The Olive Tree
By Michael Hermann
Michael Hermann is the lead cartographer designing The Historical Atlas of Maine, a project located in the Canadian-American Center. For more information see www.umaine.edu/canam/
It was in Fogler Library's University Club that rough drafts of a new project, called the Campus Heritage Map, were discussed by a small group of faculty and staff. Susan Brawley, Professor of Biology, envisioned a map focused on the history of the campus emphasizing the University's foundation and success. David Smith, Emeritus Professor of History, said "Everyone wants a sense of belonging to something that's real, and in this case, what's real is what has been here and will be here. When people unfold this map, we hope they will see something new, and see the campus in a new way. They will see that the campus is more than just a place to park their car."
At the time, fall of 2000, they could only hope it would be well received, much less become the defining map of UMaine. The publication was made possible by an anonymous donation of $7500 to the University of Maine Foundation secured by (then) interim Provost Donald Zillman.
Fortuitous to the project's timing was that I was a new hire with the Canadian-American Center's Historical Atlas of Maine, and the only professional cartographer on campus. My director, Stephen Hornsby, was on the ad hoc Campus Map Committee, and he asked me to join the discussions. I embraced the committee's ideas and found ways to integrate the multitude of information into one comprehensive product.
Vernacular language tells us we 'read' a map, in the way one reads a book or newspaper. In addition to the descriptive narrative accompanying the photographs, the map graphic itself is designed to inform and instruct. The map is rich with layers of information that the reader can organize visually. This allows the reader to identify the University's core, which is a National Register Historic District. This is given special attention with explanations of the campus' oldest buildings.
From the earliest remaining campus buildings, dating from 1840, the colorful pattern illustrates the last centuries growth. Buildings with a number lead to a related photograph and narrative. Thirty-five deciduous and coniferous tree symbols form a comprehensive living example of northern tree diversity. A trail of Black Bear prints suggests a self-guided campus tour, and the bike path leads into the University Forest. Sports fields, recreation areas, river access, even Bumstock gets special treatment. Emergency callbox locations are symbolized. Roads are named on the map, although there are no street signs on campus, and primary sidewalks suggest shortcuts when freed from the car. Where previous campus maps had been primarily about parking lots, we strived to include all the parking information in a way that did not dominate the map. The parking lots are subtly color coded with all five permit categories.
Several faculty members have found ways to integrate the map into curriculum in English, History, and Forestry. The map serves an important role in the University's public perception; as a recruiting tool it answers many questions about "What's it like at UMaine?" The map has become an important outreach tool by allowing people to see the buildings and learn the history.
I like the fact it was designed in the comfort of the Canadian-American Center, one of the last remaining wooden buildings on campus, and a fine example of what the original UMaine was like. In August of this year we printed our largest run to date, 25,725 copies, and coordinated with Marketing to distribute them statewide. From humble beginnings, the Campus Map Committee has made a lasting contribution to the University.
The original Map Committee: Harold Borns, Professor of Geological Sciences & Quaternary Studies; Susan H. Brawley, Professor of Plant Biology; Michael Hermann, Mapmaker; Stephen Hornsby, Associate Professor of Anthropology & Canadian Studies; Martha McNamara, Assistant Professor of History; Kyra Rusch, Assistant Director of Admissions; David C. Smith, Bird & Bird Professor Emeritus of History.
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