Wednesday, May 09, 2007

No love for for the tops of malls

Every once in a while, we get an interesting question on the desk. By which I mean, not usual. Something that requires me to think about where I find the information.

I just had a guy call up and ask for an aerial photo of the local mall. After prodding a little bit, doing what we in the biz call a "reference interview," I found out that his kid, in school in ?Europe? needs it for some project or another. He says "It should be easy to find."

Strangely enough, my gut agrees, although my head is laughing. Easy? Ariel photo of a mall?

I fussed around on Google images for awhile. We have a collection of ariel photographs taken by a local dude, but I thought the mall was newer than the collection by several decades (I may have been wrong). I probably should have checked the mall website.

What I eventually did is talk him through finding the mall on Google Maps, using he satellite view, and then copying the screen into paint. I don't know if it will suffice (I imagine it would be rather hard to alter in a image program, for one, and the mall isn't very distinguishable from the surrounding parking lot for another) but he seemed happy, and the law of diminishing returns kind of made me feel like it wasn't worth pursuing.

I was happy to have thought of Google Maps. I'm surprised his kid didn't twig to it, personally. I was only thinking of it because I had an involved conversation with a co-worker about a senior center replacing a greenhouse in my neighborhood, which reminded me of a conversation I'd had with my friend Adam upon my moving out here. He'd been using Google maps to look at my new house, asking what that air plane hanger looking thingy was. It was the other greenhouse in my neighborhood.

It is funny that both the patron and I thought it would be "easy" to find aerial photographs of a mall. Why? Who cares about the tops of malls? Even if there is some kind of architectural need to photograph malls from the air, who would bother to collect the information? If it was collected, who would care enough to spare the time and effort to collate it on a web page, much less print it? What library would let a said collection take up shelf space if it were printed? It would certainly not been available in your average public library fifteen years ago.

In the age of the internet, we expect everything to be online. Everything. In fact, the roof of the crossroads mall is, to my knowledge, only online as an artifact of another resource.

Websites and other electronic resources, though they take up so little physical space, still take time and effort. There has to be interest, personal or financial, in gathering and collating the info. I'm still fussing around on the internet, looking for a mall roofs site, not finding it. Sad to say, no love for mall roofs. I doubt that even Santa Clause, the king of both mallrats and rooftop topography, cares enough to make a website.