Maps, Geography, Cartography, Glossaries, and Gazetteers
Maps and Cartography
Gazetteers and Geographical Name Authorities
Map Cataloging

Maps and Cartography

  • Using Maps For Teaching and Research . From a presentation on using maps and geographical data for teaching and research. A variety of concepts are covered here. This is a good place to start for many map needs.
  • Geography & Map Resources. (University Libraries, University at Buffalo).
  • Maps of Europe from 1500+. Short list of maps; mostly historical periods.
  • United Nations Cartographic Section. Maps of countries, regions, etc. (in PDF format).
  • WORLDTIME® Featuring an interactive world atlas (shows daytime/nighttime graphically), information on local time as well as sunrise and sunset times in several hundred cities, and a database of public holidays worldwide.
  • Latitude. Rice University site offers the basic history of the development of latitude.
  • David's Map Links. Maps, geographic resources, other. An unsorted bookmark list.
  • North East Map Organization. (NEMO) is a group dedicated to serving as a unifying body for all who use, produce, collect, and market maps and cartographic information in the Northeast. Includes map librarians, map catalogers, cartographers, geographers, and others.

Gazetteers and Geographical Name Authorities List *
Gazetteers are dictionaries or databases of place names, features, and locations. Some gazetteers include data on: demography; physical geography; political boundaries; industry, trade, and service activities; agriculture; cultural, historical, and archeological points of interest; transportation lines; longitude, latitude, and elevations; distance to relevant places; pronunciations; official local government place-names and changed or variant names and spellings.

These tools are useful to research in any field, as knowledge of names, name history, and variant names for places is essential to identifying and understanding a name. The primary sources below are governmental or other authoritative collections of place names as agreed upon by international standards. The secondary sources may also be official government sources, however these should be used if the primary sources fail to locate a name or name variant. There are also other authoritative sources for many countries. Another use of the secondary sources is to go to more focused dictionaries (e.g., for a specific country), as this sometimes provides more data on the name.

Geographical Names (Primary Sources)

U.S. Names

gold spinner imageGeographic Names Information System (GNIS). More than 2,261,199 features included.

GNIS Data Sets Available Via FTP. State and topical gazetteer download files.

NYS Gazetteer and GeoData Collection. Searchable database of places, providing names, feature types, grid coordinates and other geographic information. There are over 38,000 NYS geographic features available, all searchable by name, county, or USGS map quadrangle. Data from USGS 7.5 Minute Series Topographic Maps for New York State. Data from the GNIS, but for New York State only (plus links to Digital Raster Graphics (DRG's).

World Names

  • gold spinner imageNGA GEOnet Names Server (GNS) (NGA formerly NIMA) [Excluding U.S.] Over 9,316,122 feature names, plus access to more than 4,800 undersea features. From the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (US BGN). NGA also has additional data and links that are useful for cataloging, as well as for geographers trying to keep up with the changing political world. To use, scroll down to bottom of page, click on Access GEOnet button. Search page.
  • Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online (subscription only). Electronic database of place names, features, and variant names. Includes data on each name; also has names of mythical places.

Canada Names

Geographical Names (Secondary Sources)

Other Authoritative Sources

United States

Canadian Provinces and Territories

Other Countries and Places

  • Gazetteers list. An international listing of other sources (from Oddens' Bookmarks).
  • Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names. Similar to GNIS and GEOnet; has hierarchical system.Can search the entire world. Has 900,000 names, including historical and vernacular forms of names. Provides notes and references, and provides feature type description.
  • Maplandia. World gazetteer based on Google Maps; includes more than two-million place names.
  • United Nations Cartographic Section. Besides current maps of various world nations, there is a list of official names of member nations, capitals (with alternate forms), and other geographic names.



Australian States


New Zealand


Ireland Placenames Database.


National Gazetteer (National Atlas of Sweden). Enter a place name and the map displays its location along with data/coordinates.

United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales )

  • Dictionary of British Place-Names (Oxford University). Online edition of the reference book of the same name (0198527586) with over 14,400 entries. (subscription only).
  • Ordnance Survey - Gazetteer of Place Names. Provides data on United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales only). A placename search returns: name, county, OS grid no., Landranger [map series] sheet no. (Ordnance Survey home page).
    • 1:50 000 Scale Gazetteer contains entries for airports, farms, hills, woodlands, commons and other places, including over 42 000 towns and settlements with coordinates to 1 km resolution.
    • Get-A-Map™ free improved mapping service from Ordnance Survey. Search for maps anywhere in the UK simply by entering the place name, full postcode or National Grid reference – and print the maps or copy them for use on your personal or business web site. 1:25,000 is largest scale.
    • Multimap. Click on map (worldwide) and zoom in to that region.
  • Gazetteer for Scotland.
  • National Gazetteer of Wales.


  • Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. (USGS). International Astronomical Union names for planetary objects (including places on those objects). This is also a great place to locate more obscure Earth names. Included are coordinates and location of each feature, PLUS it gives the origin of the name.

Additional Name and Heading Lists


Map Cataloging Tools

  • Map Cataloger's Tool Box (David Bertuca, University at Buffalo).Starting place for map catalogers. All sorts of great stuff.
  • Map Librarian's Toolbox (Western Association of Map Libraries). Great site.
  • Map Cataloging. (Terry Reese, librarian, Oregon State University). Many nice features and accessories for map catalogers, as well as links to more tool sites.
  • Map Cataloging Links. (Sharon Saunders, Bates Univ. Lib.) Good sources. She also lists many good cataloging and format specific cataloging links.
  • Map Cataloging Manual (Library of Congress). Not the complete work but it will help with many rule interpretations.
  • List of LC subdivisions for maps. When formulating LCSH for maps, these are the most common subdivisions that are used.
  • MAGERT Electronic Publications (Map and Geography Roundtable of the American Library Association) electronic publications for map catalogers.
  • Cataloging Resources. All sorts of links for cataloging any format (my quick ref sheet, but take a look).
  • MapWorks Map Toolbox. (MathWorks). This section of their website features map basics (i.e., What is a Map?). The site is mainly for their mapping software, but there is some helpful data here on general map concepts.
  • Outline Maps. Do you need a map to build a call number index? Or maybe a map you can use to chart the items you have collected? Try these sites.
  • RDA (Resource Description and Access). Starter page to resources and articles.

Glossaries of Geographic Terms


David J. Bertuca, Map Librarian, Arts & Sciences Libraries, University at Buffalo.
Created 13 August 2002. Comments are welcome.
The materials selected above do not necessarily reflect the policies and procedures of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Last Modified: 4 March 2014
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