We have one of the largest collections of maps, plans and topographical views in the world, numbering some 4.5 million, with a chronological spread of over 2,000 years

Collection guides

Maps reading room

Maps Reading Room

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic journals
  • Order collection items to the Reading Room via our catalogues

If you need help, ask our Information Specialists at the enquiry desk.

You’ll need a Reader Pass

Mon: 10.00 – 17.00
Tue – Sat: 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays: closed

Mon 10.00 – 20.00
Tue - Thu 09.30 – 20.00
Fri – Sat 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays Closed - See more at: http://www.bl.uk/subjects/news-media#sthash.Wb5AILRq.dpuf

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

For enquiries, please contact the Reference Service

Blog posts

Map Reading in the 20th Century

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

In the 20th century maps truly arrived at people’s fingertips. People learnt to read maps and to use them for a wide number of pursuits, especially (though not exclusively) finding their way around. The Ordnance Survey’s National Map Reading Week...

100 Aker Wood

Friday, October 14, 2016

An extremely famous 20th century map made its debut on this day 90 years ago. The illustrator E.H. Shepherd's map of Hundred Acre Wood was included on the endpapers of A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh. It would have been the first map...

20th century maps: the globe

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

As the opening of our major exhibition Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line approaches, it is time to explain the background to the enigmatic globe that has begun appearing in posters and online. It is mysterious hemisphere with...

Maps and Macbeth

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Following the Shakespeare exhibition at the BL this summer I thought I would highlight the Lyceum Theatre, one of the London theatres that staged some of the many great Shakespearean productions of the late nineteenth century. Today’s Lyceum differs from...

More blog posts



Crowdsourcing location data to make a selection of its vast collections of maps fully searchable and viewable using popular online geotechnologies.

Off the map

An annual videogame design competition for UK higher education students

All projects

Library experts

Tom Harper

Curator, Antiquarian mapping

Case studies

…...Discovering a lost 15th-century city...…

Using our maps collection: Diana Newall, art historian

External links

The British Library is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey for Great Britain

Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey for Great Britain


Art and History of Globes (hardback)

Art and History of Globes

Celebrating the art and history of the globe, this book focuses on the 400 years when the printed globe occupied an important place in the history of European exploration.


Map umbrella

Map umbrella

This umbrella has a black exterior and its interior presents a fascinating 17th-century map of London, originally produced by Georg Braun.


Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art

Magnificent Maps Power Propaganda and Art

Magnificent maps, expressing an enormous variety of differing world views.