Mapping the ASU Library map collection

3D image of Map and Geospatial Hub

Everyone, no matter where they’re located, now has the power to visit Arizona State University's Map and Geospatial Hub, located on the third floor of Hayden Library, to explore and access its geographic information resources.

All thanks to a new tool: the 3D Explorer.

The 3D Explorer is an interactive 3D web scene that literally maps the ASU Library map collection, the Map and Geospatial Hub. With some powerful search and visualization features, the tool allows anyone, from anywhere in the world, to virtually visit and explore the thousands of maps and other materials housed in the Map and Geospatial Hub as if they were physically located in the space itself. 

“Especially during the pandemic, when it may be more difficult for some to visit the library in person, the 3D Explorer lets us bring library treasures directly to them,” said Matthew Toro, director of the Map and Geospatial Hub, who oversaw the project, which was led by the hub’s first fully remote intern. “The main driver for this project was really about expanding access to the ASU Library’s cartographic collections.”

The Map and Geospatial Hub is home to tens of thousands of maps, aerial photographs and other geographic information resources. These collections focus on the greater Phoenix metro region, the peoples and communities throughout the state of Arizona, the greater American Southwest and Mexico, but its collections cover the whole globe. 

Toro spoke with ASU News about the library’s new virtual research tool, the 3D Explorer, and how it allows people to get closer to library collections even if they can’t visit in person.