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 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

Back to front

Thursday, August 8, 2019

With maps, as with life, defining something as wrong or right depends entirely on your standpoint. One person’s west is another person’s east, one person’s left is another's right. And vice versa. I think. You'd think maps would be unequivocal...

Two recent flight-related additions to the Map Collection

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Today’s commercial pilots are well equipped to detect and fly over or around meteorological obstacles such as thunderstorms that lie in their path, so that as passengers behind we are rarely troubled by them. But imagine if you were flying...

British Empire maps of Africa added online

Friday, April 19, 2019

Around the turn of the 20th century the British War Office in London maintained a library of original, mostly hand-drawn mapping that covered large parts of the world where detailed and reliable surveys were not otherwise available. The maps were...

Accuracy? Do me a favour!

Monday, December 10, 2018

'Atlas: a world of maps in the British Library' is a different sort of atlas to, say, the Times world atlas or the AA motoring atlas, because you would never use it to find your way from A to B...

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: 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

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