Pathfinder Repository

Maps and Directions

This Pathfinder is no longer being actively maintained by ipl.

General Information

This pathfinder is designed to act as a starting point for finding information about maps and actual copies of maps. There are many different uses for maps and, hence, there are many different types of maps. Internet resources for maps include details of the physical and political layout of almost every corner of the earth, as well as maps that show human characteristics of the land, such as agricultural, growth rate, and pollution maps. There are also Internet sources that use on-line maps to determine directions or exact locations for places based on user input.

Internet Resources

Maps On-Line:

Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/index.html)
This page contains links to some of the maps in the Perry-Castañ Library Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin. The site starts with links to scanned maps that pertain to current events. After that there are a series of links, divided by region, to further on-line maps in the collection. This site has about 2,400 maps of different types. Remember, some of the larger maps can take a while to download at slow speeds.
United Nations Environment Programme (http://www.grida.no/)
The UN Environmental Project site includes links to Geographic Information System (GIS) datasets and Maps and Graphics. The GIS datasets can be downloaded. The maps are divided into geographic regions as well as diverse categories such as economy, human health, infrastructure, and land degradation. Most of these are available for download upon request and different size previews are also available.
CIA World Factbook (http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html)
This site includes 17 large, but fairly simple, maps at the Reference Maps link. There are also smaller maps, one for every country. The latter is sorted alphabetically, with each name linking to a map and detailed information about a country.
Show My Map (https://www.showmymap.com/)
This site offers a powerful interactive map software with analytic features. You can create a visual interactive map that you can use to engage and educate your users. The mapping tool offers an easy, powerful, and intuitive way to create maps without zero coding skills.
Appalachian Trail Maps – Online (http://www.fred.net/kathy/at/maps.html)
This site is just one example of the many sites devoted to maps of a specialized area, in this case, the Appalachian Trail. This site was found by searching at Altavista for +”maps online” +”Appalachian Trail”. This is a good way to get a lot of detailed maps and specific information about a particular location.

Finding Directions:

Mapblast (http://www.mapblast.com/)
Mapblast offers information similar to InfoSpace, but with a lot more options. Follow the link for Advanced searches and get maps of areas based on longitude and latitude, phone area codes, or airport codes.
Yahoo! Maps and Driving Directions (http://maps.yahoo.com/)
This Yahoo! site provides maps given an address. This site is more “no frills” than the other two, with a simpler interface that can make it easier to use. One may link to this site from the Yahoo! hierarchy at http://dir.yahoo.com/Science/Geography/Cartography/Maps/. Within this hierarchy there are many other links to map related websites.

Print Resources


Atlases are books of printed maps pertaining to certain areas. There are political atlases, detailing the world’s country and city borders, highway atlases, useful for travel, astronomical atlases that detail space, and many other varieties. Atlases may be found under G in the Library of Congress system and 912 in the Dewey Decimal system. Look under Atlases- Maps in the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

Here are a few atlases that should be available in a public or university library:

The New International Atlas published by Rand McNally

The Atlas of the World published by National Geographic


Also known as Geographic Dictionaries, gazetteers don’t usually have extensive picture maps. Instead, they have text listings of cities, countries, regions, bodies of water, and physical characteristics, such as mountains, for the area they cover. Basic information about the population, area, and exact location of a town could be found, for example, in a gazetteer of the United States. Gazetteers may be found under G in the Library of Congress system and the 910s in the Dewey Decimal system. Look under Geography- Dictionaries or Geography- Gazetteers in the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

Here are a few gazetteers that should be available in a public or university library:

Webster’s New Geographical Dictionary published by Merriam Webster Inc.

The Cambridge World Gazetteer published by Cambridge University Press

This pathfinder was created by Alex Hovan. Updated by Sena Roth

You may also wish to see IPL: Geography Resources (/ref/RR/static/ref42.00.00.html)