Festival of Maps

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Reprinted from Base Line, a newsletter of the Map and Geography Round Table of the American Library Association, Volume 28, Number 3, June 2007.

The Festival of Maps Chicago, with its theme of “Exploration, Discovery, and Mapping,” recently opened on November 2nd and continues into 2008. Festival events take place at over 30 locations throughout the city, highlighting “advances in modern cartography as they apply to our earth and the skies above.” Ongoing exhibits include “Rare African Maps, 1561-1915” at Northwestern University Library; “Mapping Manifest Destiny: Chicago and the American West” at the Newberry Library; “Mapping the Universe” at the Adler Planetarium; and “An Atlas of Radical Cartography” at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Upcoming seminars and lectures include “Mapping the World from Ancient Babylon to the Ottoman Empire,” an all day symposium at the Oriental Institute; and “Cosmic Cartography Journey through the Universe,” a lecture offered by the Art Institute. For more information and a detailed schedule of upcoming events visit the Festival of Maps Chicago website at http://www.festivalofmaps.org.

The following is a list of websites offering fun and games with maps; for more ideas, ask your librarian.

Percival Lowell, Detail of Plate IV from Observations of the Planet Mars, from the Adler Planetarium exhibit
Percival Lowell, Detail of Plate IV from Observations of the Planet Mars, from the Adler Planetarium exhibit

Online Maps and Internet Resources

Games Relating to Maps and Geography

For something completely different, why not brush up on your geography with these online treats. Each is a little different and some require various levels of expertise. All are fun.

Map Games

Contains a variety of games and quizzes, a few of which include: Map GeoTournament; US Capitals Map Game; Geographic Continent Map Game (Africa, Asia, Europe, etc. The South East Asia Map Game should be a workout); USA Jigsaw Map Game; Crossword Map Game; Russia Map Game (test your post-breakup knowledge); and the Super Quiz Map Game.

Just For Fun Map Game

By Rethinking Schools, an organization of activist teachers who publish educational materials. They have a geography naming test for North Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia. Drag the name of the country to the proper location on the map. If you are correct, the country is highlighted with its name in place; if you are wrong, you get a red “X” and get to try again.

Ashley Hunt,  A World Map in Which, from
Ashley Hunt, A World Map in Which, from "An Atlas of Radical Cartography" at UIC

Where Is That?

Select a continent and game level (1=easiest, 5=hardest). For each screen, identify the correct country (or state). Check the correct box or type in the name (spelling counts). You will receive a grade on these.

U.S. Map Test

Challenge your friends to see if they can put the names of all 50 states onto a U.S. map. Take the test against a clock. Try your luck.

Test your Geography Knowledge

On the Lizard Point site. Try the following links as well: Lyndsey’s Mania: http://www.lizardpoint.com/fun/index.html and: How Far Is It? http://www.lizardpoint.com/fun/howfar/howfar.html Place start and stop points to find out how far away the two map points are.

Fun With Maps (USA Today)

Fun With Maps

Features image files that you can download or print, to cut-out and paste to construct models of the Earth, planets, the Sun, and a number of planetary satellites (e.g., Ganymede). The main model type lets you create icosahedron (20-sided polyhedron) models. You can also find files to create cylindrical views of planets and satellites. An additional page has files for creating 3-D models on a computer with the proper (dxf file compatible) software. Other models exist but are not available at this time. There are also links to planetary art and other Solar System resources. See the Solar System Maps and Models page for a list: http://www.planetscapes.com/maps/.

All of these sites will give you a chance to test yourself and others (also a good way to review too). The next few sites are fun too, though of a different sort.

Fun Maps USA

Here is a collection of “cartoon maps” created by an artist to meet the needs of various organizations and cities. Cartoon maps contain caricatures or drawings of geographical features and places of interest for a region. This is a good site to see just for the fun of it. It may also provide ideas to use for local fund-raisers and other activities, since the artist does custom maps.

Fun With Google Maps

Google Maps has inspired an explosion of uses for its database of maps, and people demonstrate the infinite nature of imagination and (sometimes) a little silliness. The “Street View” feature on Google Maps has some privacy advocates in a tizzy, and has the rest of us searching for hidden gems. Take a look at this page and Laudon Techs New Street View Gallery.

Other Online Maps

Chicago Crime Maps

Creative use of statistics and GIS. Using crime statistics and Google Maps, the creators developed a series of maps showing crime in Chicago by such themes as: type of crime, zip code, ward, police district, and more. The website has also begun to archives data and maps allowing for time-oriented studies.

Quick Reference Maps

Need a map of a country or region, and need it fast? Try this site.

The Gold Regions of California, 1849, from the Newberry Library exhibit
The Gold Regions of California, 1849, from the Newberry Library exhibit

Air Quality Maps for the United States

AirNow is an inter-agency organization that monitors and reports air quality for the United States and Canada. Ozone and Particle pollution (called “particulate matter” PM) are shown by maps. Local and state-wide data is also illustrated here. See forecasts, current conditions, and an archive of previous conditions. There is also an International Air Quality page.

Make sure to view the Air Quality Index (AQI), for daily air quality reports for over 300 American cities. It tells how clean or polluted the outdoor air is for a location, and associated health effects. “The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. The EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health.”

Sightseeing With Google Satellite Maps

View satellite images of countries, cities, and individual places. This site calls itself the “original Google Satellite Maps repository.” It contains over 11,058 destinations at present. There is also a section of unusual images from space. An example is the following, showing what happens when you tile images from different angles: http://www.satellite-sightseer.com/id/8033/United_States/Illinois/Chicago/TRANSIENT__Escher_Skyscraper_Drawing__Chicago__1_

Wild Sanctuary

Julie Andrews, honorary chair of National Library Week 2008

Julie Andrews is the honorary chair of National Library Week 2008, April 13–19. Read, watch, listen to, or download National Library Week announcements starring the legendary actor.

This is a project to combine maps with recordings of nature in its location. It is from a commercial recording site but the concept is a unique use of mapping tools.

County Formation New York 1683-1915

Animated map showing New York’s changing county boundaries.

Map of the Tree of Life Project

This site illustrates the branches and leaves of the Tree of Life connecting all organisms on Earth. Has documentation to assist users.

Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands in Ontario: A Summary of Information

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Publications produced this report that is more of an atlas, with a series of detailed maps describing the wetlands adjoining the Great Lakes region in order to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great lakes basin ecosystem.

“The report updates and consolidates information on coastal wetlands from a variety of sources including Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) wetland evaluation files, Environment Canada’s Environmental Sensitivity Atlases, OMNR’s Natural Areas Database and other site specific studies. It provides information on the wetland type, site type, significance and status of wetlands, a qualitative assessment of stressors affecting coastal wetlands, and data on biodiversity with respect to significant species dependent on coastal wetlands. This report and associated database provides a framework for the development of a comprehensive and current coastal wetlands database.” The entire report is online, including text on topics related to wetlands management. Maps show each of the lakes, as well as rivers between lakes and wetlands related to the watershed.