The map collection serves the needs of faculty and students from many faculties and departments, campus wide. Regular users include faculty and students from the departments of geography, geological sciences, and history, the School of Community and Regional Planning, and from departments within the Faculties of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry.

Current areas of collecting

The map librarian selects material to support curriculum and research requirements for human geography (economic, land use, environmental, political, cultural, social, historical, urban and regional, resource studies); physical geography (climatology, soils, hydrology, vegetation); cartography; area studies, including Third World issues; linguistics; history; geological sciences (bedrock, surficial and economic geology); forestry; oceanography; navigation; travel and tourism; astronomy. Special emphasis is on the regional geography of Canada, particularly British Columbia; Pacific coast states of the United States; the Pacific Rim, particularly Japan, China and Southeast Asia; Latin America; cities, world-wide.


The map collection includes maps, charts and atlases.

More specifically, the map collection includes:


  • General maps: Small scale maps of the world, continents, countries, regions, to keep up to date on boundary and place name changes.
  • Topographic maps: Medium scale (1:200,000 or 1:250,000) coverage, world wide. Large scale coverage (1:50,000 or larger) for geographic regions within our special emphasis category. All Canadian topographic maps produced by Natural Resources Canada (14,000 maps) are received on deposit. Some United States topographic maps are received on deposit.
  • Thematic maps: Small scale maps of the world, continents, countries and regions, depicting themes such as physical features, soils, climate, vegetation, geology land use, population density and distribution, economic conditions, transportation, communications, and historical events.
  • City maps: Maps of all foreign cities of 1,000,000 population or more, and/or capital and leading economic cities; Canadian cities of 10,000 population or more; British Columbia communities of 500 population or more.
  • Historical maps: Facsimiles of Canadian historical maps; historical city maps, world-wide. Original historical maps are held by Special Collections Division.
  • Extra-terrestrial maps: General astronomical maps and charts; geological maps of planets within our solar system.
  • Outline maps: Small base maps suitable for photocopying, world-wide.
  • Nautical charts: All Canadian hydrographic and bathymetric charts (received on deposit); U.S. Pacific Coast, including Alaska; small-scale general charts, world wide.
  • Aeronautical charts: Small scale coverage, world wide.


  • General world atlases: Up-to-date general world atlases, as available.
  • Thematic atlases: Acquisitions decisions are based on known curriculum and research interests of the University, and the Special Emphasis regions described earlier.
  • National atlases: All official national atlases, as available. These works generally provide the most comprehensive official geographic information for any country.
  • Provincial and state atlases: All Canadian and U.S. atlases, as available.
  • Historical atlases: Atlases of historical events and boundaries; facsimiles of early atlases for Canada as a whole.


All languages, as maps and atlases are produced in the national language(s) of the countries in which they are published. The graphic method of presentation employed in cartographic materials reduces the difficulties associated with interpretation of foreign language materials in other bibliographic formats. Wherever possible, however, materials are acquired in English for those geographic areas using non-Roman alphabets.

Geographic origin

Per the source country, for government-produced materials. For materials produced by private publishers, North American and British provenance is preferred.


Material on Africa, the Middle East, and the Eastern United States are more selectively acquired.

Collections in other UBC Libraries/ Areas of overlap

Rare Books and Special Collections: Pre-1900 maps of British Columbia, North America and Japan, and pre-1800 maps for selected other parts of the world, as well as fire insurance plans for B.C. communities, including Vancouver.