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Map Collection Basics. By Christopher J.J. Thiry The Accidental Map Librarian Workshop March 29, 2007. Methods to acquire maps and atlases. Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Colorado state depository program Gifts from patrons Gifts from other libraries

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map collection basics

Map Collection Basics

By Christopher J.J. Thiry

The Accidental Map Librarian Workshop

March 29, 2007

methods to acquire maps and atlases
Methods to acquire maps and atlases
  • Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP)
  • Colorado state depository program
  • Gifts from patrons
  • Gifts from other libraries
  • Free – AAA, visitors centers, National Geographic
  • Purchase
paper map advantages and disadvantages

Easily recognizable

Great in displays

No special equipment needed

Can view entire map at once

Displays information quickly




Can be used by only one patron at a time

Difficult to store flat

Flat files are large, heavy, and very expensive

Paper MapAdvantages and Disadvantages
globes atlases
Globes & Atlases
  • A globe – any size – current
  • Rand McNally Goode's World Atlas
  • World Atlas—National Geographic Atlas of the World
  • Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World,
  • National Geographic African Adventure Atlas
road atlases
Road Atlases
  • Rand McNally The Road Atlas: US, Canada, Mexico
  • Colorado Atlas and Gazetteer
  • Benchmark Colorado Road & Recreation Atlas
  • Rand McNally 2006 Denver Metro, Colorado: Street Guide
historical atlases
Historical Atlases
  • Historical atlas of the United States
  • Historical atlas of Colorado
  • Historical Atlas of the Holy Lands
  • There’s a Map on My Lap
topos from the us geological survey
Topos from the US Geological Survey
  • Excellent for historical research.
  • Some sheets up-to-date, others over 50 years old.
  • Different scales.
  • Complete coverage of the US.
  • Good to own maps of your library’s city and county--$6 each.
  • Free indexes
castle rock colorado topos
Castle Rock, Colorado Topos
  • 1:500,000 1980
  • 1:250,000 1978
  • 1:125,000 1898
  • 1:125,000 1913
castle rock colorado cont
Castle Rock, Colorado cont.
  • 1:100,000 1983
  • 1:62,500 1945
  • 1:50,000 1976
castle rock colorado cont1
Castle Rock, Colorado cont.
  • 1:24,000 1965
  • 1:24,000 1971
  • 1:24,000 1980
  • 1:24,000 1994
free maps
Free Maps
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Visitors Centers
  • AAA (with membership)
  • State road maps
general maps
General Maps
  • Travel maps -- Rand McNally, ITM, Michelin, etc.
  • National Geographic – from magazine, wall maps
  • Travel guide books
  • Hiking maps – Trails Illustrated, Latitude 40, Skyterrain, Trail Tracks
  • Raised relief
maps produced by the federal government
Maps Produced by the Federal Government
  • CIA – excellent base maps, many up-to-date, most scanned
usgs maps
  • State maps -- excellent base maps, can be plain, with topography, or with shaded relief
  • County series – complete coverage of Colorado at 1:50,000
  • National Parks -- most out-of-date, show topography and often shaded relief.
nfs nps blm
  • National Park Service – black boarder, given away free at park entrances, up-to-date
  • National Forest Service – up-to-date, shows roads, trails, camping, no contours
  • Bureau of Land Management – similar to Forest Service maps. Surface and Mineral Management maps out-of-date the moment they are printed
map reference books
Map Reference Books
  • Guide to U.S. Map Resources
  • Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust
  • Land Navigation Handbook: The Sierra Club Guide to Map, Compass & GPS (Sierra Club Outdoor Adventure Guides)
acquiring paper maps locally
Acquiring Paper Maps -- Locally
  • Mapsco, Denver (big map store)
  • Arwyn Map Co., Wheat Ridge
  • Crossroads Map Co., Denver
  • Art Source International (antique maps), Boulder
  • Old Map Gallery (antique maps), Denver
  • REI (hiking and mountain biking maps), Denver, Boulder, Westminster
  • US Geological Survey Map Sales Counter (only USGS, BLM, and US Forest Service products)
  • Most large bookstores (Boarders, etc.) have maps and some atlases
  • “Free” sources – chambers of commerce, visitors centers
  • See the Yellow Pages for more
acquiring maps via the web
Acquiring maps via the Web
  • For a more complete list go to: Odden's Bookmarks of Maps and Mapping -- over 22,000 links to map sites.
  • MapLink--specializing in tourist maps.
  • Omni Resources--specializing in topographic and geologic maps.
  • Treaty Oak--specializing in maps of South and Central America
  • DeLorme Mapping--travel atlases and digital topos.
  • US Geological Survey (topos, national parks, national forests)
  • Online booksellers (Amazon, have maps and atlases
maps on the web advantages and disadvantages

