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

    30–40,000 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 maps

    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 – 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

Canada Through the Lens: mapping a collection

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Above: early Canadian aerial photography from the Colonial Copyright Collection, from Wikimedia Commons. This summer, to mark Canada's 150th anniversary celebrations, the British Library will be displaying a selection of photographs from its Colonial Copyright Photograph Collection under the title,...

20th Century Maps: Everything Changes, Nothing Changes

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Maps improved in their technological power during the 20th century, and as a result became better able to meet the requirements of their time. Some of them even came to symbolise key themes of the age such as dynamism and...

Maps and women

Thursday, February 23, 2017

“This is all very manly, isn’t it” a visitor said to me a while ago as I was showing a group around our current exhibition Maps & the 20th Century: Drawing the Line. And the visitor (whose own work explores...

Soviet Military Mapping of the Cold War Era

Friday, February 17, 2017

In this exclusive guest post, map historian John Davies introduces one of the most enigmatic of 20th century map genres. 'The story of Soviet military mapping is the story of a massive secret project, spanning the fifty years of the...

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

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.

Charles Close Society

Dedicated to the study of OS mapping

Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey for Great Britain

Shop our maps-inspired range

Maps Shop Item: Exhibition Book

Maps and the 20th century

A global story of the most turbulent century in history through its most powerful and important object: the map.

£20

Maps Shop item: Cross Stitch World Map

Cross Stitch Map

A world map printed on cross stitch fabric and mounted on a wooden frame.

£25

Maps Shop Item: Orange Globe Light

Globe Light Orange

See the world, see the light. A bold and elegant globe light.

£85