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Maps: Map Collections

A guide to map resources and online maps

Collection Development Policy

General. The selection of additional maps and all atlases will be the responsibility of the Map Librarian in conjunction with other librarians and the teaching faculty. Acquisition of these maps will be the responsibility of the acquisitions office of the library. Maps sheets and sets from commercial publishers and foreign governments will be acquired to meet the specific needs of members of the university community. Most general state and national atlases will be acquired. Gazetteers from each state and nation will be purchased as they become available. Standard reference sources will be acquired to assist the user in using and understanding cartographic information. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to make recommendations for acquisitions.

Geographical Areas. Maps and atlases will be collected extensively for Michigan, the Great Lakes region, and the United States. Selection will be more selective for other states and foreign countries.

Plat Books. The library acquires plat books for Michigan counties every ten years with the exception of southwestern Michigan counties. Plat books for southwestern Michigan counties including Allegan, Barry, Van Buren, Calhoun, Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, and Branch are purchased every five years. Every edition of the Kalamazoo County plat book is acquired.

Retention. As space permits, all editions of most topographical sheets will be retained. In the case of aeronautical and nautical charts only the latest edition or editions at five year intervals will be retained depending on the series.

Map Collections

Except for the historical collection, all materials are kept in open stacks. While atlases and other books in the collection are accessible through WestCat most of the individual sheet maps are not. Staff can help you locate these "uncataloged" materials.

1:24,000 Scale. Sheets are divided by state and are arranged by sheet name within each state. An index giving sheet names is available in the first drawer for a state.

Soil Surveys. The map collection holds soil surveys for Michigan at Waldo Library. Other state's surveys are kept in storage. Many of these do not appear in WestCat. Some soil surveys are available in the Archives, while others are in bound volumes in the general stacks at Waldo Library.

United States Geological Survey (USGS) series are located in vertical files.

County Plat Books. Plat books show land ownership information for large tracts of land at a specific time. Modern plat maps for many Michigan counties are available at Waldo Library. Many older plat books are available in the Archives and Regional History Collections.

Gazetteers. Gazetteers provide the location coordinates, most often stated as latitude and longitude, for a locality. The most complete listing of international place names are in gazetteers issued by the US Board of Geographical Names (BGN) and are available in both bound and microform formats in the PCL Map Collection. Additional gazetteers are located in the Map Reference Collection and in Waldo Library's stacks. The eleven volume Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America is available at E 154 O45 1991 (Map) in the Map Collection. The Columbia Gazetteer of the World, a recent, three volume work, is available at G103.5 .C65x 1998 (Ref) in the Reference Department on the first floor of Waldo Library.

Circulation Policy

The maps, atlas and reference books in the collection are primarily intended to serve as reference tools for patrons of the University Libraries. Despite this, we will circulate some maps for a limited time period.

Maps in the collection of popular road maps circulate for two weeks. Staff in the Maps Office will check the map out to you rather than the circulation desk.

Maps from the drawers will be circulated to faculty for classroom purposes in cardboard tubes to protect them. Please do not fold maps from the map drawers, even if they seem to have been folded at one time. We are trying to preserve them; folding and refolding them will cause them to tear sooner.