[Talk-GB] National Library of Scotland - Out of copyright mapping

Andy Robinson ajrlists at gmail.com
Mon Mar 12 10:02:55 GMT 2012

Chatted for an hour with Chris Fleet, the senior map curator at NLS on
He's keen to see OSM use the historical mapping they now have online. I've
created a wiki page (which Chris has contributed to) [1] that documents
those georeferenced maps that are likely to be of most use to mappers in the
UK and Ireland. There are other maps which may be of individual interest to
mappers, especially those in Scotland, so do check out the links to NLS
given on the wiki page.

At the moment georeferenced map tiles are being served from the NLS servers.
Chris will have some discussions internally before getting back to us
regarding possible hosting of some maps on OSM servers.
Presently the 1:25,000 coverage is north of Manchester only but the rest of
England and Wales should be coming on line in the next couple of months. For
now at 1:25,000 scale our own coverage in England and Wales should be used
where it is available [2]

I've asked Chris if it's possible to increase the available zoom levels by
one for both the 7th series and 1:25k. This will help tracing smaller
objects in our editing software. At present the zoom limits are those given
in the wiki page.

The reason that NLS has been able to do the scanning work is that they
currently have an assistant funded by Wilbourn Associates of Sheffield. The
assistant's time is split between scanning maps that Wilbourn will use
commercially for environmental studies and work to get historical mapping
online for NLS. In the longer term NLS is not clear if they will have to
charge at some point for access of their own API to help pay for hosting.
Depends really how popular it is and whether they can distribute hosting.

With NLS making these maps available it is worth questioning whether OSM
should continue to pursue our own independent resource. We have full
coverage at 1-inch to 1 mile scale (NPE and 7th series) as well as around
67% full coverage at 1:25,000 First Edition. Our bottleneck has been the
cost of scanning. We now have scanning costs as list below (use of a brand
new Contex Scanner using our own labour) that make it potentially feasible
plus the offer of free access  to a scanner in Scotland. The benefit of the
former is that the facility is 30mins from where most of the map sheets are
currently stored (with me). Moving the sheets back up to Scotland is an
option but less flexible considering we have around 1500 sheets to scan
right now (and may grow). I have looked at second hand scanners but
availability is like hens teeth and they are generally very bulky or heavy
and often running on old SCSI interfaces which is less ideal. As a
comparison, a new A0 scanner to the appropriate spec will cost around

Scanning on a Contex HD 3630 (our labour)
1-200 scans  - £ 1.50 per scan
201 - 500 scans - £ 1.35 per scan
501 + - £ 0.95 per scan
Add VAT to all of the above.

I'd welcome thoughts on whether it's worth OSM scanning what we have for the
longer term benefit of OSM. At the moment this is specifically the full set
of 7th series 1-inch flat sheets (under the control of Steve Chilton) and
the large number of 1:25,000 2.5 inch to 1 mile flat sheets I have been
managing. If still worth it then whether we should seek to raise say £2000
to cover the full cost of scanning now. I'm worried if we try to do it
piecemeal it will just never happen because of the amount of labour time
involved in doing the scanning, rectifying each sheet and making the sheets
available. If we did it as a one off project with those interested getting
involved it would be much easier. Several people have offered their support
in the past (time and funds) so it is certainly possible to think of doing
it ourselves if the will is still there.

Would be great to have feedback on NLS and our own options.


[1] http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/National_Library_of_Scotland 
[2] http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Provisional/First_Edition

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