The Florida State University Digital Library (FSUDL) has been a contributing member of the Digital Library of the Caribbean (DLOC) since its formation in 2004. Since then, the FSUDL has uploaded historic and rare maps of the islands to DLOC. These maps were created by some of the world’s most talented cartographers and explorers and our oldest map, created by Abraham Ortelius, dates all the way back to 1584.
The FSU Digital Library Center was asked by DLOC to contribute to the collection by selecting and photographing some of the unique maps held here in Special Collections & Archives at Florida State University. The intention was to expand the scope and geographic area of the existing DLOC collection and, once the maps were uploaded to the Digital Library, they would be made viewable to the public. The availability of these digital images will help reduce the wear-and-tear caused by repeated handling of these fragile maps.
In addition to adding more maps to the collection, the Digital Library Center at FSU decided to re-photograph its previously digitized maps that were originally captured on a now-obsolete piece of scanning equipment. The updated images were photographed by a more powerful overhead, medium-format camera and lighting kit which ensured the maps were digitized at a higher resolution. Now these high-quality images in the collection accurately represent the true detail and colors of these works of art.
Most of the maps in FSU’s previous contribution consisted mainly of the West Indies, Eastern Caribbean, Cuba and the Bahamas. However, the Digital Library Center has since included some areas of the Western Caribbean as well as parts of Central and South America.
Some of the images in the Caribbean Maps collection display detailed drawings, etchings and engravings printed with vibrant colors. Other maps are equipped with informative, color-coded keys that show which countries controlled the islands at the time. In these maps, each island is painted according to the colors in the key.
Stuart Rochford is the Digital Library Center manager at FSU and has worked with Strozier Library since 2011. He graduated from FSU with a BFA in graphic design and is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Library Science.