The unit responsible for supporting classroom technology needs across campus has a new name and a new manager.
CAVS (Classroom Audio Visual Services) – a unit of McMaster University Library – has been renamed Campus Classroom Technologies (CCT).
Chris McAllister, the new Library Computing & Classroom Technology Manager, will now be overseeing CCT.
CCT, part of the Library & Learning Technologies Division of the Library, is responsible for the design, installation, ongoing support and end-user training for audio-visual equipment in all Registrar-controlled classrooms (and other designated spaces) across the McMaster campus.
CCT collaborates with other campus units on the creation of new classrooms and the renovation of existing classrooms to meet new pedagogical needs.
McAllister says he and his team remain committed to providing excellent customer service and will continue to seek opportunities to improve the classroom experience for faculty and students campus-wide.
Filed under Library News: e-Resources
In support of Open Education Week, Library staff have created a display - located in the lobby of Mills Library - that features a 'Mini Open Textbook Library,' made up of a number of open textbooks recently acquired by the Library, courtesy of eCampusOntario.
From March 5 – 9, McMaster University Library is celebrating Open Education Week, a global event to raise awareness about how Open Education Resources (OER) can help make education more affordable and accessible to learners world-wide.
OER include teaching, learning and research resources, such as textbooks, assignments, modules, and syllabi, that are openly available for public use and can be used, shared, or repurposed by anyone, anywhere – free of cost, technical, or legal barriers.
In support of Open Education Week, Library staff have created a display – located in the lobby of Mills Library – that features a ‘Mini Open Textbook Library,’ made up of a number of high quality open textbooks recently acquired by the Library, courtesy of eCampusOntario.*
The textbooks, from eCampusOntario’s extensive Open Textbook Library, cover topics from a range of disciplines including Canadian history, environmental biology, marketing and web literacy, among others. They are available in both hard copy and digital formats, and can be borrowed or accessed by students and faculty through the Library’s catalogue.
Library users can engage with the display by completing postcards that ask why open educational resources matter to them. They are encouraged to tweet their responses to #OERweek or #OpenEducationWeek.
In the coming weeks, McMaster will be receiving another collection of printed open textbooks which will be added to the catalogue.
According to eCampusOntario, the cost of textbooks has risen 88% over the past decade and 65% of students are choosing not to buy textbooks as a result. In January, the McMaster Student Union – along with student bodies in seven other universities – took part in the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance’s (OUSA) #TextbookBroke campaign aimed at advocating for more affordable textbooks.
There are a number of advantages – for both students and faculty – to using OER. These types of resources are generally low in cost, if not free, and they can be accessed online and/or easily downloaded for later use, making it possible for all students to access the materials before classes begin. They are also flexible and allow faculty to use, modify, or adapt existing open textbooks to suit the needs of their course. Software is available to help faculty create or adapt open textbooks, or to co-create a textbook with their students.
As part of Open education Week, a number of online events are taking place including:
March 7 @ 2:00 p.m.
Webinar: Collaborating Across Institutions to Advance Open Education, hosted by SPARC
March 9 @ 9:00 a.m.
Webinar: eCampusOntario - Ontario Update
*eCampusOntario is a not-for-profit leader in teaching and learning through technology and is funded through the Government of Ontario.
In support of national Freedom to Read Week, Library staff have a created a display - located in the lobby of Mills Library - made up of banned or challenged books, many of which can be checked out by students, staff and faculty.
What do To kill a Mockingbird, the Satanic Verses, Ulysses and even Harry Potter have in common? They’re all classicson their own right, and they’ve all been banned or challenged at one time or another.
From February 25 – March 3, McMaster University Library is joining public libraries, bookstores and schools across Canada in celebrating Freedom to Read Week, a nation-wide commemoration of the thousands of books that have been banned, challenged, or censored for any number of reasons, including sexuality, coarse language, racism, or religious objections.
Freedom to Read Week is an is an opportunity for Canadians to think about, and reaffirm, their commitment to freedom of expression and intellectual freedom.
In support of Freedom to Read Week, Library staff have a created a display – located in the lobby of Mills Library – made up of banned or challenged books, all of which can be checked out by students, staff and faculty.
Which banned or challenged Canadian book should you read? Take our quiz and find out!
A vast selection of books have been challenged, banned, or censored over the years – read through a list of 100 controversial books on the Freedom to Read Challenged Works database. Many of these books can also be found in libraries on campus.
