The sections on this page describe some of the major types of maps contained in the Maps Collection in Davis Library. This list is by no means comprehensive; several other kinds of maps can be found in the collection.
Use the library catalog to search the collection.
Aeronautical charts are mainly designed to help pilots plan and fly a selected route, but they also contain features that are useful for other kinds of research. Aeronautical charts are typically topographic charts with flight information overlayed on top of them. These charts are often the only means of getting topographic information for various parts of the globe.
The following are the main kinds of aeronautical charts collected by the library:
These charts are produced by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). (This was formerly known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency.)
How To Find Aeronautical Maps
These charts are listed in the catalog. Tactical Pilotage Charts (TPC) and Operational Navigation Charts (ONC) for the world can be found in the Map Cases in the Davis Library Lower Level. Please ask at the Davis Library Service Desk for assistance in locating these materials.
The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for the management and conservation of over 250 million acres of public lands and nearly 700 million acres of subsurface mineral deposits. Most of this land is in the western United States. BLM produces maps covering a variety of topics including surface management, subsurface mineral management, recreational access, mineral surveys, floating guides, and more.
Two kinds of BLM maps are predominantly represented in the Maps Collection. They are topographic maps with the appropriate theme overlayed on top. The scale for these maps is typically 1:100,000.
How to Find BLM Maps
BLM maps and charts can be found using the catalog. Please ask at the Davis Library Service Desk for assistance in locating these materials.
Country maps show basic details of the political and physical terrain of a country. Cities, provinces or regions, rivers, lakes, mountains, major roads, and similar features are often shown.
Country maps are produced by a variety of private companies and public agencies. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is one of the more notable public agencies that publishes country maps. Country maps often come in various scales and often differ in their thematic content (i.e. physical vs. political).
How to Find Country Maps
A basic collection of country maps is available in Davis Library. Please ask Service Desk staff for assistance in locating these materials.
Geologic maps portray selected natural features of the earth. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is a major producer of geologic maps as are a variety of state level departments (i.e. Colorado Geological Survey, North Dakota State Water Commission, etc.).
Below are some examples of what geologic maps portray.
Various kinds of geologic maps for other countries are available but are produced and collected with far less frequency than for the United States.
How to Find Geological Maps
Geologic maps are located in the Maps Collection Many can be identified using the catalog.
This category covers a diverse range of material, from facsimiles of maps produced in the ancient world to maps published in the 18th and 19th centuries depicting the world, world regions, and the Americas. Generally, time periods covered in these maps range from the classical period to the 19th century.
How to Find Historical Maps
If your area of research focuses on North Carolina, you may want to contact the North Carolina Collection, which also holds a large number of maps. Many historical North Carolina maps can be found in NC Maps.
Nautical charts are meant to assist sailors in navigating water hazards and finding safe passage. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Coast Survey produces many of the maps used for marine navigation and all current issues of these are available online (see below). The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGIA) also publishes a substantial number of navigational charts covering the globe.
Nautical charts come in a range of scales depending on the area to be displayed. Bathymetry data (in fathoms) is typically shown on Office of Coast Survey charts.
How to Find Nautical Maps
These charts are listed in the catalog. Please ask Davis Library Service Desk staff for assistance in locating these materials.
Sanborn Maps were originally created to aid the insurance industry in assessing risk. They show towns at specific points in their history and provide detailed information on street layout, civic infrastructure, building type, building use, ownership, public buildings, and construction materials.
Sanborn maps are valuable historical tools for urban specialists, architects, geographers, genealogists, historians, planners, environmentalists, and anyone who wants to learn about the history and development of specific cities, towns, and neighborhoods.(Source: NC LIVE)
How to Find Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
The North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library contains an extensive collection of Sanborn Maps for the state.
Among the most well-known and well-used maps in the map collection, topographic maps provide users with a quick way to assess the elevation of a given area.
The United States Geological Survey publishes topographic maps for the U.S. at the following scales. NOTE: The USGS no longer publishes topo maps in paper format.
Aeronautical charts (see to the left) often contain topographic information as well. They are often the only way to get topographic information for areas outside of the United States.
How to Find
The most recent printed topographic maps (for all scales) for North Carolina can be found in the Map Collection at Davis Library. Older versions of these maps as well as topographic maps for other regions (with an emphasis on the American Southeast) are usually available. It helps to know both the scale and name of the particular map you need. There is a map locator available from USGS to help with this process. The catalog provides information on which maps are contained in the collection.
This designation refers to topographic maps that were published in series by the U.S. government from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, often at a scale of 1:62,500. They can often be very useful for historical research.
How to Find Non-Current US Maps
These charts are listed in the catalog. Please contact a member of the Maps Collection staff if you require assistance.