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Treasure Trove of Maps : Special UCLA Library Serves Academics and Adventurers Alike

January 21, 1990|PATRICIA WARD BIEDERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Already larger than any collection in the United States except those of the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the Defense Mapping Agency, the UCLA collection continues to grow. Every day, the staff clips all the maps that appear in the Los Angeles Times and other major newspapers, copies them on acid-free paper and adds them to the collection. Hagen-Lautrup said maps of Los Angeles's "restaurant row" and proposed development of the marina, for instance, could be invaluable some day to urban planners or social historians.

Since the staff believes that a map is much more than a graphic guide for getting from Point A to Point B, the collection also includes maps of imaginary places such as C. S. Lewis' Narnia and mental or cognitive maps. Mental maps, the librarian said, are graphic representations of how people (usually people who are not professional cartographers) perceive their environment.

The library's collection, for example, includes a book on how Turkish workers in Germany perceive the city of Cologne. "Some cartographers don't want anything to do with that," said Hagen-Lautrup. "They think it's trash." But Hagen-Lautrup said he and his staff are fascinated by the psychological, cultural and social implications of such highly personal maps.

Because of this interest, the collection includes many variations on the Saul Steinberg cover for the New Yorker that shows the mental map of a Manhattanite, with New York City in the foreground and nothing much of importance between the Empire State Building and the distant Pacific Ocean. Among the local versions: the United States as seen by a Santa Monican, with Santa Monica Pier as the center of the universe.

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