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

  • A View of London from Greenwich Park

    King George III Topographical and Maritime collections

    50,000 maps, plans and views, both printed and hand-drawn, of all parts of the world
  • Chinese Terrestrial Globe


    Terrestrial and celestial globes dating back to 1600 and gores dating to 1544
  • Screenshot of OS Viewer

    Digital mapping

    Geospatial data, cartographic applications, digital aerial photography and scanned-in historic map materials
  • Diogo Homem, Queen Mary Atlas. 1558

    Manuscript maps

    The manuscript map collections of the British Library are among the finest of their kind
  • Detail of OSD 267(pt.2). Ordnance Surveyors’ Drawings. Boyce, draughtsman. 1814

    Ordnance survey mapping

    The most comprehensive, publicly accessible collection of Ordnance Survey maps in the world
  • War Office Archive

    War Office Archive

    550 military intelligence maps and associated documents relating to East Africa

How to …

Maps reading room

Maps Reading Room

  • View our extensive open access collection material
  • Access online databases and electronic journals and digitised map collections
  • Use our catalogues to order items from our extensive reference collection

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

You’ll need a Reader Pass

Mon: 10.00 – 20.00
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

A Glance – from a Safe Distance – at the Human Monsters on Pierre Desceliers’ World Map of 1550

16 November 2015

In 1550 the Norman cartographer Pierre Desceliers made a large world map (135 × 215 cm, 4.4 × 7 feet) which had been commissioned as a gift for King Henry II. This gift was intended to help rehabilitate the career...

Putting yourself on the (old) map

10 November 2015

Most of you know the British Library and a dedicated group of volunteers have, for the last few years, been plugging away at georeferencing maps from across the Library’s collections. The most recent, and rather large, set of maps has...

Magnificent Maps of New York

03 November 2015

The British Library’s ongoing project to catalogue and digitise the King’s Topographical Collection, some 40,000 maps, prints and drawings collected by George III, has highlighted some extraordinary treasures. The improved and up-dated catalogue records are now accessible to all, anywhere...

British Town Maps

28 October 2015

British Town Maps: A History by Roger J.P. Kain and Richard J. Oliver is published by the British Library and available to purchase online, and we are pleased to host this guest blog by one of its esteemed authors. Towns...

More blog posts

Maps projects


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.

Maps staff expert

Tom Harper

Curator, Antiquarian mapping

External links

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

Charles Close Society

Dedicated to the study of OS mapping

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.


Maps: Their Untold Stories

Maps: Their Untold Stories

This magnificent collection, drawn from seven centuries of maps held in the National Archives at Kew, looks at a variety of maps.


Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art

Magnificent Maps Power Propaganda and Art

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