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Science Library Map Room


The Map Room is located on the ground floor of the Science Library in Room G-02.

The collections include topographic and thematic maps, charts, atlases, soil surveys, geological publications, globes, gazeteers, and other cartographic reference materials. Although there is worldwide coverage, the emphasis is on the U.S. Many of the maps are received from the U.S. Federal Depository Library Program.

The Map Room provides table space for individuals and groups to consult maps and atlases. It is also equipped with a light table and a drafting table. A computer is available to access the BU Libraries catalog and databases.

Maps and atlases can be used in the Science Library or borrowed from the Information Services Desk.

There are four main methods to find maps and atlases. You can browse the collection if you know the call number range for your area of interest. You can also search the Libraries' catalog. Many, but not all, of the maps are listed in the catalog. To help you identify maps, index maps are available for certain series of maps, e.g., USGS Topographic Maps (Quadrangles). You can also use the map list, which identifies maps in the various cabinets in the Map Room. If you have questions or need help, please ask at the Science Library Information Service Desk.

Browse by Call Number

Maps and atlases are classified in the G’s. The call number assigned depends on the format (sheet map vs. atlas) and the geographic coverage. Atlases have the lower numbers (G1000-3000) and maps have the higher numbers (G3100 +). See examples below or Library of Congress Classification.

Call Numbers
G1200 -1500's
G3690 - 4380's
New York
G2200 - 2400's
G7400 - 8100's


If you cannot find a map or atlas for a particular place, try using call number ranges for broader regions. For example, if we do not have a map or atlas for Barbados, try the Caribbean or North America. In some instances a world atlas is a good starting point.

In the section of the Map Room that has reference books, you will find call numbers other than G’s. One example is the soil surveys found at S599.N7.



We suggest that you start with a basic keyword search in the entire Library Catalog. If you include the word, maps, in your list of keywords, you will retrieve items in the Science Library Map Room, plus atlases and maps in Bartle Library and Government Documents, and books with maps. This broader search approach will better indicate what is available at this University. Later on, you can select the Science Library only, or you can limit your search to the map format (MP) in the Advanced Search screen.

Sample Basic Searches (Catalog)

• Keywords: vietnam maps

Items retrieved include: government documents in Main Library (PREX); Vietnam Atlas in the Science Library Map Room at G2370 (cataloged atlas).

• Keywords: geolog* maps china [ * retrieves words with different endings]

Items retrieved are in the Science Library Map Room at G8000 and G7821 (cataloged sheet maps).

• Keywords: solar system maps

Items retrieved are in the Science Library Map Room in file cabinets along the back wall. I-2650 is Miscellaneous Geological Investigation from the USGS. Other items are found starting at G3180’s (cataloged sheet maps).

• Keywords: colorado atlas delorme

Items retrieved are in the Science Library Map Room at G1500 (cataloged atlas).

Sample Advanced Search

Purpose: retrieve geologic maps in Chinese found in the Science Library Map Room.

Search: geolog*

Sublibrary: Science Library

Language: Chinese

Format: Maps

We are glad to help you. Please ask.


Index Maps

The U.S. Geological Survey Topographic Maps (Quadrangles) at a scale of 1:24,000 are the most frequently used maps. These maps are organized by state and then by quadrangle name. The index for New York State quadrangles is kept on the table in the Map Room. Indexes for other states are found in the top drawer in Map Cabinet 1, which is on your right as you come in the door. Short-cut: You can go immediately to a specific quadrangle if you use the name of the nearest town as the quadrangle name, e.g., go to the maps for New York State in Map Cabinet 4, and then go to Saugerties. After finding that map, you may notice that the specific area you want is just outside the quadrangle. Look for names of adjacent quadrangles on either the border of the map or in the grid at the bottom of the map.

If your starting point is vague (about 20 miles east of Binghamton), you should first consult the DeLorme Topo Maps. These are the bright red books in the Atlas section of the Map Room. There is a DeLorme book for each state, and New York is at G1250. If you use the DeLorme Topo Maps in conjunction with the map index, you will see that the quadrangle sought might be Deposit or Cannonsville Reservoir.

