Maps Reading Room

The Maps Reading Room in the British Library

The Maps Reading Room is on the third floor at St Pancras and has a wealth of information and resources to help you in your research.

It is the enquiry point for all of the Library's cartographic collections. Here you can view mainly printed maps of all parts of the world dating back to the 15th century. Readers should note that there is a large collection of manuscript maps in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

In the Maps Reading Room you can:

  • View our extensive open access collection material
  • Access online databases and electronic books and journals
  • Use our catalogues to order items from our extensive reference collection.

Reference enquiries

If you need help, ask our Reference Specialists at the Enquiry Desk. They can:

  • Guide you to the most appropriate material for your research
  • Advise you on how to access and use our printed and electronic collections most effectively
  • Help you to use our catalogues and answer your bibliographic enquiries
  • Suggest other libraries, archives and institutions that you might find useful in your research, or guide you to relevant websites and free online resources
  • Provide a range of free discovery and 1-2-1 sessions to help you find your way around the collections and to make the best use of them.

If your enquiry requires more specialist help than we can provide we will forward your enquiry to the appropriate person in the British Library or suggest alternative sources.

If you are unable to visit you can contact the Maps Reference Team directly, use our Quick Chat service, or get in touch via Twitter.

Items on shelves in this Reading Room

  • Specialist reference material on history of cartography
  • Facsimile historical atlases
  • Current atlases
  • Map librarianship literature
  • Exploration and discovery
  • Ordnance Survey History
  • Ordnance Survey Large Scale County Series maps for England and Wales
  • Ordnance Survey One Inch Old Series for England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland
  • Gazetteers
  • Celestial cartography
  • Journals: Imago Mundi; Map collectors
  • Maps catalogues and Indices