Watch videos featuring some of the world’s most famous thinkers and scientists, the price they paid for talking about, or publishing their ground-breaking, but controversial ideas, and what that might look like today if they were on Twitter or Facebook:
Canadian Jewish Experience: A Tribute to Canada 150 - on display in the foyer of Mills Library until February 16 - highlights the important role Jewish Canadians have played in many facets of Canadian life.
From iconic musician and poet, Leonard Cohen to Bora Laskin, the first Jewish Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada – a new travelling exhibit is shining a light on the achievements and contributions of Jewish Canadians over the past 150 years.
Canadian Jewish Experience: A Tribute to Canada 150 – now on display in the foyer of Mills Library – highlights the important role Jewish Canadians have played in many facets of Canadian life.
The exhibit recounts the history of Jewish migration to Canada in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and focuses on the experiences and accomplishments of Jewish Canadians in a range of areas including arts and culture, sports, public service, justice and human rights, business and entrepreneurship, and military service.
McMaster is the latest stop for the exhibit, which is making its way across the country, and has been on display at a number of universities and in public spaces throughout Canada including the Canadian War Museum, Parliament Hill, the Ontario and Manitoba Legislatures, as well as at municipal buildings and public libraries. The exhibit is also on display in Canadian embassies, or consulates in Israel, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago.
The Canadian Jewish Experience is a volunteer initiative. The exhibit curator is Sandra Weizman, with contributions from Victor Rabinovich, president emeritus of the War Museum and the Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization).
For additional information about the history and contributions of Jewish Canadians to Canada, visit the Canadian Jewish Experience online exhibit.
Canadian Jewish Experience: A Tribute to Canada 150 will be on display in Mills Library until February 16.
Filed under Library News: Archives & Research Collections
This year, McMaster University Library is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the acquisition of the archives of renowned peace activist, philosopher and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell, widely considered one of the great intellectuals of the 20th century.
In 1968, McMaster announced that it had acquired the archives of renowned philosopher, peace activist and Nobel laureate, Bertrand Russell.
Russell was considered one of the greatest thinkers and best-known public intellectuals of the 20th century – a global household name. A number of universities were keenly interested in purchasing his papers.
Knowing that time was of the essence, William Ready, McMaster’s chief librarian, moved swiftly to secure the funds needed, succeeding, in part, thanks to a gift from McMaster alumnus and financier, Cyrus Eaton.
When McMaster’s acquisition of the collection was announced, it sent ripples throughout the academic world and made international headlines.
“When the Russell papers arrived at McMaster, there was a tremendous amount of media interest,” recalls Ken Blackwell, adjunct professor and honourary Russell archivist, who has worked with the collection since 1966.
“I was 25 at the time and I was interviewed all over the place – my picture appeared in the New York Times along with a picture of the Russell archives,” says Blackwell. “So people got to know where McMaster was through the archives – it helped put McMaster on the map.”
This year, McMaster University Library is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the acquisition of the Bertrand Russell Archives, which remains the University’s largest research collection, and continues to be used by scholars from around the world.
“The collection is remarkable both because of Russell’s importance and because it’s so complete,” says Nicholas Griffin, Canada Research Chair in Philosophy and Director of McMaster’s Bertrand Russell Research Centre. “Russell was one of the major intellectuals of the last century – as important as Freud or Einstein, I would claim. Also, we have either the original or a copy of just about every document connected to Russell that’s publicly available. These two factors together make it a really special collection.”
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), the grandson of British Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, was a brilliant mathematician and logician. He devoted much of his early career to philosophy, becoming the most important founder of analytic philosophy, the dominant philosophical tradition in the English-speaking world in the 20th century.
But it was his advocacy for peace and social reform that catapulted him to global fame. It began with his opposition to the First World War, during which he was imprisoned for his activism. In 1950, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his prolific writings championing human rights and freedom of thought.
He was also an central figure in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. “Russell saw the Cold War and the threat of nuclear weapons as a seismic change,” explains Myron Groover, archivist and rare books librarian in the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, where the Bertrand Russell Archives are housed.
“He was intimately involved in the nuclear non-proliferation movement and he also became personally involved,” says Groover. “At the height of the Cuban missile crisis, Russell was sending telegrams to President Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, pleading with them to back down – they did, perhaps at his urging. That’s how influential he was by that time.”
Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Russell corresponded with dozens of heads of state – including those from Soviet bloc countries and communist China – and with celebrities like John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and Muhammad Ali. He even exchanged letters with Alan “Tommy” Lascelles, private secretary to Queen Elizabeth II.
