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

The Maps Reading Room in the British Library

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 free Discovery and 1-2-1 Sessions 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

Shipwrecks and Piracy: John Rocque’s 1750 Map of Rome, part two

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

In my last blog I noted how John Rocque’s 1750 map of Rome could be considered both a personal memento for the grand tourist who likely commissioned it – Sir Bourchier Wrey – as well as a useful map for...

A Malawian mystery tour

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The British Library, with generous funding from the Indigo Trust, has recently conserved, catalogued, digitised and made freely available online a further 1,100 images of maps and associated documents relating to East Africa. The material represents part of the War...

Georg Wilhelm Schimper in Abyssinia: a new online resource

Friday, March 16, 2018

We are pleased to introduce this guest blog post by Dr Dorothea McEwan. Ethiopia is the product of a long historical process, from the Aksumite empire 2000 years ago, then the introduction of Christianity in the 4th century, the political...

International Women's Day: Helen Wallis OBE (1924-1995)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day 2018 provides the opportunity to celebrate the life and achievements of Helen Wallis OBE (1924-1995) head of the British Museum and later British Library's map collections between 1967-1986, and to promote a research fund set up in...

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

A 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