Web site maps out information on Kosovo, foreign affairs

by Emily Dalnodar

Until the crisis in Yugoslavia broke out, many people couldn’t point to Kosovo on a map.
“I knew Kosovo was in Eastern Europe, but I didn’t really know in particular where it was,” said Justin Holt, a College of Liberal Arts sophomore.
Now, three weeks into NATO airstrikes to halt Serbian troops from forcing ethnic Albanians out of Kosovo, many Americans are becoming familiar with the area.
For those who still don’t know where the Yugoslav republic or its neighbors are, the University John R. Borchert Map Library online could be the answer.
“We have a section called Maps in the News,” said Brent Allison, the map librarian and Webmaster. “It has links for news stories — not just current but past stories as well.”
While the Wilson Library’s Borchert map room has always carried a Maps in the News section, Allison said the online version was the logical next step.
“We were one of the first departments in the library to go online,” Allison said. “We’ve had a Web site since 1993 or 1994.”
The site boasts several maps: an interactive atlas from CNN, including information on air strikes against Yugoslavia; a Kosovo road map; Kosovo maps from The Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas-Austin; and a Yugoslavia map from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The map from the Yugoslav government shows an altered version of its country that doesn’t distinguish Kosovo as a separate republic anymore. The drawn lines that once identified Kosovo from the rest of Yugoslavia are gone.
Drastic changes such as this almost immediately show up online. The site is frequently updated and contains recent news releases from CNN.
“We get several hundred hits a day in the Maps in the News section, and we update it whenever there’s something in the news,” Allison said.
Several University students said they don’t have time to read the newspapers or watch television news. Most know very little about the Kosovo conflict, except that it’s a conflict.
“I don’t really follow (the Kosovo conflict),” Holt said. “Most of what I do know comes from talking to people.”
Many students do, however, spend time online. For these students, the map library might fill in the information gaps.
“I get most of my news from newspapers or online,” said Darbin Moll, a CLA senior. Moll said she would be more likely to visit the Internet site than actually go to Wilson Library.
In addition to news on the Kosovo crisis, the site also contains maps and articles on European avalanches, Kurdish protests and Columbian earthquakes.