These letters can be found in the Russell archives, along with hundreds of manuscripts, and thousands more letters, both published and unpublished. The collection also includes Russell’s personal library of more than 3000 books, hundreds of photographs, his writing desk, audio tapes, films and his Nobel medal.
The collection, by far the largest on Russell in the world, has inspired a wealth of scholarly activity in a number of areas including peace and religious studies, philosophy, history, political science, literature and even mathematics.
“This collection is truly remarkable both for its size and for the tremendous influence it has had on scholarship since it arrived at McMaster 50 years ago,” says Vivian Lewis, McMaster University Librarian. “Russell’s political and philosophical writings provide a unique window into the 20th century through the eyes of one of its greatest intellectuals and continue to offer scholars insight on many themes – from nuclear disarmament to the struggle for human rights – which remain deeply relevant to this day.”
Throughout 2018, the Library will be marking the 50th anniversary of the acquisition of the archives in a number of ways including an exhibit of items from the Russell collection at the McMaster Museum of Art, and through a special edition of the Hamilton Arts and Letters magazine, edited by McMaster archivist Rick Stapleton.
The Library will also celebrate the opening of the new home of the Bertrand Russell Archives and Bertrand Russell Research Centre. The newly renovated space, located at 88 Forsythe Ave. N., is scheduled to open this spring.
McMaster graduate student, Hector Orozco explains why he's encouraging researchers to embrace Open Access, a global movement to make scholarly publications and data publicly available.
Picture this: you’re finishing up your first first-author paper. You find a relevant paper on Google Scholar and, judging from the title, it’ll help you wrap up the discussion section. You click on it… and you hit a paywall.
If you think this was an isolated event, think again. Grad students and researchers all around the world hit paywalls every day.
Publicly funded research should be publicly available. Government institutions, such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), distribute tax-payers’ money to the scientific community. With it, principal investigators further our knowledge through basic and applied research. We then publish our findings in a scientific journal that nicely tucks our hard work behind a paywall. The Open Access movement aims to get around this by promoting free and immediate online access to scientific & scholarly articles with full reuse rights.
My name is Hector Orozco. I’m in the last year of my master’s degree in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavior at Mac. I was recently awarded the McMaster University Library Travel Scholarship to attend OpenCon—the international conference that brings together the world’s leaders in Open Access. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), OpenCon’s organizer, aims to empower the next generation of Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education advocates.
OpenCon focused on several aspects of Open Access and included a “Do-A-Thon”, a day dedicated to advocacy and taking concrete steps toward Open Access.
It was an eye-opening experience for me and helped me realize how lucky we are to be in an institution that has the means to pay for the journal subscriptions we need in order to keep doing such innovative research. I also hadn’t realized how important small, grassroots actions are – making your work openly available can be as easy as self-archiving one of the versions of your manuscript in your institution’s repository.
You may be asking, “Why should I care about this?”
Making your work openly available has clear benefits for both society and for you as a researcher. Look at the recent opening of all data in the Montreal Neurological Institute. This initiative aims to digitally share data and findings in real time so we can further science and our understanding of neurological diseases.
Open Access will translate into better visibility, greater public engagement, and higher impact of scholarship, as well as less duplication. It’s also being increasingly embraced by funding agencies around the world including Canada’s Tri-Agencies, who recently introduced a requirement that all Tri-Agency funded research be made public within 12 months of publication.
As researchers, there are multiple ways you can make your work open. One of them is self-archiving in your institution's repository (without the need to publish in Open Access journals). McMaster’s repository is MacSphere; and, if you want to archive your work there, McMaster Library staff will be happy to help. The Library has also developed a number of resources to help researchers navigate the world of Open Access.
McMaster’s implementation of openness is at an early stage, but there are grassroots initiatives already underway. For example: Haley Kragness, Michael Galang and I – all McMaster OpenCon alumni – were awarded a Student Proposal for Intellectual Community & Engaged Scholarship (SPICES) grant this year to fund our OpenMac project. Our first step is to distribute a survey to understand what people think about the Open Access movement so we can develop events that are tailored specifically to Mac. We will then put together workshops and a “self-archive-a-thon” to encourage faculty and grad students to deposit a copy of their work in MacSphere.
While Open Access has clear benefits, it is not a panacea. Though the movement gives us the freedom to explore different publishing schemes, some of these are not yet optimal. For instance, several journals charge scientists “Article Processing Charges”. Some hybrid models also practice “double dipping”, where traditionally “closed” scientific magazines will make an article open (for a very steep price) and still have universities pay yearly subscriptions to access the whole journal in which the (open) article is published. The best way to publish (or even self-archive) is to always consult with your supervisor and with the Library.
