Map Collection

The collection consists of over 65,000 sheets and concentrates on maps of the British Isles and Scotland in particular. It is arguably the best academic map collection in Scotland, supporting the teaching and research needs of the University but is also available for consultation by members of the general public.

Supplementing the sheet map series, the collection also holds over 400 topographic and thematic atlases, cartographic reference books and gazetteers. It has a particularly fine coverage of Glasgow and the west of Scotland, including many unique maps of the city and very extensive sets of the Scottish Ordnance Survey County Series at six-inch and twenty-five inch scales

Most of the maps and atlases in the University Library are located in the Map Collection on Level 7. Sheet maps are arranged in one geographical sequence, according to area covered, in special map cabinets, while the atlases are shelved in a separate section. The atlas collection covers both topographic and thematic (e.g. economic, transport, geology) subjects. Some older material is held in the Special Collections Department on Level 12 and a limited number of specialist maps are on the appropriate subject levels (e.g. maps of Roman Britain are in Archaeology on Level 8).

The Collection is particularly strong in its coverage of Scotland and has an extensive holding of contemporary national map series of European countries at scales varying between 1:50 000 and 1:200 000. There is also a large collection of British and US military mapping of many parts of the world dating from the Second World War.

All of the atlases and maps are recorded in the online catalogue. However, it is always best to seek advice from a member of staff in the Maps, Official Publications and Statistics Unit on Level 7 about the specific coverage of any area.

Please note: All maps and atlases are strictly for reference only.

Collection Arrangement

Maps are arranged by area and, within each area, the sequence is subdivided in the following order:

a) general maps or series of maps, covering the whole area
b) compass divisions, for maps covering a large part of the area
c) districts (i.e. administrative areas or significant topographic features) 
d) islands belonging to one particular country 
e) towns.

All the subdivisions, apart from towns, are arranged by scale, beginning with the most detailed. The catalogue groups all maps of part of a country under that country. If a suitable map of the desired area (e.g. Glasgow) cannot be found in the most specific part of the sequence (e.g. towns), try a slightly wider area of coverage (e.g. Lanarkshire or Western Scotland).

Maps in a series covering a whole country or region, such as the Ordnance Survey, are catalogued only as maps of that area and not individually. An index sheet to the series can be found with the sheets.

Please note: It is important to note that the series title may decide the location in the sequence. This is particularly true with older Ordnance Survey maps - the first edition six-inch maps of Scottish counties, the "County Series" are titled, for example, "Ordnance Survey of Renfrewshire" and are, therefore, to be found at that part of the sequence covering Renfrewshire whereas more modern mapping of Renfrewshire at 1:10 560 and 1:10 000 is part of the national survey - the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain - and is located under maps of Great Britain.

All but the more valuable or more fragile maps are on open access. Please ask Library staff for any map or atlas with 'Case' in its call number. The atlases and maps may be consulted in the Library but may not be borrowed. After using sheet maps please leave them out to be put away by the Library staff. Some less heavily used maps are stored in the Library Research Annexe. If you need to consult a map with the location given as the Library Research Annexe, please consult a member of staff at the enquiry desk on level 7.

Collection Development Policy

The Map Collection aims to support the University's stated teaching and research priorities. To this end it seeks:

  1. To acquire (within the constraints of availability and finance) as comprehensive a record as possible of maps of Scotland produced by Scottish and selected other map makers; and, in particular, of the Glasgow and West Central Scotland area.
  2. To acquire new maps, atlases and reference works relating to or depicting the United Kingdom, which are published in the United Kingdom.
  3. To collect map and atlas output from Scottish map producers of the past and present.
  4. To provide a reference collection of foreign-published topographic and thematic maps, atlases and reference works pertaining to cartography, again in support of the University's stated teaching and research priorities, with an emphasis on the products of the national mapping agency of the individual country at the following scales:
    • Europe: at scales of 1:50 000 to 1:200 000
    • Other parts of the world: 1:200 000 to 1:500 000.
    • World: 1:500 000 to 1:1 000 000.

For political and military reasons in particular, maps and charts may not be available for some parts of the world. Information about any specific cartographic requirements are welcomed.

British Geological Maps in the Library

Geological maps show the nature, extent and relative stratigraphical age of different rocks within a district. The Library stocks many geological maps of the British Isles. Current geological mapping of Britain is produced by the British Geological Survey and the key publications are

Regional Geochemical Atlas (Atlas Geology fMC50 REG)

These atlases are intended to provide a systematic picture of the geochemistry of the whole of Great Britain. For a list of the volumes produced to date, see Library Catalogue


Bedrock Geology of the United Kingdom (10 miles to the inch) (Maps C18 84) 
In two sheets, covering the north and south of the country


UTM (Universal Traverse Mercator) Series (Maps C18 65)
A series which shows the solid geography of both the UK landmass and Continental Shelf (North Sea, English Channel, Irish Sea and Western Approaches), and the Quaternary (Drift) and sea-bed sediments of the Continental Shelf. The sheets are indexed by latitude and longitude.


In the past, geological maps have been published in different editions, for example Solid, Drift, Solid and Drift, and Solid with Drift, although not all editions have been available for any one district. Since 2003, new maps and new editions of older maps have been described as Bedrock (replacing Solid), Superficial Deposits (replacing Drift) and the combined map as Bedrock & Superficial Deposits or, occasionally Superficial Deposits and Simplified Bedrock. The new versions are:

  • Bedrock maps (formerly Solid) show the Bedrock (pre-Quaternary) geology, as it would appear if the superficial deposits were removed.
  • Bedrock and Superficial Deposits maps show the "underfoot geology". Equal emphasis is given to the bedrock and superficial geology: comprehensive information on concealed bedrock formations is also shown.
  • Superficial Deposits and Simplified Bedrock. For maps sheets areas containing complex superficial deposits overlying complex bedrock, a map classification of Superficial Deposits and Simplified Bedrock may apply. On these maps, the bedrock is shown simplified to Group or Sub-group level (i.e. individual geological formations are not generally shown). This is to allow clarity, maximum understanding and interpretation of the Superficial Deposits. Maps in this classification thus show bedrock classified to a greater degree than shown on Bedrock and Superficial Deposits maps.
  • Superficial Deposits maps (formerly Solid and Drift) show the bedrock and superficial deposits with equal emphasis. These maps give the best picture of the underfoot geology.

Scotland (Maps C18 29) 
The 1:50,000 geological maps for Scotland are indexed and stored separately from those of England and Wales. Use the index attached to the map folder to find the number of the sheet you want. Note that many of the Scottish sheets have been further divided into East and West sheets.

England and Wales (Maps C16 28) 
Use the index attached to the map folder to find the number of the sheet you want.

Northern Ireland (Maps C20 23) 
The survey sheets for Northern Ireland are also held. Use the index to find the number of the sheet you want.

These series are by no means complete yet (check BGS website for information), and it may be necessary to use the previous edition, produced at a scale of 1:63,360, if the area you want is not available at 1:50,000.

Ordnance Survey maps in the Library

The Library has an extensive collection of Ordnance Survey maps. Current national coverage of Great Britain is based on two regularly updated scale series

1:50,000 (2cm to 1km or 1.25 inches to 1 mile)

Landranger series: (Maps C16 22)

An all-purpose map which covers the whole of mainland Britain. This series is arranged in the map drawers by sheet number; consult the graphic index to find the number of the sheet required (the Library holds First and Second Edition).

1:25,000 (4cm to 1km or 2.5 inches to 1 mile)

Outdoor Leisure maps: (Maps C16 13) 
These maps cover Britain's National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Forest Parks, and Scenic areas. Sheets are in a double-sided format but the numbering has no clear logic to the sequence. Consult the graphic index to find the sheet required.

Explorer Series: (Maps C16 14) 
The whole of Great Britain is now covered at this scale by the Explorer map series. Explorer maps cover the parts of Great Britain not already covered by Outdoor Leisure maps. Many are in a double-sided format.

Other up-to-date Ordnance Survey mapping is available via the EDINA Digimap Service and provides coverage at a range of scales from 1:1250 (for urban areas) to 1:10 000 (for upland areas) in selected areas and at 1:250 000 as a full national coverage.

Northern Ireland 1:50,000 (2cm to 1km or 1.25 inches to 1 mile) 
Ordnance Survey mapping for Northern Ireland is carried out by the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland. The Map Collection holds the current editions of the 18 sheets covering Northern Ireland as part of the Discovery Series which covers the whole of Ireland (Maps C19 22).

Historical Ordnance Survey Map Series

Large scale Ordnance Survey mapping was begun in the mid-nineteenth century and until the Second World War, individual counties were surveyed separately. Each county had its own sheet numbering and revision was done by county.

The County Series: This series covers the whole of the British Isles and was published at two separate scales (1:2500 for urban and cultivated areas and 1:10560 for mountain and moorland areas). The Map Collection has a comprehensive coverage of the mainland counties of Scotland at the scale of 1:10560 in either its first or second editions, sheets for most of the island groups and a very extensive collection of sheets from the later editions of the 1:2500 series (Maps C18:10 to Maps C18:43). The sheets are arranged by county following the general maps of Scotland, each county having a separate index sheet with holdings marked. These sheets must be requested from Library staff as many of the 1:2500 sheets are stored in the Library Research Annexe.

Ordnance Survey Town Plans: These were published for larger towns (over 4000 population) at scales of 1:500 and 1:1056 from about 1850 onwards. They were the largest scale plans published by the Ordnance Survey and most were not published after 1900. They are invaluable in the detailed study of urban areas. The Map Collection has a number of plans covering certain Scottish towns (Case Maps C18:45). These must be requested from Library staff. All Scottish town plans are available on-line from the National Library Library of Scotland web site.

First Edition One Inch Maps, England and Wales; "Old Series": The Collection has a complete holding of the ninety sheets of this first edition of the one inch map for England and Wales (Case Maps C17 22). These must be requested from Library staff.

First Edition One Inch Maps, Scotland: An almost complete set of the first edition maps of Scotland is held (Case Maps C18 21) and these must be requested from Library staff.

Facsimile Reproductions: Several companies have made reproductions of various Ordnance Survey Maps. The Collection has a complete set of the David and Charles reproduction of the first edition One Inch Series for England and Wales, published in 1969-71 (Maps C17 21); a complete set of the second edition of the One Inch Series covering Scotland (1896-97), published by Caledonian Books in 1987 (Maps C18 21) and selected other maps.

Remember that the largest scale maps cover the smallest area, so the more detail you require, the more sheets you will need.

If you have any questions, please contact the Maps, Official Publications and Statistics Unit