I agree that the condition of maps in bound volumes of the BPP series
is poor and that the Chawick-Healey fiche are usually unreadable, but
I wonder whether it might be possible to compromise by leaving a high
quality scan in a separately bound volume with inserted directions
within the text portion to the appropriate map or chart?
At 9:39 PM +0000 1/10/07, Humphrey Southall wrote:
>Replying to Andrew Cook, I hope it was clear I am very aware of the
>negative aspects of what I am proposing to do, but:
>(a) I don't think I should say who wrote this, but it wasn't me:
>>About 18 months ago [our] Library Committee agreed to dispose
>>of our set of British Parliamentary Papers. The decision reflected the
>>critical shortage of space to expand the remaining collections, and the
>>existence of other printed sets in the [nearby] library, which has a
>>chronological set and also one bound thematically. The chronological set
>>was significantly better than [ours], even before we took the
>>opportunity to use [our] set to fill some gaps in it before selling
>>the remaining volumes.
>(b) Having made extensive use of several different sets of British
>Parliamentary Papers in major libraries, the state of the maps bound
>into them is often lamentable, and it is not hard to imagine a
>situation where substantial parts of EVERY copy of a particular map
>have disintegrated, even though the volumes they are part of still
>look very imposing sitting on the shelves. The combination of thin
>high acid paper with regular unfolding and re-folding is very
>(c) The treatment of these maps by projects to microfilm or scan the
>BPP volumes has also been poor. In at least parts of the
>Chadwyck-Healey microfiche editions, they are treated as if they
>were the same size as the ordinary pages when they are in fact much
>bigger; as a result, they were unreadable at least on the viewer I
>had access to. Even more seriously, they had been reproduced in
>monochrome. Boundary maps almost always use a monochrome base map
>with the boundary lines superimposed in colour, so monochrome images
>are almost useless; completely so with the Boundary Commission
>maps, which generally show "before and after" boundaries, or even
>multiple alternatives, using different colours which are
>indistinguishable when reduced to monochrome.
>(d) There therefore seems to be a case for a project which focuses
>on capturing the maps as fully as possible, and also ensures the
>physical preservation of one set of the maps.
>(e) Other will know more, but my sense is that the boundary
>commission maps from 1868 onwards are cartographically unremarkable.
>However, the maps in the 1831/2 report are often based on specially
>commissioned surveys, and look to be hand coloured. There is no
>proposal to disassemble those volumes, and I am now very concerned
>we find a good home for them when we are finished; fortunately, the
>bindings are generally in a much better state than the later
>volumes, some of which are half disassembled already.
>I should maybe add that our twentieth century boundary maps come
>mainly from the map library of St. Catharine's House, discarded by
>the Office of National Statistics when they moved to Pimlico and
>quite literally rescued by us from a builder's skip. I am grateful
>to the individual librarians at ONS who alerted us (and the Royal
>Statistical Society) to what was going on, but this incident in
>particular made me very aware of the slim margin between the
>priceless -- which no library would lend us for digitising -- and
>the worthless. The really alarming part is that a few of those ONS
>maps include additional hand-drawn lines showing boundaries which
>may not be recorded elsewhere. The new funding I cannot talk about
>yet may not be doing all that much for the physical preservation of
>boundary maps, but it will ensure the preservation of the
>information on them.
>At 17:54 10/01/2007, you wrote:
>>Three points about British Parliamentary Papers:
>>1. The more people butcher sets of BPP, 'given that there are several
>>other copies ... in more easily accessible locations', the fewer sets
>>are left to consult. Repeatedly destroying just one more because there
>>were plenty left was what killed off the dodo in Mauritius, and
>>deforested Easter Island. Will the person butchering the last set,
>>please turn out the light in the archives of parliamentary democracy.
>>2. The sets 'in more easily accessible locations' are subjected to
>>heavier use, and suffer the most damage and casual depredation,
>>particularly damage to and loss of folding maps. Not even the most
>>important libraries, and the libraries of last resort, can keep pace
>>with this heavy use, nor make good the gaps which result.
>>3. It is not necessarily the case that the maps in all copies of a PP
>>are from the same printing or issue. They can also differ in content.
>>This is one of the bibliographical questions about BPP which await
>>fuller investigation, after Susan Gole alerted us to the phenomenon a
>>few years ago in her work on maps of the Mediterranean in BPP.
>>Andrew S Cook MA PhD FRHistS FRSA
>>Map Archivist, India Office Records
>>The British Library
>>96 Euston Road
>>London NW1 2DB
>>+44 20 7412 7828
>>From: A forum for issues related to map & spatial data librarianship
>>[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Humphrey Southall
>>Sent: 10 January 2007 17:18
>>To: [log in to unmask]
>>Subject: Separating and mounting maps from 19th century reports
>>I am not allowed to say anything about the funding for this, but this is
>>about something we need to do in the near future. I also apologise to
>>anyone offended by the proposed act of vandalism!
>>The reports of the Parliamentary Boundary Commissions form part of the
>>vast body of British Parliamentary Papers, i.e. big fat volumes, mostly
>>quarto in size. However, unlike most BPP volumes, they of course
>>include a large number of maps bound in. With the exception of the very
>>first Boundary Commission, for 1831-2, the maps are usually much larger
>>than the ordinary pages, so they are inserted folded. Over the years,
>>there were fewer and fewer ordinary pages, so by the mid-20th century
>>the report consisted literally of a box containing a set of folded maps.
>>However, this is about the 1868,
>>1884 and 1917 reports.
>>We need to scan a set of these maps both as the first stage of a project
>>to construct vector boundaries and to create scans as a resource in
>>their own right. We have had a set of the reports on long-term and
>>informal loan, and we have just been told by the actual owners they do
>>not want them back: they are disposing of the rest of their collection
>>of BPP reports, and are donating to us the ones they have loaned.
>>Here comes the vandalism bit: given that there are several other copies
>>of the reports in more easily accessible locations, and given that the
>>bindings for our copies are in very poor condition, I am proposing to
>>have the books taken apart with the aim of creating a really good set of
>>the maps, both for scanning and for long-term preservation. The maps
>>are mostly printed on thin and fairly brittle paper (i.e. high acid), so
>>so long as they are stored as part of the volumes and have to be
>>un-folded and re-folded each time they are used, they will be subject to
>>continuing damage. My guess is that they need to be permanently mounted
>>on some kind of backing sheet.
>>Has anyone experience of a project like this? Not having to scan the
>>maps in situ within the books will cut the cost of scanning, giving us a
>>budget to pay for restoring the maps (while, sadly, butchering the
>>books). Can anyone suggest possible contractors?
>Reader in Geography/Director,
>Great Britain Historical GIS Project
>Department of Geography, University of Portsmouth
>Buckingham Building, Lion Terrace, Portsmouth PO1 3HE
>GIS Project Office: (023) 9284 2500
>Home office: (020) 8853 0396
>Mobile: 0796 808 5454
>About Britain: http://www.VisionOfBritain.org.uk
>About us: http://www.gbhgis.org