Map Library Collection
The Map Library collection consists of an estimated 200,000 maps, over 500 atlases and geographic reference books, and a growing collection of digital spatial data. Our collection provides well-rounded, world-wide coverage. We collect general and thematic maps and atlases at small and large scales, mostly from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, and related reference materials such as gazetteers. The Map Library is a full Federal Depository Library and the majority of our maps are acquired through the Federal Depository Library Program.
- Historical Aerial Photos
- Mining Maps
The Map Library is the main map collection for the University of Colorado Libraries and houses approximately 200,000 maps, 500 atlases and a growing collection of digital spatial data.
The University of Colorado Boulder is the regional depository for the state of Colorado. The Map Library houses the maps received through the Federal Depository Library Program from agencies such as USGS, BLM, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Transportation, NGA (formerly NIMA, DMA, and AMS), and CIA.
The Map Library collection also contains Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of Colorado, historical aerial photographs of Colorado, many facsimiles of historical maps, print satellite images, topographic maps on CD-ROM, and digital geospatial data. The digital data collection is founded on reference GIS datasets: the ESRI base datasets, the USGS/AGI Global GIS datasets, DOQQs for much of the Front Range of Colorado, DRGs for all of Colorado , and DEMs for the entire U.S. The collection also contains thematic and more detailed data for certain areas.
U.S. Geological Survey Maps
The Map Library owns the entire U.S. Geological Survey 7.5 minute topographic map series as well as the 1:100,000 and 1:250,000 scale topographic series, and thematic (geologic) maps series. Older editions of USGS topographic and mining area maps (from the 1880s through the 1960s) are also available for all states. The 1:50,000 and 1:100,000 scale county map series are available for Colorado
The Map Library collection covers a broad range of subject areas including geography, geology, history, architecture/urban planning, environmental studies, genealogy, travel, and recreation.
We have put together an extensive list of links to online maps, GIS data, and maps reference resources. Please see the subject list on the left side navigation for these guides.
Access to the Map Library Collection
The Map Library's collection is only partially cataloged; about 50% of the maps can be accessed through the Libraries' catalog, Chinook. Begin searching in Chinook and if you do not find what you need, please ask the Map Library staff. Most of the maps in the Map Library collection can be checked out.
Maps and books can be checked out for 14 days (except fragile or rare maps and reference books, which do not circulate).
Building Colorado Story by Story:
The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Collection is a digital collection of Sanborn fire insurance maps of cities across Colorado. The collection contains 346 maps (on 2,385 sheets) of 79 principal cities in 52 counties covering the years 1883-1922. Only a portion of the Map Library's Sanborn maps have been digitized. Please see below for more about the print collection.
Search the collection in the CU Digital Library.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
D.A.Sanborn's Company was founded in 1867 in New York City. These maps were originally designed for fire insurance underwriters to determine the risk involved in insuring individual properties. They show the size, shape, and construction of buildings as well as street names, property boundaries, and building use. Currently, they may be used for a variety of purposes, including environmental site assessment, architecture, urban history, and genealogy.
The Print Collection
The Sanborn maps owned by the University of Colorado, Boulder are all in Chinook, the online catalog. You can search for a specific city (keyword search: "[city name] sanborn maps") or browse by doing a title search for "sanborn fire insurance maps colorado." The collection maps approximately 560 cities, beginning in 1883 and ending in 1937.
Sanborn maps may be viewed by appointment only. They do not circulate, and may not be photocopied. Digital photos are permitted.
Other Libraries' Holdings
- Other libraries' holdings of Sanborn maps for Colorado and other states may be found on UC Berkeley's Union List of Sanborn and Other Fire Insurance Maps.
- More information about the history and use of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps can be found at UC Berkeley's Earth Sciences and Map Library website.
- The Library of Congress hosts the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Online Checklist which includes a searchable database and state-by-state index of the Sanborn maps held by the Library of Congress, as well as other information about the maps.
- Center for Research Libraries holds the complete set on microfilm for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. (Available through Interlibrary Loan)
This collection provides access to almost 1,700 digitized aerial photographs of Colorado taken by the U.S. Forest Service in the years from 1938 to 1947. See the guide for more information about aerial photographs available in the Map Library.
The bulk of the collection is uncataloged and un-indexed. Please call 303-492-7578 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment to see the collection. This will be considered an archival collection and will remain non-circulating even when it is fully indexed.
The Mining Maps of Colorado digital collection provides access to scanned maps of various mines, lodes, and claims in Colorado from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. These maps come from a variety of creators, including private publishers and US government agencies.
The Map Library has geospatial data from many government and commercial sources. See our guide for more information about geospatial data available in the map library