Map Collection

The University of Chicago Map Collection is one of the largest university map libraries in North America. Its 475,000 maps, 10,000 air photos, 2000 books, and hundreds of gigabytes of spatial data constitute a rich source of information for scholars and other users.


The Map Collection's sheet map holdings are now mostly cataloged. As of the spring of 2015, more than 98% of the titles in the Collection were fully cataloged. Records for the Collection's many large sets typically do not contain sheet-level holding information.

Digital Data

Cartographic information has more and more come to be available as digital data. The Map Collection has been acquiring digital cartographic data since 1992. In addition to data, it holds software packages--including ArcGIS 10.3--that can be used to turn data into maps. It also has database management programs that can be used to manipulate data. In addition, the Collection also holds numerous stand-alone mapping packages that contain both data and software. It also has a printer for printing maps and a scanner for digitizing them. Cartographic Information in Digital Form at the University of Chicago Map Collection describes these resources in more detail.


The Collection houses about a thousand atlases, including most major world, national, provincial and urban atlases as well as numerous thematic atlases. These "atlases" include an increasing number of bound sets of facsimile maps: such publications enable the user to fill the major gaps that are inevitable in any one collection. In addition, there are approximately five hundred reference books available, including most of the standard cartobibliographies. Finally, a modest travel collection is maintained. This contains both classics (e.g., WPA guides, Baedekers) and a representative selection of contemporary guidebooks.

Collection Development

The Collection has been adding several thousand new sheet maps, several dozen books, and a substantial amount of digital data every year. A collection-development policy statement is available.