The Geography & Map Division Reading Room provides public
access to the collections and services of the Geography & Map
Division (G&M) and is open to patrons conducting research utilizing
the Division's collections. The Geography and Map Division has custody
of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in
the world with collections numbering over 4.6 million maps, 63,000
atlases, 6,000 reference works, numerous globes and plastic relief
models, and a large number of cartographic material in other formats,
including electronic. These unparalleled cartographic materials
date from 14th century portolan charts through recent geographic
information systems data sets.
Service in the Geography & Map Division Reading
Full use of the collections can only be made with the help of
Division staff who provide assistance in understanding the Division's
many different cataloging/filing systems and who oversee the safe
use of the wide variety of materials served.
- Two reference librarians are on duty in the Reading Room to
- For best service, patrons are urged to use the Reading Room
during times which are normally least busy - the early hours of
the day (8:30-10:30), the months of January, February, November,
and December, and early in the week.
- Patrons are urged to bring with them as much specific information
as they possess regarding the information they seek, including
photocopies of official records containing placenames, photocopies
of the image they seek to identify or reproduce, information regarding
the item they are inquiring about, etc.
- Patrons must obtain a Library of Congress Reader
Identification Card before using the G&M Reading Room.
To obtain a card patrons must submit proof of identity and address.
Cards may be obtained in Room LM 140 of the Madison Building near
the front entrance of the building.
- In general, children are not allowed to conduct research or
accompany adults as they conduct research in the Division.
- Patrons may not bring belongings other than paper, pencils,
and research notes into the Reading Room. Free lockers are provided
in the Reading Room for securing personal belongings.
- Patrons must agree to follow special rules for the safe handling
of cartographic materials.
Service from a Distance
- There is no comprehensive published or online catalog for the
more than 4.6 million holdings of the Geography and Map Division.
However, since 1969 current acquisitions and other selected categories
of cartographic materials have been cataloged and are available
for searching through the Library's Online
Catalog. See Tips for Searching Cartographic
Materials for assistance in using the online catalog.
- The Division will respond to inquries made via mail, email,
and FAX. We, however, cannot conduct lengthy searches, make editorial
selections for illustrations, produce long lists of descriptions,
or undertake extensive research projects. Phone calls requiring
simple answers are also responded to, but time does not permit
handling more in-depth research for phone calls and patrons are
asked to mail, email or FAX us with lengthier questions. The normal
response time for these questions is four weeks.
- The Division is participating in a new Ask-A-Librarian
service, which provides an online form for sending inquries about
our collections and services to the reference staff.
Credits and Permissions
- Copies of most cartographic materials may be made provided the material is not fragile, too large, or a rare item. The Geography and Map has available in its Reading Room two standard-size color copiers for use by researchers. Credit cards or copy cards purchased with cash are accepted as payment. Copy cards are available for purchase in three locations in the Madison Building: The Law Library (LM 201), the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room (LM 133), and the lobby of the Madison Building. See the Library’s Copying and Printing Services page for more details.
- Oversize copies are also available in the Reading Room. These photocopies are made by the staff and are limited to 10 copies per day when time permits.
- Better quality reproductions can be ordered through the Library's Duplication Services when a detailed description and call number can be provided. For assistance in obtaining the description and call number please send your request to Ask-A-Librarian.
- Simple hand-held camera copying is allowed as an alternative to xeroxing. Exceptions are made for qualifying film makers or publishers.
- Digitized images appearing in Online Map Collections can be downloaded at public reading room workstations. Cartographic images are large files and often require the use of a thumb drive storage device.
- Scanning equipment is not allowed.
- The Library does not grant nor deny permission concerning
the use of cartographic images. While many maps fall within
domain (generally, material published before 1923), large numbers
of maps, particularily recent acquisitions, are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced
by the Library.
- Non-copyrighted cartographic materials reproduced from G&M
collections may be used without permission of the Division.
- When material reproduced from G&M collections is used in
a publication, the Division requests a credit line stating that
this material was reproduced from an original in the collections
of the Geography & Map Division, Library of Congress. If known
the filing location of the item should accompany this citation.