The U.S. Geological Survey issues various series of maps and they are at different scales. Many of the USGS quadrangles that we have are at a scale of 1:24,000. When looking for any map index, be sure you find the one with the correct scale. A map’s scale is expressed as a ratio. When the ratio is smaller, less distance on the ground is represented. At 1:24,000 you can see greater detail of an area than on a map with a ratio of 1:500,000. The USGS further explains Map Scales .  

In addition to the USGS, other government agencies produce map series and index maps. Several index maps are in Map Cabinet 1, but others are filed with specific map series or they are cataloged.


Map List by Map Cabinet Number

Map Cabinet Agency and Map Series

Index Maps

For quadrangle names for USGS Topographic Maps (1:24,000 scale).

For a few other types of maps as indicated on drawer 2.

U.S. Federal Aviation Administration

Charts: Airport Obstruction, Sectional Aeronatuical, Tactical Pilotage, Operational Navigation, World Aeronautical, Jet Navigation, and Global Navigation. These charts, arranged by scale, include different levels of visual information depending on the speed and altitude of flights. The charts in the Map Room are NOT FOR NAVIGATION.


In Map Cabinets 2-6, you will find maps covering smaller geographic areas, e.g., the Endicott, NY quadrangle. These maps have a scale that is expressed as a smaller ratio, such as, 1:24,000. In Map Cabinets 7-10, you will find maps covering larger geographic areas. The scale is expressed as a larger ratio, such as, 1:100,000 or 1:500,000, and is used to represent countries, a continent, or the world.


U.S. Geological Survey

Topographic Maps (quadrangles with contours), 1:24,000, Alabama to Montana.


U.S. Geological Survey

Topographic Maps, 1:24,000, Nebraska to Ohio.

Planimetric Maps (quadrangles without contours), 1:9600, New York State.


U.S. Geological Survey

Topographic Maps, 1:24,000, Ohio to Washington.


U.S. Geological Survey

Topographic Maps, 1:24,000, Washington to Wyoming.

Topographic Maps of U.S. Forest Service lands, 1:24,000.

Metric Topographic Maps, 1:25,000, selected places in the U.S.

Topographic Maps, various scales, U.S. Trust Territories, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Virgin Islands.

USGS with U.S. Customs Service

Port of Entry Color Image Maps, 1:25,000, for AZ, CA, and TX.


U.S. Defense Mapping Agency

Topographic Maps, 1:50,000, selected places in U.S.

U.S. Geological Survey

Topographic Maps, 1:62,500, states in U.S.

Metric Topographic Maps, 1:100,000, states in U.S.

Planimetric Maps, 1:100,000, Alabama to Pennsylvania.


U.S. Geological Survey

Planimetric Maps, 1:100,000, South Carolina to Wyoming.

Topographic Maps, 1:50,000, Virginia.

County Planimetric Maps, 1:100,000, counties for some states.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

Surface Management Status Maps, 1:100,000, western U.S.

Surface Management Status Maps and Mineral Management Status Maps, 1:100,000, western U.S.

U.S. Geological Survey

Land Use/Land Cover Maps, 1:250,000, various locations in U.S.

Topographic and Imagery Maps, 1:250,000, Alaska.

Metric Topographic Maps, 1:250,000, parts of various states.

Raised Relief Topographic Maps, 1:250,000, various cities and regions, NY, PA and U.S. (These relief maps are cataloged, but are stored in Map Cabinet 8. The one for NY State is on the wall.)

Topographic and Imagery Maps, Antartica, various scales.

U.S. Defense Mapping Agency

Topographic Maps, 1:250,000, various states in the U.S.

Canada, Surveys and Mapping

Topographic Maps, 1:250,000, parts of Canadian provinces.

U.S. Army Mapping Service

Topographic Maps, 1:250,000, China, Korea.

Maps of U.S. and various countries of the world, 1:500,000, and larger ratios.

U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Defense Mapping Agency, and National Imagery and Mapping Agency.

Nautical charts with soundings. These charts are NOT FOR NAVIGATION.

U. S. Army Mapping Service

Map of Africa, 1:2,000,000.


Maps of various islands, 1:2,500,000.

Road Maps - local, states in U.S., and various countries.

Cataloged sheet maps with call numbers G3100-G5701.
Cataloged sheet maps with call numbers G5702-G9899.


Web Links

Please see the Library's Map Resources web page.

Last Updated: 6/26/20