Nowadays, map users come from a diverse disciplines and use maps for different purposes, but they all are confronted with the same task: finding the maps they need. Searching systems, used by museums or archives collecting maps, rely on metadata. However, the scope and method of saving map data in metadata are not often connected with the way in which users search for maps and therefore they are often unable to find the maps necessary for their research. Moreover, the ways of describing maps in metadata are different in each institution, what hinders the interoperability and wide using of data.
In this context, the key questions are: what scope of metadata can provide a proper description of maps and how to evaluate if metadata from concerned institution fulfill these needs and give user the chance to find necessary maps.
Therefore, the aim of our research was to evaluate topographic maps metadata in the context of the possibility to evaluate their usability of specific users’ needs in the National Library of Poland (NLP. The area of interest are topographic maps because they are the most heavily used for research and other purposes.
To assess metadata for the purposes of evaluating the usability of topographic maps, a two-stage procedure was used. It covers the evaluation of topographic maps metadata, followed by their assessment in terms of whether maps found on their basis might be useful in our research.
The research was carried out on 35,092 topographic maps issued in the years 1608-2017, in scales ranging from 1:10,000 to 1:500,000 from the National Library of Poland. These maps mainly cover the current territories of Poland, Belarus, Germany, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Lithuania, and Russia.
The conducted analysis of topographic maps in the National Library of Poland revealed that the collected data are very interesting and match the users’ needs.