I’ve told you about the Braille Playboy they digitized and the 1970’s harddisk that was scanned and placed online. Some time back i also posted on the huge donation they received from the SF Public Library. Today I get to tell you about one of my collection that they’ve uploaded. It’s an old, rare, map book. How rare? I don’t know of any map collections that have one (but I’m hoping this post will find one).
This map book was created in 1981 by the Defense Mapping Agency in St. Louis, MO. It was made for NASA, and so far as I can tell it was intended for Space Shuttle astronauts. I don’t have specific details on why it was made, but the most noticeable detail in this map book are the many airport runways which have been labeled and oriented correctly. It’s my guess that this was an early briefing guide that would have been used if the Space Shuttle had to make an emergency landing somewhere.
The original map book is a loose leaf collection of of about forty 11×17″ pages held together by 3 screw together clips. By the time I got it, it had survived 3 moves and 20 years of sitting in my grandparents’ study closet. They had it because one, my grandmother was a packrat, and 2, this is one of the last projects that my grandfather worked on before he retired.
I’ve always been planning to scan it and post it online, but it is a little outside my abilities. Luckily, I attended a conference at the Internet Archive back in late October and they were kind enough to scan it for me and post in their collection. I kept the original, of course, but they would have been willing to archive that as well in their physical archive.
And this, folks, is why digital content is so important. This map book is an example of why obscurity is a greater danger than piracy. The only reason I can share it with you is that we had the good fortune to have one copy survive, forgotten, in someone’s closet. Whenever you hear about the evils of Google scanning all those books, think of this map book before you condemn Google. Ponder the countless books which weren’t as lucky as this one, before you reply.
P.S. If anyone knows where other copies can be found, let me know. Or if you know more background details, please share. I’d like to learn more about this book.