Connecting Music and Place: Exploring Library Collection Data Using Geo-visualizations




mapping, local music, music collections



Objectives – This project had two stated objectives: 1) to compare the location and concentration of Saskatchewan-based large ensembles (bands, orchestras, choirs) within the province, with the intention to draw conclusions about the history of community-based musical activity within the province; and 2) to enable location-based browsing of Saskatchewan music materials through an interactive search interface.

Methods – Data was harvested from MARC metadata found in the library catalogue for a special collection of Saskatchewan music at the University of Saskatchewan. Microsoft Excel and OpenRefine were used to screen, clean, and enhance the dataset. Data was imported into ArcGIS software, where it was plotted using a geo-visualization showing location and concentrations of musical activity by large ensembles within the province. The geo-visualization also allows users to filter results based on the ensemble type (band, orchestra, or choir).

Results – The geo-visualization shows that albums from large community ensembles appear across the province, in cities and towns of all sizes. The ensembles are concentrated in the southern portion of the province and there is a correlation between population density and ensemble location. Choral ensembles are more prevalent than bands and orchestras, and appear more widely across the province, whereas bands and orchestras are concentrated around larger centres.

Conclusions – Library catalogue data contains unique information for research based on special collections, though additional cleaning is needed. Using geospatial visualizations to navigate collections allows for more intuitive searching by location, and allow users to compare facets. While not appropriate for all kinds of searching, maps are useful for browsing and for location-based searches. Information is displayed in a visual way that allows users to explore and connect with other platforms for more information.


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Author Biography

Carolyn Doi, University of Saskatchewan

Assistant Librarian, University Library, University of Saskatchewan




How to Cite

Doi, C. (2017). Connecting Music and Place: Exploring Library Collection Data Using Geo-visualizations. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 12(2), 36–52.