MAP: North Carolina Literary Map

North Carolina Literary Map

The North Carolina Literary Map is an example of a literary map produced for a single state. This type of literary map has a long history that predates the Internet. Libraries and even tourism offices have produced paper maps of this type to promote local authors and works long before modern digital maps existed.

With its colorful overview of the states’ counties, the main page for the North Carolina Literary Map is a throwback to the paper maps. By clicking on the different counties, a user suddenly finds an unexpectedly deep and thorough collection of information about authors and works that have connections to the Tar Heel state.

The county overview leads to information about authors and books set in each location, and links to authors lead to lists of the books they have written that are included in the map.

During my research into book and literary maps in the summer of 2014, I discovered many state maps. Based on my interviews, the North Carolina Literary Map is likely one of the most visited and used literary maps on the Internet. This achievement is a testament to the librarians who not only maintain the map but also promote and use it as the basis for other activities. In addition to information about books and authors, the map also includes information about where the books are taught in the state, for example, and there is even a new (limited) section about literary tours.

A map like this provides a visual interface for arranging and accessing an enormous amount of information, which is one of the strengths of literary maps, even if most of that visual richness is lost after the first click. The map also serves as an example of how to use local literary information to promote reading and learning about place.

The map had its first launch in 2008 or 2009; then after technical revisions, it had a more robust launch in 2012. The Library of Congress’s Center for the Book encouraged the development of local maps including this one; unlike many of the other maps that have fallen into disuse, the dedication of the librarians at the University of North Carolina Greensboro with the help of graduate students and the support of grants and even private donations have kept this map active and growing.

Check out the map here:

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