WMU Libraries unveils digital campus history map

Contact: Sara Volmering

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The University Libraries has developed a campus story map that showcases the history of its buildings and growth of Western Michigan University's campus. The project draws on the extensive WMU Archives collection and expert knowledge of archivists and librarians.

The project includes a mix of contemporary views and historical photos of existing buildings, as well as buildings that no longer exist as the institution evolved from a two-year program to a research university. The map shows the beginnings of the campus starting in 1903 and continues to present day. Additional content and photos will be added as the project continues to be developed.

"This project introduces WMU's rich history as well as the longstanding 'town and gown' relationship between the campus and Kalamazoo that dates back to 1903," said Dr. Sharon Carlson, WMU professor and librarian.

The collaborative project was initiated by staff in the Libraries' Research Services department, utilizing their expertise in developing digital projects, conducting research, and combining text, image and geospatial tools to create an interactive map that showcases WMU's legacy.

"StoryMaps are a relatively new product from a major GIS company that integrates text, photos, and media with maps to build a compelling narrative around the materials. The Campus History project was a natural fit for the application given our resources and served as a nice proof of concept," said Jason Glatz, maps specialist.

"I particularly liked creating the animation of campus growth over time, and I look forward to researching and adding some of the buildings that are currently missing from the map. It also answered many of my questions regarding who, exactly, our buildings were named after," said Glatz.

Although the technology is a new addition to the Libraries, WMU community members with interest in using the StoryMaps technology to tell a story with their materials can contact Glatz for more information.

See the original photos and learn more information about WMU’s history by visiting the archives at the Zhang Legacy Collections Center.

For more information about the WMU archives, contact Dr. Sharon Carlson, sharon.carlson@wmich.edu.

For more information about custom GIS and mapping services, contact Jason Glatz, jason.glatz@wmich.edu.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News.