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

Readers at desks in the Maps Reading Room

Maps Reading Room

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

If you need help, ask our Information Specialists at the enquiry desk or contact the Maps Reference Service Team.

We offer a range of free Reader sessions and 1-2-1 consultations to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

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

Blog posts

An Atlas of the Himalayas by a 19th Century Tibetan Lama: A Journey of Discovery

Thursday, July 2, 2020

A guest post by Dr Diana Lange of the Institute for Asian- and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin In the late 1960s the former British Indian diplomat and Tibetologist Hugh Richardson noticed a collection of maps and drawings in the...

Potosí, the celebrated city

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Have you ever heard of Potosí? Or perhaps wondered what is so special about this Bolivian city that it appeared on the early maps of South America alongside the views of well-known places like Havana, Rio de Janeiro and Mexico...

Flickr Maps on the Georeferencer Finished!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Way back in 2014, the British Library released over 50000 images of maps onto the Georeferencer that had been extracted from the millions of Flickr images from books with the help of volunteers. Ever since then the volunteers have been...

Maps and photography: a brief history, part 2

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The previous part of this article discussed the introduction of photography into maps and mapmaking over the first hundred years after its invention in the 1830s. Photography was initially used to complement information found on the map, by recording topographical...

More blog posts

Projects

Georeferencer

Help us make our maps fully searchable and viewable using online geotechnologies.

Off the Map: Videogame & Interactive Fiction Design Competition

A videogame and interactive fiction design competition for UK higher education students

All projects

Library experts

Tom Harper

Curator, Antiquarian mapping

Dr Gethin Rees

Lead Curator, Digital Mapping

Case studies

More Case studies
…King George III’s Topographical Collection is a truly amazing collection in the British Library…

Maps, the Italian Grand Tour and the King’s Topographical Collection

…...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 and the 20th century

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

£20

Cross Stitch Map

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

£25

Globe Light Orange

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

£85