Friday, July 16, 2010

Delaware County Aerial Plat Maps Digital Collection Successfully Completed as LSTA Digitization Grant Project

Students, faculty, and researchers now have access to a collection of 858 aerial plat maps of Muncie and Delaware County, Indiana, available globally through Ball State’s Digital Media Repository (DMR),, a project of the University Libraries.

The development of the collection was made possible by a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) digitization grant for $26,806 awarded to the University Libraries for 2009-10. The grant project was a collaborative effort of the University Libraries and the Delaware County Auditor’s Office, who supplied the maps for digitization.

Created in the 1970’s by the Sidwell Company, each plat map consists of an aerial photograph, which was last updated in 1992, overlaid by a Mylar plat line map, originally drawn in 1976. The aerial plat maps were used by the Delaware County Auditor’s Office to keep track of splits and combines of properties. They were kept in 15 large bound books in the public access area of the Auditor’s Office. The plat maps were periodically updated using red pencil by the Auditor’s staff to mark the division and consolidation of plats, thus maintaining current records on the residential and commercial property.

These valuable historical documents were heavily used in the Auditor’s Office, and many were deteriorating from excessive use. Digitizing them has allowed for new and increased use and 24/7 access. The digital maps can be used to research individual properties and the changing landscape of the community, including land development, land use, urban sprawl, zoning changes, community growth, and illustration of the breakup of family farms.

Researchers accessing the digital collection are able to search for specific maps using a variety of keywords, including street names, incorporated areas or towns, township name, subdivision or addition name, Public Land Survey System numbers (section, township and range), or the plat map number assigned by the Sidwell Company. Plat key maps are also included in the collection to find specific parcels of land at the township level.

This was the fifth consecutive LSTA digitization grant received by the University Libraries. LSTA digitization grants have resulted in significant Indiana-related digital collections being added to the University Libraries’ DMR and to the Indiana State Library’s Indiana Memory online resource.

LSTA grants are funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act and administered by the Indiana State Library. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.