I was first introduced to Open Access in 2015 while I was doing research at McGill University. From the very beginning, it made sense to me: publicly funded research should be publicly available.
The open movement presents a big opportunity for academics to engage with the general public and democratize their knowledge. As Eunice Mercado-Lara, the Science and Technology Policy Deputy Director in Mexico’s CONACYT, states, “open science is a new and different paradigm of doing science: science shouldn’t be in silos, science should be discussed by anyone anywhere; of course, you need experts guiding the discussion, but at the end of the day every single actor [person] should be involved.”
*OpenCon 2017 conference materials can be found, freely available, online.
McMaster University Library has countless resources to help students at any time of year, but during the exam period when stress levels soar and students are studying feverishly, Mills, Innis and Thode Libraries have lots of services that can help make this hectic time a bit easier:
1. Trouble focusing? There’s an app for that!
Relax, learn to manage your stress, and improve your ability to focus with Muse brain-sensing headbands. Using seven sensors to detect and measure brain activity and Bluetooth to send this information to the free Muse app, the headbands provide a one-of-a-kind interactive meditating experience. Muse provides feedback on your meditation by translating your brain signals into the sights and sounds of wind, which are stormy when the mind is active and settled when the mind is calm. The app reports on your session and progress, adjusts your goals, and challenges you to remain calm for increasing lengths of time. Visit the Library Services Desk in Mills, Thode or Innis Libraries to borrow the headbands for up to a week.
2. How do you like them apples?
Need a healthy snack to keep you going? The Library is offering free apples to students. Apples can be found in the Learning Commons help desk and at Thode and Innis Libraries – help yourself and enjoy!
3. Unwind in the Thode Makerspace
Come to the Thode Makerspace to destress before your exams! Making some cool crafts is a great way to destress and take your mind off exams. 3D print or Laser cut some ornaments, make a pouch for your phone, or create your first circuit! This will be going on until the last day of exams so feel free to drop in anytime we are open. The Makerspace is located in the basement of Thode Library.
4. Just add a cute dog
Liam the Library dog is a certified therapy dog who loves attention from students! Visit with Liam on Wednesday December 13. Liam will be in Innis Library at 11:00 a.m., Mills Library at 1:00 p.m., and Thode Library at 3:00 p.m.
5. Thode Library Services and Stress Busters
Thode Library is offering a range of activities and resources to help make exams a bit less stressful:
- Thode Meditation Station: get away from it all in Thode Library’s meditation room. Grab some earplugs and tune out, or borrow a Muse headband and calm your mind with a little help from technology. (1/2hr – 1hr room booking, 1 person at a time)
- An ongoing collective puzzle challenge! Take a break and help solve a puzzle together
- Board games and puzzles to borrow
- Forgot your calculator? Borrow one from the services desk.
6. Forgot your headphones?
You’re all set up for an intense study session at the library, and realize that you forgot your headphones! You can still enjoy your favourite study playlist by borrowing headphones for four hours at a time from the Service Desk in Mills, Innis or Thode Libraries with your library card.
7. Spark your curiosity and creativity at Lyons New Media Centre
Get creative in the Lyons New Media Centre (LNMC). Colouring sheets and pencil crayons, knitting, and origami are available, as well as VR glasses, and robots for students to sign out and play with. Some items can only be used within LNMC, some can be signed out for up to 24 hours. Click here for more information.
8. Innis Library De-Stress Zone
Take a break in the Innis Library De-Stress Zone, which includes a range of activities to help you decompress including colouring materials, puzzles, a word search, and crosswords. Students who complete the Innis Library related word search, can submit it to our Service Desk for the chance to win a prize pack that includes Library swag, the Stats Canada 150 humour book, treats, and head massager.
9. Unwind at Mills Library
Mills Library will have board games and puzzles available for students – just visit the main floor service desk to sign them out.
10. Food or drink, anyone?
Vending machines with snacks and beverages are now available and being stocked in Mills, Innis and Thode libraries.
11. Past Exams
The Library has a range of past exams from Humanities, Social Sciences, Business, Commerce Engineering and Science courses that can help you be more prepared. Find exams here.
Quiet study can be found in the following spaces:
- The Connections Centre in Mills [1st floor]
- 6th floor of Mills Library [Silent Study floor]
- Area on the west side of the 4thth floor of Mills Library [down the ramp]
- All areas on 3rd and 4th floors of Mills Library
- Silent late night study in Innis Library, Mon-Thurs, 11:00 p.m. – 2:45 a.m.
