I just finished reading the funny and engaging book, Maphead, written by Ken Jennings, who you may remember from his record-busting 75-game winning streak on Jeopardy a few years ago. For a geography geek like me, reading Maphead was an affirmation that someone else--that many someone elses!--share my fascination with maps of all kinds, from the ubiquitous "thanks for subscribing" National Geographic world map to satellite images showing the Earth at night. The book offered a fascinating peek inside many map-centric worlds and subcultures, including geocaching, Google Earth, and the National Geography Bee, and offered a thoughtful examination of why so many of us lose ourselves in looking at the foreign borders, unfamiliar rivers, and faraway oceans.
For fellow map-lovers as well as the cartographically curious, the Parkway Central Library has a world-class Map Collection featuring more than 130,000 current and historic maps, as well as fascinating arial photographs of the Delaware Valley. (Read more about our Map Collection in the Fall 2011 edition of Hidden Gems.) You can also explore our digital map collection and view Philadelphia's geographic evolution from 1843 to the present! I also love exploring interesting map blogs and websites, including Big Think's "Strange Maps" (featuring my current favorite literary map), the Big Map Blog, and Worldmapper. I can also easily get sucked into the vortex of Public Profiler's World Names interactive map: Enter your last name, and find out where in the world others who share your surname live.
Maps are a great way to explore and imagine the world without having to leave the comfort of your favorite armchair. Grab an atlas or open up your web browser, and get exploring!