Maps Reading Room services

Most maps and atlases are consulted in the Maps Reading Room in the Causewayside Building, which has large map tables, the map card catalogue and indexes, and specialist staff to help you. If the computer catalogue indicates that an item is in the Maps Reading Room, it would normally be consulted there.

For various reasons, some maps are consulted in other reading rooms. Some examples of maps which are not consulted in the Maps Reading Room are:

  • Maps in printed books. Some maps are illustrations in printed books which are part of the general or rare books collections. The computer catalogue may indicate which reading room to use, depending on the age of the book and type of material. The Map Card Catalogue has records for many maps in books which are not shown in the book catalogues, and you may find it useful to consult this catalogue first.
  • Pre-1500 printed volumes (incunabula) and most maps in special (named) collections are consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room, George IV Bridge. The exceptions are maps in the Newman and Bartholomew Collections which are consulted in the Maps Reading Room.
  • Small manuscript maps and plans. In general, manuscript maps which are part of a collection, and are small enough to be stored with that collection, are kept in the manuscript collections and may be used in the Special Collections Reading Room. Larger manuscript maps are almost always stored in the Map Library. Manuscript Collections staff will be able to advise where the maps should be consulted.
  • The General Reading Room has some recent atlases for reference. These are usually duplicates of atlases in the Maps Reading Room.

If you need to read maps in conjunction with other material, or require to read them in the evening (when the Maps Reading Room is closed), it may be possible to transfer them to a suitable reading room in the George IV Bridge Building. However, if the maps are large, or at risk of damage, transfer may not be feasible. In some cases it may better for the related material to come to the Maps Reading Room. Please discuss this with staff. Requests for transfer for evening use must be made before 2pm.

Planning reports may be consulted in either the Maps Reading Room or General Reading Room, but as they are usually stored at Causewayside, retrieval may be faster at the Maps Reading Room.

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