Geography - Finding maps and atlases

Map of Devastating 2003 Heat Wave in the Netherlands Observed from MODIS Satellite. Mehdi Aminipouri (PhD Candidate in Geography at SFU)


The SFU Library collection contains cartographic materials to serve the diverse needs of the University community. It includes atlases, sheet maps, digital maps, air photos and gazetteers. All print and digital maps and atlases are housed in the Maps/Data/GIS unit.  Except for older air photos, all are listed in the Library Catalogue.

Using the library catalogue to find maps and atlases

Subject Searches: Library of Congress Subject Headings are used on all catalogue records. These are standardized terms consisting of a heading and a subheading - for example, Economic conditions - Maps. Headings are either geographic area (ie. Burnaby, Lower Mainland, or British Columbia) or a concept (ie. Hydrology, Economic Conditions). The most common subheadings for cartographic materials are:

  • Map - used for sheet maps
  • Maps - used for atlases and sheet maps which are part of a series
  • Photomap - an aerial photograph
  • Digital mapping - used for computer maps

Additional headings are used to indicate the subject of many maps.  For example, The Seismic Map of the World has two subject headings:


Keyword Searches: It is often easier to find maps and atlases by doing a keyword search and including the word "maps". For example, to find a map on earthquakes, type earthquakes and maps. To find aerial photographs of British Columbia, type British Columbia and photomap.

Finding aids for maps and atlases in the Map Room

  • Sheet Maps Index: List of Geographic Locations and Corresponding Call Numbers: Canada
  • Sheet Maps Index: List of Geographic Locations and Corresponding Call Numbers: US & World (These lists are located on top of the Map cabinets)
  • Library of Congress Call Numbers for Atlases for Territories and Countries of the World
  • Library of Congress Call Numbers for Atlases of the States and Major Territories of the United States (These lists are pasted on the ends of the reference shelves housing the atlases)
  • Air Photo Index (A microfiche index located with a microfiche reader near the computer)
  • National Atlas of Canada, 5th Edition, List of Maps (Located on top of the National Atlas of Canada map cabinets)

Maps on the internet

For a selection of maps on the internet, see the Web Resources section of the Spatial Information Science Resources page.

Additional resources

For more information on GIS at SFU Library, see GIS Services.