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Maps, Atlases, and Cartographic Resources

How to find and use maps resources at the James E. Brooks Library

What is a Map?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of a map is: "A drawing or other representation of the earth's surface or a part of it made on a flat surface, showing the distribution of physical or geographical features (and often also including socio-economic, political, agricultural, meteorological, etc., information), with each point in the representation corresponding to an actual geographical position according to a fixed scale or projection; a similar representation of the positions of stars in the sky, the surface of a planet, or the like. Also: a plan of the form or layout of something, as a route, a building, etc".


Mount Stuart quadrantle from 1898 in color1898 Mount Stuart quadrangle in color

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you have Washington State maps in multiple areas in the Maps Room?  It is because they are different kinds of maps: Washington State topographic maps, Washington State geologic maps, Washington State thematic maps, aerial photographs, atlases, etc.

Where do you get your maps?  From a variety of sources!  Some we purchase and some are gifts. Dr. James E. Brooks was a geographer and always gave us good suggestions of where to obtain maps.  Plus Brooks Library serves as a federal and state depository library which means we house maps from both the U.S. and Washington State governments. 

Can anyone use these maps?  Of course.  Everyone is welcome to come in and use the materials.  Several of the  maps may also be borrowed.  However, please know that many of the maps have yet to be fully cataloged so may not appear in OneSearch, the online catalog.  However, if the map is needed for an in-depth project, a librarian will be happy to assist you in determining whether the map may be borrowed.

Do you have globes and atlases to use?   Yes, we have both globes and atlases.  Both may be found in our online catalog, OneSearch, or by going directly to the third floor and asking for help at the service desk.  We have both planetary globes as well as political globes.  We also have a raised relief globe in the Map Room along with some raised relief maps.

Our atlas collection is available both in the Map Room and in the general book stacks.  Newer and large atlases tend to be located in the Maps Room.  You may check out most atlases.