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Maps, atlases and gazetteers – University of Reading

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Maps, atlases and gazetteers

This page gives information about our physical map collections. For online sources see Digital maps and geographical data.


The maps held in the Library cover nearly all parts of the world, but with a special emphasis on the British Isles and Europe. Most maps are modern (post 1945), the only significant historical material being Ordnance Survey mapping from the early 19th century onwards.

The collection contains both topographic (general purpose) and thematic (special purpose) maps. Ordnance Survey topographic maps of Great Britain at scales of 1:50 000 and 1:25 000 and of Ireland at 1:50 000 are regularly updated. Much of Europe and parts of Africa and the Caribbean are covered at 1:50 000 scale, while elsewhere, best cover is more usually at scales of 1:250 000 or 1:1 000 000. Thematic maps include maps of geology, soils and land cover. Whilst thematic holdings of Great Britain are comprehensive, holdings of the rest of the world are selective and patchy.

Use the catalogue to find out what we have in stock, although some pre-1993 maps may only be listed in the Maps Card Catalogue on the 2nd Floor of the Library. For more information about searching for maps on Enterprise, see our guide to Finding maps and the Detailed guide to finding maps.

Ordnance Survey data can be accessed for academic use via Digimap. For other online sources see Digital maps and geographical data.

If you need any help, contact Judith Fox, the Map Librarian.


The atlas collection includes world, regional, national and thematic atlases.

General and historical atlases can be found at the Call Numbers 911 and 912 in the relevant sequence depending on size. A few can also be found in the Ground and 4th Floor Reference sections, and in the Map Reference section on the 2nd Floor.

Thematic atlases are kept with other material on the same subject.

Search Enterprise to find out what we have in stock (include the word "atlases" in your search or refine by 'Atlas').


Gazetteers are lists of geographical features, usually place names, political or administrative divisions and physical features. Most gazetteers are on the 4th Floor, although a few general ones will be found in the Ground Floor Reference Collection and in the Map Reference section on the 2nd Floor.

Search Enterprise to find out what we have in stock (include the word "gazetteers" in your search).

Freely available online gazetteers are listed in the Gazetteers section of the Maps and GIS: useful websites guide.

Air photographs

This collection includes both black-and-white, and true and false colour prints. Cover is mostly in the UK. Complete cover of Berkshire is held for 1976, 1981, 1986 and 1991, the last two sets in colour. Some foreign cover is held, notably of Norway, Italy, Morocco and Tunisia. Topcon mirror stereoscopes are available for viewing the photographs stereoscopically.

To consult this collection contact the Map Librarian, Judith Fox - indicate the geographical area you are interested in and the date.

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