The LIBER Groupe des Carthothécaires Map Library Usage Survey, Summer 2003: a Mandate for Change?

Nick Millea


At the 2002 Helsinki meeting, the LIBER Groupe des Cartothécaires Working Group for Education suggested a survey of map usage in our libraries. Using Jan Smits’ 1987-88 survey as our reference point, we decided to re-examine map usage in the early 21st century, attempting to identify shifting requirements created by the rapidly evolving technological advances being made in cartography, and, by our map libraries hosting these changes. Could this new survey act as a catalyst for change? The Chairman of the Working Group for Education acquired Jan’s questionnaire, and along with Group representatives Jürg Bühler and Mira Miletic Drder, added a number of new categories whilst removing some of the previously outdated fields. What evolved was distributed to Groupe des Cartothécaires’ National Correspondents and made available on the Working Group for Education’s website in fifteen different languages. It was therefore possible to ask all respondents the same questions and allow comparison across the continent. The timing of the survey (1st June to 1st September 2003) was chosen in order to meet the publication deadline for an article scheduled for imminent publication in Geoscapes. Unfortunately a number of libraries commented that the summer was their “quiet” period. By way of comparison, Jan reported that 96 institutions returned a total of 2,847 questionnaires in preparation for his 1991 paper, way in excess of the 2003 response rate. In defence of last year’s questionnaire, at three months, the survey period was much shorter than that available to our predecessors.

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