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

    Globes

    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
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 – 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: /subjects/news-media#sthash.Wb5AILRq.dpuf

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

For enquiries, please contact the Reference Service

Blog posts

Murder and Madness in the Castle: Macbeth’s Inverness

23 May 2016

Above: Inverness Castle before the Jacobite uprisings [BL: Maps K.Top 50.10.a] In Shakespeare’s Macbeth Inverness Castle is the site of Macbeth’s murder of King Duncan, allowing Macbeth to usurp the crown. It is also where Macbeth’s descent into madness plays...

Less of a Random Mapper: a new feature for Georeferencer

27 April 2016

Above: a map of tropical Australia, from the 'Australia and New Zealand' subset. Those of you who have used the British Library's Georeferencer in the past will know that it has an interesting quirk; you don't get to choose the...

'Whither the Fates Carry Us': Bermuda goes Off the Map

23 February 2016

Above: Mappa ÆSTIVARUM Insularum, alias BERMUDAS dictarum [BL: Maps K Top 123.127] It's time for another 'Off the Map' competition here at the British Library and GameCity, with this year's theme being built around our upcoming Shakespeare exhibition. You can...

Money for old charts: printing maps in the nineteenth century

08 February 2016

Above: A map from Henry Francis Abell's, History of Kent, as overlaid by the Georeferencer. With 2016 well underway it is a great pleasure to see work on the 50,000 maps held in the Georeferencer continuing apace. It looks like...

More blog posts

Projects

Georeferencing

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

Library experts

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

Shop

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.

£30

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.

£45

Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art

Magnificent Maps Power Propaganda and Art

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

£20