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Map Catalogers' Tool Box

The materials below are not comprehensive, but merely to be used in assisting the basics of map cataloging.

Sample Map Catalog Record Gazetteers
Physical Description  
Additional Links
Cartographic Reference Resources
Map Projections
Outline Maps blank maps for any use
Map Series (Titles)
  RDA (Resource Description and Access)

Map Cataloging: General Resources (including toolboxes)

Good Starting Points

Map and Cartography Resources

  • Maps and Cartography Research Guide (University at Buffalo Libraries). Links to a wide variety of map-related topics, resources, collections, etc.
  • Cartographic Reference Resources (Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, Univ. of Texas/Austin). Has many links to resources: Gazetteers, Distance Calculators, Time, Zones, Sun, And, Moon, Rise/Set, Calculators, Tides, Map, Projections, Map, Scale, Glossaries, and, Guides.
  • MCG Toolbox 6: Equipment and Supplies. Online source of information and help for map curators, librarians and archivists, sponsored by the Map Curators' Group of the British Cartographic Society.

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Physical Description

General Information about USGS Topographic Maps

Classification (Call Numbers)


Map Projections

Map Scale

Map scale, or Representative Fraction (RF), is a ratio representing the relationship between a specified distance on a map and the actual distance on the ground. For example, at the scale of 1:50 000, 1 unit of measurement on the map equals 50 000 units of the same measurement on the ground. Map scale is frequently expressed as a representative fraction and graphically as a bar scale.

Map Coordinates

  • Latitude. A site at Rice University that offers the basic history of the development of latitude
  • Coordinate Systems Overview (University of Colorado, Boulder, Department of Geography). Covers all sorts of systems; good for identifying and describing a map in hand.

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Map Series (Titles)

  • Index Maps for AMS Series / U.S. Army Map Service and GSGS / Great Britain. War Office. General Staff. Geographical Section. (UC Berkeley).

Mathematical Data

Subject Headings


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Sample Maps

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Associations That Include Map Catalogers and Map Librarians

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Metasites for Maps and Map Collections

  • Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection (University of Texas at Austin). Has digitized a portion of its print collection (over 3,000) of historic and contemporary maps. Many of the maps are U.S. government originals, which may be downloaded and used without copyright restrictions. Also has links to good web sites for maps worldwide. Main map arrangement is by continent, further broken down into regional and city maps, among other categories. Also at this website are Cartographic Reference Resources.
  • Using Maps in your Teaching. How to use maps for teaching and research, where to find maps online and from publishers, and almost anything you want to know about maps and map making, as well as on geography. Has extensive links to maps and charts of all sorts.
  • USGS Maps and Aerial Photo Images Online. Compilation of links to selected USGS Business and Cooperative Research and Development Agreement partner sites where you may view USGS maps and aerial photo images from your Web browser. Also see the USGS National Map of the United States, and geography site.

Map Sellers

  • USGS Products and Publications page. Any maps, books, and related materials from the U.S. Government. Also has links to pages describing maps, how to read maps, etc. USGS Topographic Maps page.
    • Topos may be downloaded at no charge on the USGS Topographic Maps download site. You will have to print these yourself..
  • Omni Resources Map Catalog. Complete selection of maps from government and commercial sources. Also links to many cartographic and geographic information sites.

Select Bibliography

Allen, David Y. Metadata Primer for Map Librarians (MAGIRT). Discusses what metadata is, how it is obtained, and how it represents data from a map. (MAGIRT Electronic Publications Series, no. 3.).

Andrew, Paige G. Cataloging Sheet Maps: the Basics. New York: Haworth, 2003.

Andrew, Paige G.; Larsgaard, Mary Lynette. Maps And Related Cartographic Materials: Cataloging, Classification, And Bibliographic Control. New York: Haworth Information Press, 1999. Also issued as: Cataloging & classification quarterly; v. 27, no. 1/2-3/4.

Andrew, Paige G.; Moore, Susan M.; Larsgaard, Mary Lynette. RDA and Cartographic Resources. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2015. ISBN 9780838911310. Map cataloging with RDA. This is an essential tool for map cataloging. (Amazon link).

Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules / prepared under the direction of the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR, a committee of the American Library Association ... [et al.]. Latest edition: 2002. "Chapter 1. General Rules for Description;" "Chapter 3. Cartographic Materials."

Clark, Suzanne M. Cartographic Citations: a Style Guide. Chicago: Map and Geography Round Table, American Library Association, 1992. (MAGIRT circular; no. 1).

Directory Of Web Resources For The Rare Materials Cataloger. Rare Books and Manuscripts Section, Association of College and Research Libraries. Not for maps specifically; has links to code tables and other cataloging aids.

Guidelines for Distinguishing Cartographic Electronic Resources from other Electronic Resources (Jan 1998; Rev Dec 2001). Developed by the Library of Congress to assist catalogers working with cartographic electronic resources to distinguish them from other types of electronic resources and to ensure consistent selection of the correct MARC Type of Record code based on that distinction.

Journal of Map & Geography Libraries: Advances in Geospatial Information, Collections & Archives (2004-  ). Co-edited by, the late Mary Lynette Larsgaard, MA, and Paige G. Andrew. Journal that includes map cataloging along with other articles and tools for map librarians.

Karrow, Robert W. Manual For the Cataloguing of Antiquarian Cartographic Materials. Chicago : Newberry Library, 2000 1977.

Larsgaard, Mary Lynette. "Cataloguing Planetospatial Data in Digital Form: Old Wine, New Bottles - New Wine, Old Bottles", pp.17-30 in: Smith and Gluck (eds.), Geographic Information Systems and Libraries: Patrons, Maps, and Spatial Information. (Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1996). For digital maps.

Larsgaard, Mary Lynette. Map Librarianship: an Introduction. 3rd ed. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1998. Z692.M3 L37 1998. (see 2nd ed. cover).

Library of Congress. Cataloging Division. Cataloging Service Bulletin, 1978- (quarterly). (cover)

Library of Congress. Cataloging Division. Library of Congress Rule Interpretations. 2nd Ed., 1989.

Library of Congress. Geography and Map Division. Map Cataloging Manual. Washington, D.C.: Cataloging Distribution Service, Library of Congress, 1991. Z695.6 .L52 1991. The most complete listing for map cataloging in the MARC format. Has field-by-field listings with interpretations and many examples. Also available to subscribers on the Cataloger's Desktop. There is a website that provides key materials from the Map Cataloging Manual.

Library of Congress. Subject Cataloging Division. Class G, Geography, Maps, Anthropology, Recreation: Library of Congress Classification Schedules : A Cumulation of Additions and Changes Through 1991. Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Inc., 1992.

Map Cataloging Bibliography: Selectively Annotated. edited by Glenda Jo Fox Hughes and Constance Demetracopoulos. Washington: Special Libraries Association, Geography and Map Division, 1997.

Map, GIS and Cataloging /Metadata Librarian Core Competencies MAGERT Education Committee and subcommittees on GIS Librarian Core Competencies, Map Librarian Core Competencies, Cataloging and Metadata Core Competencies, 2008.

Moore, Barbara N. A Manual of AACR2 Examples For Cartographic Materials. edited by Edward Swanson and Marilyn H. McClaskey. Lake Crystal, Minn.: Soldier Creek Press: Published for the Minnesota AACR2 Trainers, 1981. Z695.6 .M6.

Moulder, Cathy. "GIS and Libraries: Issues and Implications" Bulletin (Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives) 94 (Fall 1995):11-14.

OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards. Field guide and help pages for cataloging in MARC.

Shular, Michele. Guide to the Cartographic Products of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), 2006 (MAGIRT Electronic Publications Series, no. 6.).

Additional reference materials are found at the WAML website.

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David J. Bertuca, Map Librarian, Emeritus, University at Buffalo
Created by 26 October 1999

Last Modified: 24 June 2019
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Back to: Cataloging Resources

The materials selected above do not necessarily reflect the policies and procedures of the State University of New York at Buffalo.