven.

use it online.
This is what I'm doing. The whole thing is available as PDFs from the UCP website - which is a brilliant resource and very generous of them.
It is a map - Jianxi, China, 18th century

 I am hugely grateful that it's there, but I would SO MUCH prefer to use paper copies. Then I could flick through to find pictures of maps I want to discuss. I wouldn't have to wait for hi-res images to appear on the page (not normally a problem, but after my poor computer has buffered about 50 of these it starts to get tired).

The frustration with using the electronic version will probably boost sales of the paper copies. I'm going to be filling in recommendation slips for CUL to buy all the volumes. But this is just the sort of book that should be a real, paper book.