In 1997 a project was completed in the National and University Library of Iceland which involved making digital copies of all old maps of Iceland (printed before 1900) in its collection and putting them on the Internet. The library had received a grant from NORDINFO (Nordic Council for Scientific Information) which was to be used in the field of information technology and decided to use the money for this project. The work also enjoyed financial support from the Student Innovation Fund.
It is clear that the library does not own all maps which have been made of Iceland through the centuries. All the major maps are in its collection though, some in several copies. Early on it was decided to try to use this web to paint a complete picture of the cartography of Iceland. An attempt would be made to get digital copies of all antique maps of the country and make them available on the web. Several large collections of maps of Iceland exist, both in the hands of individuals and institutions. The Central Bank of Iceland has a collection which is smilar in size as the collection of the National Library (about 250 maps) and also the National Land Survey of Iceland and University of Iceland. In 2003-2004 by the initiative of the Central Bank and with financial support from its administration the map collection of the bank was digitized and made available on this web alongside the maps of the National Library.
In 2012 the web was improved and its design made similar with other webs by the library. All the maps were photographed again and the images are now in pdf and jpeg formats and therefore the resolution is considerably better than before. Where it was possible the backsides of the maps were also photographed. A timeline was added that gives more options for viewing the maps. A short historical description in Icelandic and English is available for most of the maps. They are based on the book Kortasaga Íslands (A history of cartography of Iceland) by Haraldur Sigurdsson. The groups where the maps have been sorted by age and origin are also based on that book.
The maps on the web have grown considerably in number, the map collection of the University of Iceland has been added and the maps of the Icelandic geographer Thorvaldur Thoroddsen. Also the maps made by the survey department of the Danish General Staff and Danish Geodetic Institute in the first half of the twentieth century. Finally maps by the U.S. Army Map Service from the years 1948-1951 have been added.
|Publication Years||Total Number of Maps||Total Number of Map Versions|
|1544 - 1951||785||1055|