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

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...

A Journey to Bookland

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The British Library has recently acquired a most appropriate addition to its map collection: a map of ‘Bücherland’ (Bookland), designed and drawn in 1938 by the German painter and illustrator Alfons Woelfle (1884-1951). Karte des Bücherlandes Woelfle’s map was specifically...

The long search for HMS 'Terror'

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Above: the Northwest Passage as charted by Capt. Robert McClure. Chart shewing the Northwest Passage discovered by Capt. Robert le M. M’Clure [Maps.982 (51)]. Yesterday The Guardian broke the news that, after over 160 years of searching for the ships...

Map exhibition - the countdown begins

Friday, September 9, 2016

The appearance this morning of a vast new wall hanging in the British Library announced to everyone that the next big exhibition is on its way. Shakespeare has barded it up in St. Pancras for the past few months, but...

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

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.

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