Digital mapping

Screenshot of OS Viewer
Screenshot of OS Viewer depicting comparison view of the same area in 1998 and 2008. ©Crown Copyright. Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey®

We collect and maintain geospatial data, cartographic applications, digital aerial photography and scanned-in historic map materials.

About the collection

We receive digital mapping data from a variety of sources. Access and management varies according to the data format, location, and licensing arrangements.

What is available online?

We have the following online resources:

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

The Maps Reading Room is the best place to view digital map resources, as many materials require use of specialised software or are limited in their network access. Some map data are only stored, or accessible, on standalone PC in Maps. All CDs with a 'Maps e-media...' shelfmark are stored in the Maps Reading Room, to be loaded and used on the dedicated PC next to the Enquiry Desk. Our Main Catalogue can be searched for titles, or the Maps listing of electronic resources browsed. Subscription web resources and locally-networked resources may be limited to the Maps Reading Room owing to licensing restrictions.

However, some subscription web resources with cartographic content are available in all Reading Rooms. This is true of online research indices and journals, as well as databases including scanned maps. Please refer to the listing of Maps electronic resources for an indication of format and access.


Owing to varying copyright and licensing arrangements, printing is allowed for some, but not all, electronic resources, and is generally limited to non-commercial purposes. Ask staff at the enquiry desk for details.

How to guides

Initiate a new digitisation project with the British Library

Contact us if you want to start an externally funded project

Get a Reader Pass

A guide to how to obtain a British Library Reader Pass to use our Reading Rooms