UCB Libraries

Subject Guide: Urban & Regional Planning

  • Getting Started
  • Articles
  • Maps/Images
  • Stats/Data
  • Useful Websites



Researching topics related to planning often crosses disciplinary boundaries and requires information in a number of formats, including books, articles, maps, and statistics.


This brief subject guide provides an overview of resources you might find useful during your research.


Developing Keywords

Choosing appropriate search terms is an important first step in the research process. Take a few moments to brainstorm a list of keywords that describe your topic. Here is a partial list of terms you can use to find material related to planning. As you search for material, you will most likely use several different keywords, combining them into more complex queries.


Cities and towns Planned communities
City planning Public policy
Community development Public transit
Development Regional planning
Ecology Sprawl
Gentrification Suburbs
Growth Transportation
Human Factors Urban design
Land use Urban ecology
Neighborhood Urban renewal
New Urbanism Urbanization



Need More Help?

Have an in-depth question? Not sure where to start? Contact one of the librarians or branches below for more help:


Research & Instruction Librarians

Norlin Library




Map Library

Benson Earth Sciences
Jerry Crail Johnson Earth Sciences and Map Library


Government Information Library

Norlin Library, Third Floor





Accessing Resources from Off Campus

In order to use the databases listed below (and any other licensed resources provided by the library), you MUST use VPN. For more information about VPN, please see the library's page on Off Campus Access.


Top 5 Databases for Planning

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals

Index to journal articles on architecture and design, including the history and practice of architecture, landscape architecture, city planning, historic preservation, and interior design and decoration.


Engineering Village

Comprehensive database for all areas of engineering scholarship, including architectural and civil engineering.


LexisNexis Academic

Interdisciplinary database that contains the full text of national, international, and regional news, newswires, transcripts, magazine articles, legal and business information, public opinion polls, and other sources.


PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service)

Database covering global public policy and social issues including health, finance, economics, education, technology, and the environment for the U.S. and abroad.


Web of Science

Interdisciplinary index of high impact journals in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities.


Haven't found what you need using the resources above? Hundreds more databases are available in Find Articles & More.




The Map Library at CU-Boulder provides access to approximately 200,000 maps, hundreds of atlases and reference books, and digital spatial data collections.


Helpful and knowledgeable staff at the Map Library have created a number of research guides for finding current and historical maps, GIS data, and other resources.


The Map Library's collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are of particular value for planning research. These maps can be used to understand how urban and rural areas change over time, with particular emphasis on development, construction, land use, and property boundaries.


The Map Library also curates a collection of useful websites for maps, data, environmental issues, geology, and much more. Check it out on Delicious!


CU Digital Library

The CU Digital Library provides access to a number of collections relevant to planning research, including:

  • Aerial Photographs of Colorado
  • Architecture & Planning
  • David Rumsey Historical Maps
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Colorado

Please note that several collections in the CU Digital Library are limited to current CU-Boulder affiliates. Please use VPN to access the CU Digital Library.



AP Images

Search for images from the Associated Press. Useful for finding images from newspapers, magazines, wires, etc. VPN required for off-campus access.



Over one million images of visual and material culture, covering all geographic areas and historical periods. ARTstor is the best resource for finding high-quality images of art and architecture. VPN required for off-campus access.



United States

American Factfinder

Population, economic, housing, and geographic data from the US Census and the American Community Survey.


US Census Bureau, Subjects A to Z

Links to Census data about hundreds of topics.


Social Explorer

Displays demographic change that has occurred in the U.S. from 1790 through the present at a variety of geographic levels, including neighborhoods, counties, and states. VPN required for off-campus access.


Statistical Abstract of the United States

Comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.


Still haven't found what you need? There are more resources for US data listed in Find Articles & More.



UN Data

Worldwide data from the United Nations and affiliated organizations.


World Development Indicators

Covers more than 900 indicators for 210 economies with data back to 1960. Data includes social, economic, financial, natural resources, and environmental indicators.


Still haven't found what you need? There are more resources for international data listed in Find Articles & More.


Need more help with data?

The Map Library maintains web-based guides and handouts [PDF] for finding GIS data. For help with finding and using geospatial data, Map Library staff can be reached at maplib@colorado.edu. You can also visit the Map Library for in-person assistance (see Map Library hours).


For help with other varieties of data and statistics, staff in Government Information are especially adept at finding material from governmental and non-governmental sources. You can reach Gov Info staff at govpubs@colorado.edu or visit the Norlin Research Desk on the second floor (see Research Desk hours).




Building Code Reference Library

Want to know which relevant codes are in effect for a given state or municipality? This site provides information for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and major US cities.


Municode Library

Municipal codes for a selection of roughly 1,000 US cities.


International Building Code

Most recent edition available in print in the Engineering Library reference collection.


Planning in Boulder & Denver

City of Boulder, Community Planning & Sustainability

Information about planning, design, land use, zoning, and sustainability. Includes maps, data, documents, and forms.


Boulder County Land Use Department

Information about planning, design, land use, zoning, preservation, sustainability, and development. Includes maps, data, documents, and forms.


City of Denver, Community Planning & Development

Information about planning, design, land use, zoning, preservation, and development. Includes maps, data, documents, and forms.


Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG)

Planning, land use, transit, and environmental issues for the Denver metro area. Includes maps, data, reports, publications, issues papers, and much more.



Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Transit data from the US Department of Transportation. Covering aviation, freight, passenger, maritime, and border crossing data.


Statistics, Maps, & Data - CDOT

Current and projected traffic volumes, state highway attributes, summary roadway statistics, demographics and geographic data from the Colorado Department of Transportation.


Transportation, DRCOG

Transportation-related activities and information for the Denver metro area.