MapReader Launch

June 7 2023, 9:00 - June 8 2023, 5:00

Search inside maps with MapReader!

June 7


  • Talks from the Living with Machines MapReader team


  • Keynote: Chris Fleet, National Library of Scotland
  • Workshop: Learn to use MapReader – Part 1


June 8


  • Workshop: Learn to use MapReader – Part 2


  • Keynote: Nicole Coleman, Stanford Libraries
  • Talks from open source, computational humanities projects working with historical maps

Register below to join us for the public launch of the MapReader software library at The Alan Turing Institute in London. This in-person-only event is part of Living with Machines’ end of project Distributed Conference, a series of activities during the final year of Living with Machines that is designed to engage with people beyond the project.

Travel bursaries are available! Please see below for details.

What is MapReader?

MapReader allows users to identify items of visual interest on series maps, and then to define queries for discovering them across hundreds or thousands of individual sheets. The power of this approach is its flexibility for any number of historical or current spatial research questions.

Cultural heritage organisations hold an increasing number of digitised maps among their collections; and yet, while textual material can be explored ‘at scale’ using a number of digital tools and methods, there are, as yet, few comparable ways to do this with maps.

For an overview of our approach, see the article in the Journal of Victorian Culture: “Maps of a Nation?”

About the Launch

At the MapReader Launch you will hear from librarians, historians, and data scientists about how Living with Machines has experimented with National Library of Scotland Ordnance Survey maps, and you will have a chance to test MapReader with Ordnance Survey maps from the NLS and the British Library. We are honored to be joined by two keynote speakers:

June 7 Keynote: Chris Fleet, Map Curator, National Library of Scotland

Chris Fleet has worked at the National Library of Scotland since 1994, with primary responsibilities for modern and historical digital mapping. His main activities have focused on managing and maintaining the NLS maps website – expanding its audiences, developing its map viewers, and encouraging collaborations, including with Living with Machines. He has co-authored several books on Scottish mapping, including Scotland: Mapping the Nation (2011), Edinburgh: Mapping the City (2014), Scotland: Mapping the Islands (2016), and Scotland: Defending the Nation (2018).

June 8 Keynote: Nicole Coleman, Stanford

Nicole Coleman is Digital Research Architect for Stanford Libraries and the Research Director for the Humanities + Design Lab at the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis. Nicole has been using digital tools to create, visualize, and understand humanities sources for many years. She writes regularly about the role that AI might play in research libraries, and has convened conversations and experiments at Stanford Libraries to test ways that AI methods can transform discovery and research applications for collections.

On the afternoon of June 8, we will also hear from colleagues working on other open source, interdisciplinary projects that also explore historical map collections as primary sources. These projects will be featured as resources in The Alan Turing Institute’s Computer Vision for Digital Heritage Special Interest Group new Tool Gallery. 

Speakers for this afternoon panel on June 8 include:

The MapReader Launch aims to bring together historians and others with an interest in using digitized map collections as primary sources for computational research. By bringing together peer projects working in this space for the first time, we aim to learn about and discuss ways to encourage more open research in this space through skill development and shared digital resources and infrastructure. 

Practical information

  • The event is limited to 40 registered participants, so don’t delay signing up below!
  • No prior experience with computational tools is required, however some familiarity with jupyter notebooks, Python, and digital map collections will be handy. We recommend this introduction to jupyter notebooks.
  • Vegan and vegetarian lunch options will be provided both days.
  • Please contact with questions.

We seek to remove any barriers that might prevent participants from attending our event. If you need support, send us an email via to let us know what reasonable adjustments we can meet to facilitate your participation. You may know what you would like to request, or might like to have a discussion on how we can support you.

In addition to adjustments made for those with a disability, applicants are encouraged to get in touch to discuss support with other barriers to attendance. This includes support with reasonable costs for travel, accommodation, childcare or other caring costs or other circumstances that require support that the participant is not able to meet from other sources, for instance if you are an early career researcher.

The deadline to apply for travel funding is May 25 and decisions will be made on a rolling basis. There are limited funds, so don’t delay! Contact Katie McDonough and Daniel Wilson with any questions: &

Register here

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