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held by Swiss libraries and archives can be accessed via Kartenportal.ch. This portal released yesterday has been developed in order to simplify access to both current maps and those which could not be previously accessed due to copyright restrictions. Until now such maps had to be retrieved in the various traditional library catalogues; this proved to be a time-consuming and cumbersome task.
The portal enables a simple interactive map search that will retrieve maps from dozens of Swiss map libraries. In addition, there is also a separate directory with information about the various collections involved and their conditions of use. This directory has its own interface providing intuitive access to the at times bewildering collections within the country. There is also a blog with information on current events, specific tips for collectors and general news from the world of maps – both of an historical and of a contemporary nature.
The interactive map search facility has been developed for the needs of Swiss map libraries. It currently serves as a model for similar projects in Europe and North America. The user simply needs to define the section and zoom level of the background map in order to trigger the software which then retrieves the most relevant documents. When required, the results can be refined with the help of chronological and scale filters. Detailed information for each document is available, including a direct link to the library which holds the object and providing a thumbnail image, if available. Entries for around 350,000 maps and atlases are currently available via the map search.