Can be up-to-date

Can be used by many patrons at a time

Not storage issues

Can be dynamic


Difficult to find quickly

Special equipment needed – high-speed internet, better computer, larger monitor

Questionable authority

Difficult to print out other than 8.5 x 11

Cannot view entire map on screen at once

Maps on the Web Advantages and Disadvantages
how to begin thinking about maps on the web
How to Begin Thinking About Maps on the Web
  • Static (PDF/JPG)

– just a picture

– unchanging

  • Dynamic
    • Interactive
    • Customizable Maps (WebGIS)
    • Can see changes
maps on the web reference
Maps on the Web -- Reference
  • Map Librarian’s Toolbox by the Western Association of Map Libraries (WAML)
  • Colorado School of Mines Map Room
  • University of Colorado, Boulder Map Library
finding your way on the web
Finding Your Way on the Web

The Big 3

geographic names information system gnis geonet
Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) & GeoNET
  • Searchable database from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names
  • Includes foreign & domestic names
  • Includes place’s co-ordinates, topo sheet name, and county
    • For USA has links to topos and aerial photos
national atlas
National Atlas
  • Printable maps
  • Interactive maps (Dynamic Maps)
  • Customizable maps (Map Maker)
  • Download raw data
the national map the nation s topographic map for the 21 st century
The National Map: The Nation’s Topographic Map for the 21st Century
  • “The National Map is a consistent framework for geographic knowledge needed by the Nation. It provides public access to high-quality, geospatial data and information from multiple partners to help support decision-making by resource managers and the public.”
perry casta eda library map collection
Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection
  • CIA maps
  • Many other maps: news agencies, other government agencies, historical maps
library of congress american memory project
Library of Congress American Memory Project
    • Civil War Maps
    • Liberia ~ Maps ~ 1830-1870
    • Maps and Cartographic Items ~ 1500-Present
    • National Parks ~ Maps
    • Panoramic Maps ~ 1847-1929
    • Railroads ~ Maps ~ 1828-1900
    • Revolutionary Era Maps ~ 1750-1789
    • World War II Military Situation Maps
  • MrSID & JPEG2000 files
  • Need special software to download/print
david rumsey collection
David Rumsey Collection
  • “The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has over 14,800 maps online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North and South America maps and other cartographic materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia and Africa are also represented. Collection categories include antique atlas, globe, school geography, maritime chart, state, county, city, pocket, wall, children’s and manuscript maps. The collection can be used to study history, genealogy and family history.”
  • Viewing software may be impeded by individual computer settings.
historic aerial photographs of colorado
Historic Aerial Photographs of Colorado
  • Access to over 1,700 digitized aerial photographs of Colorado taken by the U.S. Forest Service in the years from 1938 to 1947
aerial photos terraserver usa
Aerial photos – Terraserver USA
  • Not to be confused with – fee-based site
  • Includes aerial photos, “urban areas” aerial photos, and topographic maps
flood maps
Flood Maps
  • Flood maps by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Up-to-date
  • Look the same as paper versions
u s census bureau mapping
U.S. Census Bureau Mapping
  • Congressional District Maps
  • Online Mapping
    • American Fact Finder
    • TIGER Map Server
soil maps
Soil Maps
  • Soil maps from the US Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Not entire country covered
  • Some just scans of older surveys and not all surveys scanned.
  • Must define AOI (Area of Interest)
  • Use tabs to move back and forth between base map and soil map
other useful sites
Other Useful Sites
  • National Geological Mapping Database -- Includes a searchable catalog of paper and digital geologic maps
  • Geospatial One Stop – digital (GIS) data produced by the federal government
  • Odden’s Bookmarks (
  • Rocky Mountain Map Society
  • Western Association of Map Libraries (WAML)
contact information
Contact Information

Christopher J.J. Thiry

Map Librarian

Arthur Lakes Library

Colorado School of Mines

Office: (303) 273-3697

Fax: (303) 273-3199