Skip to main content

GIS (Geographic Information Systems): Physical Maps

This guide covers resources and tools helpful for people interested in GIS.

I want to learn more about & find... 

snapshot of topographic map of Oakland, CA

Topographic Maps

Topographic maps show the physical geography of an area, including elevation and often elements of the built environment. 

Geologic Maps

Geologic maps portray the distribution of Earth's materials at the planet's surface.

Historical map of Oakland

Historical Maps

Historical maps were created in or depict specific historical periods.

Snippet of Sanborn fire insurance map

Sanborn & Other Fire Insurance Maps 

Fire insurance maps provide extremely detailed information about how cities and towns looked in the past.

Clip of nautical chart of Drake's Bay, CA

Nautical Charts

Nautical charts show water depths, shorelines, and coastal topography.

choropleth map of Middle East

GIS Data

GIS data can be used to create maps and perform spatial analysis.

Getting Started with Finding Maps

Keyword searching is the simplest way to start searching for maps in the Library catalog, Oskicat. Some helpful hints and tips:

  • Include the word “maps” in your keyword search or use the dropdown list to limit to Maps.
  • Include place names to find maps for a particular location: start specific (e.g., city) then broaden your region (e.g., county, state, country).
  • Choose other keywords from our list of common subject keywords for maps.
  • Use the sorted by date feature to browse your search results by date (only available once the search has been run).

Subject searches are the most direct method for retrieving maps and atlases from the Library's online catalog. In Advanced Keyword Search, search by Subject and limit the search by Material Type "printed maps." (The order of the subject keywords is not important).

Note the call number and location to locate the map in our collection.

 

Finding Maps by Call Number

The Earth Sciences & Map Library's collection is cataloged using the Library of Congress G-Classification call numbers, which arrange maps according to geographic areas. One way to retrieve map records from the Library's online catalogs is to search by "Call Number" phrase (e.g., G4363.S3 for Santa Barbara County, California).

NOTE: Call number searches will not retrieve all maps for a given geographic area. For example, a map of California with a city map of San Francisco on the back will be given a call number for the state (i.e. G4360 or G4361). Therefore, a call number search using the classification for San Francisco (G4364.S5) will not retrieve this map. Similarly, maps on microfiche/film, aerial photos, and maps in atlases cannot be found using "map" call number searches because they are assigned different call numbers from those assigned to flat maps.

Interpreting a Map Catalog Record

When viewing the OskiCat record for a map set:

  • Pay attention to scale, dates, and publishers.
  • Use digital and paper index maps to identify relevant sheets.
  • Click “View volumes” to see if we own the sheets that you need.

Note the call number and location to locate the map in our collection.

Copyright © 2014-2019 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Except where otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License.