From Raw Data to Leaflet Maps
The Digital Scholarship Group at Northeastern University Library has engaged in a number of projects that involve taking raw data from different kinds of sources, e.g. TEI or spreadsheets that might or might not contain explicit latitude and longitude values, and creating maps for the web using Leaflet and plugins for timelines and storymaps. One project among our collaborations is with the Massachusetts Historical Society. They hold a collection of the volumes of John Quincy Adams’s diary, which has over 17,000 entries. Hand encoding geo-references would require years of additional funding and labor. To address this, we have used the open-source library spaCy in coordination with tools for named entity extraction to produce data for maps. We will also discuss the affordances of Leaflet and why we have directed our development attention around it. Particular features in our consideration were 1) the well-documented API, 2) the intuitiveness of the code, 3) the range of plugins available, and 4) the simplicity of the data structures it likes, making it much more lightweight than, e.g., ArcGis.