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Maps: Finding printed maps

A guide to finding and using printed and digital maps.

Searching Enterprise for maps

All atlases are included in the Enterprise catalogue, as are maps acquired after 1993. In addition, there are records on the catalogue for all older maps of a number of countries:

To perform a basic search for maps on Enterprise, search for the location you want, then refine using the format in the 'Limit these results' function to include only maps and atlases (atlases are listed separately - you may need to select 'more' to see all the options). 

When searching for thematic maps, include the topic in the search string rather than attempting to refine by subject.  Many maps have only a basic record and so are not included in the subjects listed in 'Limit these results'.

So for a general geology map of Italy, search for:
'geology italy'; then refine by the format - 'maps'

This will retrieve around 13 items.

Search tips:

  • Start with the most specific geographic area and generalise if there are few results. For example, for a map of a rural area of Kenya, a town name may produce no results, but a search on ‘kenya topographic'  and then refining by 'maps' produces seven records. Three of these have links to an online index map which indicates if the required area is covered.  


Worksheets are also available to help you learn how to search Enterprise:

Search the Enterprise catalogue

Search Enterprise to find maps.

Maps card catalogue

Earlier acquisitions will be listed in the Map card catalogue, which is available on the 4th Floor of the Library, near the map cabinets.

The entries are arranged by geographical area (continents, countries, oceans), each of which is sub-divided by districts, regions, counties, etc.

Subject entries follow, including Geology, Soils and Town plans (which are arranged alphabetically). Within each section the arrangement is by scale, progressing from small (general) scale to large (specific). Each catalogue card will have a note of the map location in the top right hand corner.

Types of map

These definitions may help you decide which type of map you need.

  • Topographic map – A map which shows ‘what is there’ – natural features eg rivers, lakes, woods, and cultural features eg. roads, railways, buildings. It may also indicate height.
  • Thematic map – A map which shows the geographical distribution of a particular theme eg geology, soil type, population density, vegetation, land use.

Obtaining maps

Some maps will have the call number FIELD MAP - they are available in filing cabinet drawers on the 4th Floor.  They may be accessed and borrowed as a standard loan.  All other call numbers will need to be requested for collection.

To request a map, you will need to note:

  • Brief title
  • Scale (if given)
  • Publisher
  • Sheet number or name if it is part of a map series.
  • Call number or map location. Please note that as the map records are still a work in progress, many records on Enterprise will not give a valid call number.  Instead it will give an alpha-numeric code eg  'XX(1088848.1)'.  In these cases, you need to note the Added location

Take all this information to Charlie Carpenter, in the 4th Floor office, and he will advise you when you can collect the map. Some material is housed off site, so may take more than 24 hours to retrieve.

Maps cannot be retrieved at weekends or after 17:00. If this is the only time you can visit, please email or phone Charlie Carpenter in advance to arrange retrieval and access.

Series mapping & graphic indexes

A map series is a set of maps, all made to the same specifications, which cover an entire area in a systematic manner. An example is the Ordnance Survey Landranger series of Great Britain. Most countries have several national map series at a variety of scales. They may be topographic or thematic.

We catalogue each map series as a single item, so please note that if you search for individual sheet names you will not find them (this is similar to a journal, where there is one entry for the journal title and individual articles are not indexed). You need to search for the larger area, a country or perhaps a region.  You may want to think about using a map series if your search does not find any maps - it doesn't mean we don't have any!

As sheet numbering can often be complex, it is often easiest to show which sheets cover which area, and indeed which sheets we actually have, by using a graphic index. These may be online or in index books held on the 4th Floor, near the map cabinets. The online indexes can be accessed from the catalogue record – follow the link ‘Click here to see which sheets we have’.


I need a map of the Perigueux region of France, but Enterprise can only find a map of the town

Search using 'France topographic', and refine for 'maps'. This finds 38 matches.  Checking through the list, you will find various map series, including the Sèrie orange, which is the 1:50 000 series covering France.  This has an index attached to the record, so the correct sheet can be determined.