- Lower level of Thode Library, as well as a small silent study room also in the lower level
LIBRARY HOURS FOR THE EXAM PERIOD ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Thode library is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the end of the exam period.
Innis Library is open Monday to Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 11p.m., Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sunday: 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Mills Library is open Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
The Mills Learning Commons is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the end of the exam period.
The Libraries’ 41st annual Toy & Food Drive will be held Nov. 21—Dec. 12, 2017. All items collected through this drive will go to local Hamilton charities.
New unwrapped toys for girls and boys up to the age of 16, non-perishable food items, gift certificates/cards for teens, and items for family pets are needed. Your continued support is very much appreciated!
Need gift ideas? Here are some suggestions …
- building blocks
- colouring books, crayons and/or markers
- craft kits
- dolls or action characters/figures and accessories
- electronics (MP3 players, etc.).
- gift certificates/cards (movie passes, music stores, shopping malls)
- makeup, hair essentials and accessories
- model kits
- sports items, equipment, accessories
Why not start a toy-drive in your office, residence or department? Donations can be dropped off at a collection box at your nearest campus library (Mills, Innis, Thode or the Health Sciences Library).
Filed under Library News: Archives & Research Collections
The archives of Stuart McLean – CBC journalist, best-selling author and host of the perennially popular radio program the Vinyl Cafe – have found a new home at McMaster.
He is remembered as one of this country’s most beloved storytellers.
Throughout Stuart McLean’s 40-year career as a CBC journalist, best-selling author and host of the perennially popular radio program the Vinyl Cafe, his stories – along with his signature warmth and sense of humour – resonated with audiences across the nation and continue to hold an enduring place in the hearts of many Canadians.
Now McLean’s extensive personal and literary archive, which offers insight into his life and work and provides a unique behind-the-scenes look at the Vinyl Cafe, has found a new home at McMaster.
From manuscripts of his iconic and award-winning stories and books, to correspondence, photographs, fan mail, sound recordings, and even set pieces from his live Vinyl Cafe performances, the archive – which McLean donated to McMaster University Library before his death earlier this year – includes a wealth of material that provides scholars and the public with the opportunity to explore both aspects of his life and his remarkable body of work.
We are delighted that McMaster University will be the home to Stuart’s archives,” write McLean’s sons Christopher Trowbridge, Robert McLean and Andrew McLean. “This is something that Stuart started working on a few years ago. He loved combing through old letters, manuscripts, photos and scraps of paper. He spent months meticulously collecting and boxing up work and correspondence from the past five decades.”
“We know how happy it made Stuart to know that his archive would find a home a McMaster,” they add. “We hope others will take as much pleasure in it as he did.”
The archive, part of the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, is made up of 100 boxes, or 16 metres, of material. It includes a diverse range of items including boxes filled with notepads used by McLean to scribble down story ideas, as well as personal correspondence with notable figures such as fellow authors Margaret Atwood, Farley Mowat and Timothy Findley, among many others.
It also features hundreds of original manuscripts, such as the much-loved story “Dave Cooks the Turkey,” complete with hand-written notes added by McLean and his editors which provide valuable insight into the creative writing process.
Over his prolific and varied career, which included teaching in Ryerson University’s School of Journalism, McLean worked on and contributed to some of the biggest shows in radio. He was an award-winning documentary producer on CBC’s Sunday Morning and was a regular columnist and guest host on CBC’s Morningside with Peter Gzowski which inspired his national bestseller, The Morningside World of Stuart McLean.
But he was best known for the Vinyl Cafe, a weekly radio show that first aired in 1994 and which quickly became a Canadian institution. It featured a mix of stories, essays and musical performances and later evolved into a touring show, allowing McLean to share both his love of performance and passion for storytelling with audiences across Canada.
“Stuart loved sharing his work with the world. He often talked about how lucky he was to be there for the moment of ‘giving and receiving’ the moment where he was able to share his work with an audience,” says McLean’s long-time producer, Jess Milton.
“That’s why I wasn’t surprised when he told me he wanted his archive to be public,” she continues. “He wanted to share his work. He always invited others to join in. I’m delighted that, even though Stuart is gone, we will be able to continue to be part of his work and his process, and that future generations will be able to explore the extraordinary contribution that Stuart’s work made to the tapestry of Canada.”
