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Atlas and Map Collection

This guide contains a general description of geospatial resources available in Atlas and Map Collection and in other collections in the Library, along with guidance in how to best search for geospatial resources in these collections. Geospatial Resources (Maps, GIS, Imagery) is a complementary research guide that selectively lists Internet and print resources by broad subject category, e.g. soil maps; or by geographic area, e.g. California.


The Atlas and Map Collection is located in the southwest corner of the first floor of the HSU Library at approximately 40° 52' 36"N, 124° 04' 49"W (WGS84/NAD83); UTM 10 408976E 4525630N (WGS84/NAD83); and in the SW 1/4 of the NW 1/4, Section 28, T6N, R1E of the Humboldt Meridian.


The Atlas Collection contains approximately 650 world, regional, national, state, and thematic (subject) atlases. The following approaches can be used to find specific atlases:

  1. Browse the atlas shelves using the Library of Congress Classification System which arranges atlases geographically by continent. Use the Browsing Guide to Atlas and Map Call Numbers as a guide.

    Atlases are shelved in two separate areas depending upon their physical format--smaller atlases are shelved upright and larger atlases are shelved flat. Since the classification sequence is repeated twice you should browse in both areas.

  2. Search the HSU Library Catalog to find specific atlases.
    • To find general atlases with world coverage--search using Atlases as a subject (General world atlases published outside the United States are listed under Atlases subdivided by the country of publication, e.g., Atlases, Russian.)
    • To find atlases covering a specific geographic area or subject--on the Advanced Search screen choose the "Location" Atlas and then do a keyword search using as keywords the geographic area, or subject in which you are interested.

The Atlas Collection is a noncirculating reference collection. A few circulating atlases are located in the regular bookstacks on the second floor in the G 1000-G 3100 classification.


The map collection complements the atlas collection by providing larger scale (more detailed) general, topographic, and thematic maps. While the collection concentrates on the western U.S. and California in particular, it also includes maps covering the United States in some detail and the world in less detail. The collection consists of the following subdivisions:

Large-Scale Topographic Maps - See Topographic Maps for a description of available print maps, software programs and Internet accessible topographic maps.

Road Maps and City Plans - See Road and Travel Maps for a description of available print and web maps.

Cataloged Thematic, Intermediate-Scale and Small-Scale Maps - Includes approximately 2,000 titles, some of which are composed of multiple map sheets. The following approaches can be used to find these maps:

In looking for maps of a specific geographic area use the following search principles:

Following are some of the major map series in the Map Collection. Other series are listed in the Geospatial Resources guide. Consult the indexes to each series for available maps.

Raised Relief Maps - 1:250,000 scale plastic raised relief maps for California are filed in drawers before California topographic maps.


Humboldt County Collection. In this specialized collection are historical, topographic, and thematic maps of northwestern California. See Humboldt Room Map Collections for a description of major map collections as well as a searchable database. Maps of northwestern California which are part of a larger series., e.g., Soil-Vegetation Maps, are located in the main map collection. See also Northwestern California Maps for a selected list of print and Internet maps.

Documents Collection. Many federal government agencies produce maps. As a federal depository the HSU Library receives many of these maps with some of the prominent series being:

  • U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (Docs PrEx 3.10/4 - kept in filing cabinet outside L307) - general maps of foreign countries
  • U.S. Geological Survey (Docs I 19) - specialized geologic and hydrologic maps; see Geologic Maps for more information on available series and indexes.
  • U.S. Bureau of the Census (Docs C 3.62) - demographic maps
  • U.S. Forest Service (Docs A 13.13 & A 13.28) - national forest maps
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management (Docs I 53.11) - public land maps
  • U.S. National Park Service (Docs I 29.6, I 29.8, I 29.21) - national park and monument maps
  • U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (Docs A 57.38) - soil maps
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Docs I 49.44/2 & I 49.6/7) - national wildlife refuge and national wetlands inventory maps

The U.S. Government Publications Monthly Catalog indexes over 57,000 federal maps published from 1976 to the present. To search for maps choose the "Maps" format in the "Limit Search by: Format" option and then enter your geographic and/or subject keywords.

Books and Periodicals. Many books and periodical articles contain maps. To find these maps you can:

  • Do a keyword search search in the HSU Library Catalog using the word map and a subject or geographic keyword, e.g. map Bosnia. (Books that have maps in them have a searchable "map" keyword in the "Description" field of the catalog record.)
  • Use the Index to Maps in Books and Periodicals (American Geographical Society) (ref G 1 A5) This is a subject and geographic index to over 200,000 maps published in books and periodicals from the 1800s to 1986. For maps published in books and periodicals from 1985 to 2005 see GeoBib: Online Geographical Bibliography. Search using the keyword "map" combined with a subject or geographical keyword.
  • See the List of Geographical Atlases in the Library of Congress (Phillips & LeGear) 1969-1974 (9 volumes) (Docs LC 5.2:629) Lists 18,435 geographical atlases in the Library of Congress. Includes detailed indexes to individual plates and a cumulative author index.
  • Search the WorldCat database which contains over 3 million records for maps and atlases. Limit the format to "map" and do a keyword search by subject and/or geographic area.


Aerial photographs of northwestern California are located in the Humboldt Room. Available flights range in date from 1941 to 1983 at scales from 1:12,000 to 1:24,000. See Northwestern California Aerial Photography & Imagery for additional information on locally available aerial photography.

For information on aerial photography and remote sensing resources in general see the "Imagery and Remote Sensing" section of the Geospatial Resources research guide.