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Maps & Atlases

Information and resources about the UBC map collection.

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The UBC Library Print Map Collection

The University of British Columbia Library's extensive collection includes maps, atlases, and gazetteers. The collection is focused first on Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, and British Columbia, as well as the rest of Canada. There are also numerous maps of countries around the world, and on diverse themes or topics including cultural, social, geological, demographic, historical, military, and nautical. In addition, you can find resources in the UBC Library on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), cartography, and the history of maps and map making.

Most of the UBC Library print map collection, as well as atlases and gazetteers, can be found on Level 2 of Walter C. Koerner Library. The print map sheets are located in labeled drawers and cabinets in call number sequence and are all available for browsing. Additional print maps are available at Rare Books and Special Collections

The Library also has a number of digitized map collections, as well as other online maps and resources.

How to Search for Maps in the UBC Library

There are several different ways to search for print maps, atlases, and other related material in UBC Library's collection.

  • Card Catalogues. Some of the maps in the collection are not in the UBC Library Online Catalogue. This part of the collection can be searched in the wooden card catalogues on Level 2 of Koerner Library, either by location (Area - Subject) or by subject (Subject - Area).
  • Microfiche. UBC Library's collection includes a limited number of maps on microfiche. They can be found in the microfiche area on Level 2 of Koerner Library. The collection features BC Town Plans, as well as a selection of historical maps of Ireland, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Poland spanning the 1860s to 1940s.
  • Browse the collection on Level 2 of Koerner Library. The maps are stored in labeled drawers of cabinets, with call numbers. Location descriptions for Canada and the world can be seen below. Library staff can assist in finding maps, atlases, and related resources on level 2 of Koerner library.
  • Reference Assistance: If you are having difficulty finding what you are looking for, or don't know where to start reference librarians are available to help. They are available by phone, email, and in person at each library branch
  • If you prefer to ask a question online then you can use the AskAway service provided by UBC library. Just look to your left and you can find the AskAway box and type in your question to get started.
  • On most UBC library webpages on the top tab bar there will be an orange "ASK US!" box. This box will provide you with quick access to UBC libraries assistance and links to a directory of reference librarians

Tips for searching for maps in the UBC Library Online Catalogue:

This is a condensed version of quick tips on searching the UBC catalogue. For a more detailed outline see here

  • Here is an example of a search in the UBC Library Online Catalogue:

Screenshot of Advanced Search of UBC Library Online Catalogue


Gazetteers are directories of geographical place names. They also often contain information on the area's population, statistics, physical, geographical features, and are useful when used in conjunction with maps. Knowing the proper names and details of a geographic location will often help your research go more smoothly.

To find gazetteers in UBC Library's collection, go to the UBC Library Online Catalogue and search using the name of the place (such as "Canada" or "Beijing") and the word gazetteer.

There are also a number of online gazetteers, some of which you can find listed in our External Map Resources section.

Air Photos

UBC has an extensive collection of over 2.5 million air photos of BC and the Yukon. The air photos are held by the Geographic Information Centre, which is located in the UBC Geography Department, external to UBC Library. Refer to the Air Photo Collection page for information on visiting the collection or ordering air photos.