Magazine article Information Today

Cartography for the Library: StackMap

Magazine article Information Today

Cartography for the Library: StackMap

Article excerpt

Undergrads unfamiliar with the Dewey Decimal System no longer need to worry. Navigating the library for a specific book is now as easy as using Google Maps. San Francisco-based company StackMap offers academic, public, and special libraries a tool to get more depth and usability from their catalogs by showing searchers the precise location of the physical item they're looking for.

Like many California startups, StackMap's origins reach back to Stanford University. "Back in 2008, our whole original founding team was actually all undergraduate students there, and we felt that it was incredibly difficult to find books, physical items, at [Cecil H.] Green Library," says Lex Cooke, CEO of StackMap. "We just felt that it was a pain point that could really easily be solved by technology. In some ways we were right, and in other ways it was harder than we realized, because we didn't know all that much about libraries and library software."

Cooke says the team's initial naivete about the library space turned out to work in its favor, allowing it to push forward with the project until it was able to integrate its program with Stanford's library system. After graduation, the team realized that it could generalize the system it had developed at Stanford and deploy it in other types of libraries.

StackMap works with the existing technology that libraries already employ. StackMap's software applies directly to a library's catalog discovery layer, allowing for the addition of a simple button (most often labeled "Map It! …

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