Humanitarian Mapping as Library Outreach: A Case for Community-Oriented Mapathons

Maps and geospatial data are critical in disaster response situations. Accurate and updated maps direct first responders to areas of most need, reroute supply lines according to the post-disaster landscape, and help identify remote communities. Unfortunately, accurate and detailed geospatial data is not readily available for many parts of the world. Crowdsourced mapping programs such as Humanitarian OpenStreetMap (HOT) and Tomnod rely on volunteers to create this essential data, with a focus on the world's most vulnerable places. Groups of volunteers contribute to HOT and Tomnod in events called mapathons. This case study at Indiana University Bloomington's Herman B Wells Library asserts that the library is a natural home for humanitarian mapathons, as participants actively engage with spatial and data literacy concepts as they become spatial data creators. Through library mapathons, participants gain spatial and data literacy skills, engage with a global community, connect with other parts of the world, and are exposed to library resources. Hosting a mapathon requires very few specialized skills or knowledge, and has broad appeal. While Indiana University, Bloomington serves about 40,000 students, this case study provides tips and best practices for hosting humanitarian mapathons at libraries of any size.

Publication Date:
Apr 25 2018
Date Submitted:
Jul 10 2019
Journal of Web Librarianship, 12

 Record created 2019-07-10, last modified 2019-07-10

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