Kris Meen has been helping us put together an interactive online version of this excellent resource – here’s his own account of what’s involved and how it’s been going:
Published in 1901 by L.J. Richards & Company of Philadelphia, the Memorial Atlas of Ireland is an unusual resource for scholars of turn-of-the-(20th)century Ireland. Presenting the island in wonderful detail, of particular value here is the completeness of boundary lines of the baronies and civil parishes. These were not typically well presented in maps of Ireland at the time.
The Atlas itself is held in the James Hardiman Library Special Collections Reading Room; as well, large-scale printouts of high quality scans are available to view in the maps collection of the Library. We wanted to see what we could do in terms of providing remote access, however, and decided to try Simile Exhibit to see if we could present it in a visually interesting and user-friendly way.
Simile Exhibit is open source software originally developed at MIT, but which is now in the hands of the open source community. It has a number of potentially useful features such as faceted search capabilities, but what we were most interested in its map visualization tool.
With the map visualization tool, we were able to arrange each plate of the Atlas, each plate representing one county, on an interactive Google Maps view of Ireland. Each plate is represented by a flag located over the appropriate county town. The researcher can click on a flag to reveal a thumbnail of the plate, which in turn can be clicked to access a full-sized digital image of a high-resolution scan of the plate.
Here’s a screen shot of what the Memorial Atlas in Exhibit looks like, with a live link, below:
Researchers can also view the plates in county alphabetical order (the order presented in the Atlas itself); Alphabetical Order uses Simile’s thumbnail view to show a list of thumbnail images that can be clicked upon to show the full-sized scans in detail once again.
The front matter and back matter of the Atlas have been included as well, simply via html links arranged above and below the map visualization.
In the end, Exhibit has proven to be a useful tool in exhibiting this valuable resource online. Please feel free to let us know what you think of the design in the comments!