IMCoS Annual Chairman’s Report for 2021

As I present my first report as Chairman, I can go no further without expressing our deep thanks to Valerie Newby for serving as Acting-Chairman during difficult worldwide circumstances.  Valerie has served the mapping community world so well.  I will now go through the key matters that I feel have been significant in the Society’ s most recent year of activity.

1. Greater use of the internet by the Society

The Executive Committee has sought to use several new methods of engaging with both members and the wider mapping community.  These have included more E-newsletters, ‘Show & Tell’ Zoom events and a 2021 Lecture series online.  All events have drawn both a worldwide audience and world-class contributors.  It is worth noting that these two event types have been curated, recorded etc, and are available now on YouTube for future use.

The excellent 2-minute online promo video for the Texas Symposium is an indicator of the way things are going, as was the ‘hybrid nature of our Brussels Symposium.  The latter was partly saved by this, but also by the the diligence of the organisers and the commitment of collectors in Benelux.

2.  Membership

Membership has been relatively stable but it is not on an upward curve – yet.  The UK is still our largest member location, with the USA at 24 percent.  Germany and Australia are our next biggest countries  – at 6 percent of of total membership each.  However, the USA is up by 11 percent whilst the UK is down by 18 percent.  The UK decline is simply through ‘natural causes’.  New members do continue to join – but not at the same rate as our existing membership is eroding.  Consequently a major thrust over the next three years will be to seek to increase membership by means of targeted campaigns.  In the past, membership grew through mechanisms that no longer exist – the Bonnington Map Fair, Regional UK events, smaller dealers with shops – so new routes to prospective members need to be found.

Clearly, there is also great room for membership expansion in countries where we only have a few members.  To this end, our network of National Representatives and their responsibilities is being overhauled.  The next three Symposia are all looking good, as we hear in the international report.  One is in a country where we are seeing the best growth (USA), another is in a country with a very active local society (Malta), and the third in a country where we have many friends but few members (Finland).

3.  The Executive Committee

Inevitably, Hans stepping down after so many years of sterling service led to a transitional period for EXCOM.  This will have settled down by the end of the year.  New candidates for the EXCOM are always welcome.  Bluntly put, in the UK we need youth and physical availability.  More widely, we need people keen to grow IMCoS in their own country.  Overall, we need people who want to spread the ‘good news’ of map collecting and map studies.

4.  The Journal.

Our editor drew our attention in her AGM report to the need for fresh contributors to the IMCoS Map Journal (as it is now known).  Submissions do not need to be lengthy.  The Society has an extensive image resource if that is a barrier.


The Society is in a healthy state, but wider trends mean that we must not rest on our laurels.  The world is changing around us at an ever-increasing speed.  Some of those changes are helping us communicate.  Others militate against traditional ways of getting involved.  The Society has a great opportunity to serve each of its three constituent member types – Collectors, Dealers and Academics.  The success of the June Reception and Awards demonstrated the fact that the deep-running enthusiasm and engagement that any Society needs to flourish is still very much present.  Let’s find yet more enthusiastic mapping people and get them engaged too!  We cannot make people love maps, but we can help them, serve them, and engage them in mapping matters.

Dr Mike Sweeting

June 2022