By Laurel Coo, Cataloguing Technician, Graham Library
Flipped through an atlas lately? Most of us haven’t because we’re hooked on Google Maps and GPS. Those technologies can’t replace spreading out an expanded road map that lets you plan an indirect route or imagine an adventurous possibility. If you’ve ever been intrigued by a treasure map, if you learn facts better visually, if you’re intrigued by travel, or if you just like handling big beautiful books, Graham library’s large and varied collection will convince you to re-open the world of atlases.
Looking into History
Historical atlases are highly detailed and thoroughly absorbing. They drop the user into another place and time. They show us regional changes over time, the fascinating fluctuation of political boundaries, achievements/disasters, cultural influence, ethnic migration, etc. The reader draws comparisons to the present day and imagines the continuum of events and conditions rolling out. A few titles: Atlas of the Middle East, of World Wars, the Classic World, Biblical Lands, Anglo-Saxon England, the Black Death, Church History, Human Migration, Women’s Occupations, and Globalization.
With Google Maps and GPS, why bother?
Subject coverage is surprisingly diverse, and it’s not all roads and geographical features. If a topic’s details can be displayed in pictorial form, it can be made into an atlas. These books are packed with graphics that make sense out of aspects of a subject, showing their relationship to each other. At a glance, readers can view charts of extrapolated data, compare values, see trends. They summarize intensive research that presents the bigger picture. Some interesting topics covered by Graham’s atlas holdings are: immunology, anatomy, the solar system, botanicals, environmental change, and lunar landscapes.
Find Atlases at Graham
There are atlases in all shapes and sizes at Graham; library staff are happy to help you locate a subject you’re interested in. Those shelved in the regular and Oversized stacks can be checked out; however, many of extra-large size or specialized topics are shelved in Reference and stay in the library. You’re invited to use the sturdy atlas stand opposite the main floor elevator. You may not be a map nerd, but open an atlas; it’ll spark your curiosity from page one.