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

Mapping as poetry: looking at ‘Spatial Poem No.2, a fluxatlas’

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Can maps express poetry? French architect Le Corbusier believed so. In Towards a New Architecture, his influential work on Modernism of 1923, he selected this image of an aeroplane cockpit - an aviation map surrounded by dials – to illustrate...

The Subterranean World

Friday, July 31, 2020

For centuries scholars speculated about the Earth’s composition with many believing that our planet’s centre was occupied by an eternal inferno. By the mid-17th century geographers were attempting to describe man’s physical environment and maps played an important part in...

World Map World Cup: what happened and five things we've learnt

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

We held our just-for-fun World Map World Cup during the week of 6 July. 16 carefully selected world maps (drawn from a considerably longer long list) produced from between the 11th and 20th centuries, taken from the British Library map...

Maps and photography: a brief history, part 3

Friday, July 17, 2020

This final chapter discusses a number of cartographic innovations from the middle of the twentieth century onwards that exploited the ability of photographs to capture data - from developments in aerial photogrammetry, through multispectral satellite mapping and surveillance imagery, to...

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