World Digital Library: Designing a Multi-lingual Geographic Search Interface

Presentation | Presented

  • Alex Quinn, U.S. Library of Congress

Last year, the U.S. Library of Congress and UNESCO embarked on an ambitious new digital library project. Central to the new site will be a geographic search interface that lets users see the distribution of library media across the world. How do you represent a large set of library items on a map while allowing easy access to any one of them directly from the map - and all in any language?

Using PostGIS and MapServer, we were able to overcome hurdles that would have been more difficult using available commercial alternatives.

1) Flexibility - Tools provided with MapServer allowed us to programmatically generate maps in any format from input data in any format.
2) Freedom of distribution – Open source licensing allows us to collaborate with other libraries around the world for development and content hosting.
3) Multi-lingual support - Seamless Unicode support allowed us to easily localize map labels.
4) Simplicity - Getting off the ground quickly enabled us to meet a short deadline for delivering the first version.

This case study will cover the specific design constraints and our solution using open source GIS software. For the GIS practitioner, we'll provide design and implementation ideas that may open the door to providing new kinds of services to new kinds of customers. For the open source developer, this talk will highlight the benefits of existing open source GIS software, while highlighting opportunities for expanding adoption.