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Map Library Collections

Maps –

Yes, we have maps! We hold maps from the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Some of our historic maps have been scanned and are available online. Among other categories, we hold domestic and international topographic maps , Sanborn Fire Insurance maps , and plat maps . We can even tell you how to cite them in a bibliography! Maps are housed in map cabinets and vertical files. Please ask a library staff member for assistance in locating and retrieving maps. Please note that not all of our maps appear in the online catalog. If you are not finding enough information, please speak to a library staff member.We may be able to help you find more resources that haven’t been cataloged yet.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps – Sanborn maps were made to assist insurance underwriters in determining fire insurance rates for individual buildings by examining the buildings’ construction methods, heat and lighting sources,manufacturing uses, and the same attributes of nearby buildings. The maps primarily provide information on the downtown areas of cities and adjoining residential areas. They are especially useful in providing a record of urban development from the 1880s through the first half of the twentieth century. Family historians other genealogical researchers may also find them useful for verifying addresses of homes and family businesses. The University of Illinois has Sanborn fire insurance maps for cities and towns in Illinois and can help identify libraries that have fire insurance maps for cities and towns elsewhere in the United States.






Topographic Maps – The Map Library offers topographic coverage of all states by the United States Geology Survey . All editions received for maps of Illinois are in the Map Library. Only the most recent print edition for states other than Illinois is in the Map Library. Superseded editions of topographic maps for non-Illinois states are housed at the Oak Street Library Facility. Topographic maps provide information on topography, transportation, relief (differences in elevation), drainage systems, and other physical and cultural features.

The Map Library also has a comprehensive topographic coverage of other regions and nations of the world. Generally, coverage available for immediate consultation in the Map Library will be at the scale of 1:250,000. Topographic maps that are housed at the Oak Street Library Facility  can easily be requested on your behalf by Map Library staff.





Illinois County Plat Maps – Plat books are atlases that show land ownership for rural areas, usually featuring one township per page. The Map Library houses the most recent edition acquired for Illinois counties. Older editions are shelved in Main Stacks . Nineteenth-century plat books, often called “county histories,” are available at the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections Library .

A substantial portion of the map collection, including both US and non-US topographic maps, is stored at the Oak Street Library Facility . Please speak with a member of the Map Library staff for assistance in requesting maps from the Oak Street Library Facility. Map requested from Oak Street will be delivered to the Map Library. Maps requested from the Oak Street facility do not circulate. They are for in-room use only in the Map Library. Please allow at least two extra days for delivery.


Aerial Photographs –

The Map Library maintains a comprehensive collection of aerial photographs for all Illinois counties , ranging in date from the late 1930s to 2005. Finding photos taken from the late 1930s to the early 1980s for an area in Illinois requires consulting photo-mosaic indices for the relevant county and years. The process of finding aerial photos for a pre-determined area is somewhat easier after 1988 because a single index can be used for all years. Aerial photograph users are responsible for using indices to identify the photographs that they need to examine and completing a photograph request form . Indexes to aerial photography for sets flown prior to 1988 are available online through the University Library’s Digital Library collection of Aerial Photograph Index Maps.

Books –and Journals

Our collection of print books and journals may be freely accessed by patrons. Books are organized according to the Library of Congress classification system and appear in the University of Illinois online catalog . Our collection includes gazetteers, atlases, journals, Illinois county plat books, and works on cartography, the history of cartography, geographic information systems (GIS), and remote sensing . Gazetteers and print journals are shelved separately from the other books. Gazetteers, reference works, and folios (oversized books marked with an F) do not circulate. Many atlases are housed at the Oak Street Library Facility . The Oak Street Library Facility is not open to the public, but items shelved there can be requested via the online catalog and delivered to the Map Library for access. Please allow at least two extra days for delivery.

The University of Illinois Library holds numerous  journals on the subjects of cartography, remote sensing , GIS, the history of cartography, and map librarianship. Many of these journals are available full-text online and can be accessed through the Library’s Online Journals & Databases webpage. If accessing journals from off campus, you may need to identify yourself as an University of Illinois affiliated user.

Remember to properly cite our resources if you reference them in your writing!

In addition to our print and database items, we also offer a list of additional web resources that users may find helpful.These resources are not produced or maintained by the Map Library, and we are not responsible for their content.