Program and People News

Maps Cause a Stir

Archives are usually quiet things in quiet places, but one collection of historical maps is making noise in the library world. It’s the U.S. Lake Survey charts. This collection of 76 maps, created at the request of Congress in the mid-1800s, were used for navigation and research purposes.

The print maps lay scattered in various libraries until they were gathered in Madison and digitized in 2007 by Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Wisconsin Water Library with help from the UW Digital Collections Center. The project was undertaken in cooperation with the Library of Congress, the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Sea Grant’s parent organization, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its Office of Coast Survey, took over the nautical chart-making responsibility from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1970s.

Although NOAA had a large collection of historical charts, they had no digital images of any historic Lake Survey charts at all until the Wisconsin collection became available. When they found them online, “They were ecstatic,” said Anne Moser, senior special librarian for the Wisconsin Water Library.

“They had been trying hard to find these maps, and when they saw that a digital collection was already created, they were grateful. We had done all the hard work for them: finding the maps, digitizing them and adding library metadata,” Moser said.

In addition to their home on the Wisconsin Sea Grant site, the maps are now highlighted at the top of the page on the NOAA Office of Coast Survey Historical Map & Chart Collection page.

“It is always nice to add historic charts to the collection,” said Ben Galdi, NOAA Office of Coast Survey GIS specialist. “They are great for researching the history of charts as well as preserving the Coast Survey’s history.”

Making the maps even more accessible is something to crow about!


Notable Events From Every Four Years Include New Strategic and Work Plans

A leap day.

An election for president of the United States.

The Olympics.

That’s a list of things that come around every four years. In the Sea Grant community, a new national strategic plan, state-focused strategic plan and work plan could be added to that roster. All of these plans can be reviewed at the “about us” link at

The National Sea Grant Office led the way, developing a blueprint to guide its activities for 2018 through 2021. Using that framework, each of the 33 programs in the network followed suit, including Wisconsin. At 23 pages, the Wisconsin plan captures the input of a wide range of stakeholders and partners. It also results from a rigorous process that began in February 2016 and employed surveys, listening sessions and feedback from external advisory bodies.

The strategic plan and work plan both center around the themes of healthy coastal ecosystems, resilient communities and economies, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and environmental literacy and workforce development. In each area, performance measures are laid out as a means to chart milestones. These are reported on annually and results can be tracked through material such as a program one-sheet or impact statements posted online.

Since the needs of the Great Lakes and their coastal communities do not remain static, flexibility is built into the plans, keeping Sea Grant responsive and relevant in each of those four years and regardless of the other four-year happenings—Feb. 29, political campaigning and global athletic accomplishments, for example.

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents