About this Reading Room
The Geography and Map Division (G&M) of the Library of Congress provides cartographic and geographic information for all parts of the world: to Congress, federal agencies, state and local governments, the scholarly community, and the general public. Experienced staff of reference librarians, senior specialists, and technicians link researchers to the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world. The G&M staff provide onsite reference and scanning services in the map and atlas reading room, support geospatial inquiries from Congress, and provide online answers to offsite reference questions.
Maps and atlases were among the first items acquired when the Library of Congress was established in 1800. It was not until 1897, however, when the Library of Congress moved into its own building, that a separate Hall of Maps and Charts was created to house the growing collection at that time of 47,000 maps and 1,200 atlases. The division now occupies an area of 90,000 square feet designed and constructed to accommodate a variety of cartographic collections in the Library's James Madison Memorial Building. Today a significant percentage of cartographic materials are received from official government sources, and private and commercial published in the United States are acquired through Copyright or through purchase. Rare and valuable maps and atlases in the collections have been also donated to the division by generous and public-minded citizens.