Map Resources: Terminology & Finding Aids

Terminology

Thematic maps are those with a subject theme, such as geology, vegetation, soil, or land use.

Chart is the name used for maps for air or sea navigation.

Scale:  
Large-scale maps cover smaller areas in greater detail.  Topographic maps are an example. 

Small-scale maps cover larger areas in less detail.  Maps in atlases are an example. 

The major scales in this collection are:

1:24,000 (7.5 minute).     1 inch represents a half mile.
1:50,000.                        1 inch represents .8 mile.
1:63,360.                        1 inch represents 1 mile.
1:100,000.                      1 inch represents 1.6 miles.
1:125,000.                      1 inch represents 2 miles.
1:250,000.                      1 inch represents 4 miles.
1:500,000.                      1 inch represents 8 miles.
1:1,000,000.                   1 inch represents 16 miles.

The Guide to Map Scale at The University of Arizona provides detailed explanations.

Township, range, and section terminology and details can be found in Rebecca Hylland's Topographic Map Scales and the General Land Office Grid System article.

Finding Aids - Electronic & Print

Try Sage first.  If the map or map series cannot be found there, consult the listing below.

US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY TOPOGRAPHIC MAPS:  (I19.81--I19.110)
For details consult webpage on Topographic Maps.

US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY GEOLOGY/THEMATIC MAPS:  (I19.76 --I19.91)
For details consult webpage on Geology Map Resources.

U.S. FOREST SERVICE MAPS: (A13)
US Forest Service homepage: select "Maps & Brochures," then search by forest name.
Public Lands Information Center for both Forest Service and BLM maps.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE MAPS: (I19.106)
National Park Service provides A-Z online maps from park brochures.
USGS Store includes a listing of national park topographic maps.
Trails Illustrated: commercially produced up-to-date maps for most national parks.

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT MAPS: (I53)
Public Lands Information Center useful for identifying many types of BLM maps.
GeoCommunicator interactive site for BLM land and mineral use and land survey information.

US NATIONAL ATLAS: (I19.111)
NationalAtlas.gov provides customized US and North American thematic maps.
National Atlas of the US  is located in the Atlas Cases; published in 1970.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY MAPS:  (PrEx3)
World FactBook provides basic country maps; the print maps (via Sage) are more detailed.

FEMA MAPS: (FEM1.209)
FEMA Map Service Center allows searching for flood maps by address.

TACTICAL PILOTAGE CHARTS: (D5.354)
For details consult webpage on Topographic Maps.

DEFENSE MAPPING AGENCY: (D5.326/7)
For details consult webpage on Topographic Maps.

FAA SECTIONAL/TERMINAL/WORLD AERONAUTICAL CHARTS: (TD4)
Only useful for the US.  Print index found on the map cabinets in the "Catalog of Aeronautical Charts and Related Products" (TD4.81 MAP).   Also available at NACO Aeronautical Products Catalog.

US COAST AND GREAT LAKES NAVIGATION CHARTS: (C55.418)
Various "Charts and Publications" print guides are located on the map cabinets (C55.418 MAP).
Searches and orders are available through OceanGrafix

WORLD COASTAL CHARTS: (D5.356)
"Public Sale" print guides are located on the map cabinets at C55.440 or D5.351/2:1998/2/MAP.
An online source is the Catalog of Hydrographic Products .

CANADA TOPOGRAPHIC MAPS: (G3400's)
For details consult webpage on Topographic Maps.

MEXICO TOPOGRAPHIC MAPS: (G4400's)
For details consult webpage on Topographic Maps.

GREAT BRITAIN TOPOGRAPHIC MAPS: (G5740's)
For details consult webpage on Topographic Maps.

SOIL SURVEY MAPS:
Soil surveys and their accompanying maps are shelved on the fourth floor at A57.38 Doc.  Most are listed in Sage; ask for assistance at the Information Desk if you cannot locate a specific soil survey.  Listings of soil surveys by state and access to online surveys can be found at the Natural Resources Conservation Service Web Soil Survey site or also as WSS.

Other Resources

Major federal government mapping agencies:
US Geological Survey
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Federal Aviation Administration
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (prior names: National Imagery & Mapping Agency; Defense Mapping Agency)
GeoData (federal, state and local geographic data)

Map Libraries:
Colorado School of Mines
University of Colorado-Boulder
Naval Postgraduate School (background on aeronautical and nautical charts)
Humboldt State University (background on aeronautical and marine/nautical charts)

InfoMine: Maps & GIS
This Internet search engine is specific to maps and GIS.