McLean’s archives join those of many other renowned Canadian authors in McMaster University Library’s collection including Farley Mowat, Pierre Berton, Margaret Laurence, and Austin Clarke.
“We are honoured that McMaster is the permanent home of Stuart’s outstanding body of work,” says McMaster University Librarian, Vivian Lewis. “We are proud to be the stewards of this rich legacy, which will be an invaluable resource to those studying, or engaged in the creative process and to those interested in understanding the significant impact Stuart’s work had on Canadian culture.”
McLean garnered many accolades throughout his career. He was an officer of the Order of Canada, and a three-time winner of the prestigious Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. He received honourary doctorates from a number of Canadian universities, including from McMaster in 2014.
Few writers or performers have left so great a mark on this country as Stuart McLean,” says McMaster President Patrick Deane. “We are delighted that he chose McMaster to house and preserve this wonderful archive and that scholars and the public alike will have the opportunity to continue to explore his life, his work, and the much-loved stories that connected him so deeply to Canadians.”
McMaster will be celebrating the gift of the Stuart McLean Archive at a special event this spring.
Filed under Library News: Maps, Data, GIS
Workers install a 17 ft. by 13 ft. large scale map of Vimy Ridge in the foyer of Mills Library. The map, which will be on display until November 21, was created by Canadian Geographic using trench maps from McMaster’s extensive WWI collection and is available on loan to schools across Canada to help teach students about the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
On April 9, 1917, after months of careful preparation, the Canadian Corps was ordered to seize Vimy Ridge.
The three-day battle that followed proved to be a decisive victory for the Canadians. It was the largest territorial advance of any Allied force up to that point in the war, and came to be considered by many a defining moment in Canada’s evolution from British dominion to independent nation, but it came at a terrible cost with more than 10,500 Canadian soldiers left dead or wounded.
Now a large-scale floor map of Vimy Ridge, created using trench maps from McMaster University Library’s extensive World War One map collection, is helping to teach new generations of high school students about this significant event in Canada’s history.
The 17 ft. by 13 ft. map – which will be on display in the foyer of Mills Library until November 21 – was created by Canadian Geographic and is available on loan to schools across Canada to help teach students about World War One and the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
“Every high school student in the country learns about Canada’s role in both World Wars – I’m so glad maps from our collection can help support their learning,” says Gord Beck, a map specialist in McMaster University Library’s Lloyd Reed Map Collection who worked with Canadian Geographic to source the maps used in the project.
Beck says the floor map is actually made up of two maps – one depicting the northern portion of the area in which the Battle of Vimy Ridge took place, the other depicting the southern portion. Both maps were drawn just months before the battle and would have provided military planners and soldiers with the most detailed and accurate information available at the time.
The Floor map, along with a suite of related learning activities, is available on loan to educators across Canada. Visit Canadian Geographic for details.
Canadian Geographic cartographer Chris Brackley digitally pieced the maps together to provide a complete picture of the battlefield.
“It gives students a real grasp of the sheer enormity and impact of the battle,” says Beck adding that the floor map allows students to see a wealth of detail including the location of machine gun posts and barbed wire, the position of enemy guns, the configuration of the trenches, the locations of underground tunnels, and the contours of the ridge itself.
Beck says the map is also a valuable tool for exploring the science of map making, which was changing rapidly during the first world war as a result of technological advances like the use of aerial photography. He says it even sheds light on the social and popular culture influences of the time.
“You can see from the map that many of the names given to the trenches are humourous – sometimes darkly humourous – and they were sometimes named after popular songs from the time, or after actresses or actors,” he says. “So, you can learn a lot more than military history from the map.”
Beck says McMaster’s collection of WWI trench maps and WWI aerial photographs are among the best in the world, adding that what makes the collection unique is that the maps have been digitized and are available online through the Library’s Digital Archive.
“When you digitize materials, you hope you’re going to increase the use of the maps and create awareness of the collections we have,” says Beck, adding that Canadian Geographic contacted him after finding the maps of Vimy Ridge online. “I’m happy that not only can the public go to our website and see the maps of Vimy, they can also look at any of the WWI maps from our collection.”
The Vimy Ridge floor map is one of a number of educational materials that were created as part of Canadian Geographic’s documentary series, Drawn to Victory, which explored the role of aerial photography and cartography in WWI.
Watch videos of Beck and McMaster’s Book and Paper Conservator, Audrie Schell – both interviewed for Drawn to Victory. Beck discusses McMaster’s collection of WWI trench maps and Schell talks about the efforts that go into preserving these materials.