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Maps

Note: The description below refers chiefly to the federal depository map collection housed in LIBRA, the Penn Libraries Research Annex. For the Van Pelt Reference Department's map collection, consult the Reference collection development statement, and for the South Asia map collection, consult the South Asian Studies collection development policy.

I. Program Information

The collection historically served the curricular and research needs of the Geology Department. Although space constraints made the move to storage necessary in 1998, the recently-renamed Earth and Environmental Science Department, and the related Institute for Environmental Studies, continue to be the map collection's most important constituency. Students and faculty of the Graduate School of Fine Arts's City and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Departments, as well as other GSFA and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences programs, also use the collection. The map collection is open to all members of the University and to the general public. Census-related and urban maps held in libraries rather than in storage serve the entire University community, with particular additional emphasis on Sociology, Social Work, History, and Political Science.

II. Collection Description

The core of the University of Pennsylvania's map collection is the current and historic federal depository collection. Individual maps may be requested through the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center's Circulation Desk. These maps are delivered to readers in Van Pelt-Dietrich within 24 business hours.

Since its beginnings early in the twentieth century, the map collection has been very closely tied to the Earth and Environmental Science (formerly Geology) Department. For decades, the map collection was housed in Hayden Hall, where day-to-day access was monitored (and financial support provided) by the Geology Department.

The map collection in storage consists of approximately 120,000 maps. For many years, its holdings derived from U.S. Geological Survey depository program items, donations from the Penn Library, and Geology Department purchases. At present, the collection is a depository for all scales of U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps and all folded map series. In addition, the library holds depository copies of maps from the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA, formerly Defense Mapping Agency [DMA]), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Ocean Survey (NOS), although new, updated maps from the latter agencies were no longer being received after 1998. The collection's depository accessions for Geological Survey of Canada maps halted in the early 1990s. The types of maps include aeronautical charts (NOAA); atlases; city maps (USGS, commercial); extraterrestrial maps; foreign maps; nautical charts (NOAA, NIMA); Soil Survey reports; state geologic maps; USGS series (geologic, geophysical, hydrologic, mineral, etc.); USGS topographic maps (all scales); and world maps. The collection's USGS topographic map holdings are distinctive in that all editions of individual maps are retained; for other series, such as the nautical charts, only the most recent edition is held.

A small number of paper maps and atlases are held in Van Pelt Library and departmental libraries: a particular strength among these are historic city street and real property atlases for Philadelphia and its environs. Van Pelt's Reference Department collects atlases, road maps, and Central Intelligence Agency-produced maps. The atlases are cataloged and shelved in either Van Pelt's stacks or in Reference's oversize section; road and CIA maps are shelved uncataloged in Reference's Documents Room vertical file. The South Asia Regional Studies seminar room on the fifth floor of Van Pelt has an extensive collection of approximately 1,000 maps, covering most of South Asia.

Van Pelt's Microtext Center holds microformat sets of Philadelphia Sanborn and Hexamer Fire Insurance Maps for the later nineteenth and twentieth century through 1980. Nationwide census tract and block maps for the modern decennial censuses are also held in microformat.

During the past decade, digital mapping data have been collected, primarily by Van Pelt Library. Most data holdings have been received through the federal depository library program: e.g., the U.S. Census Bureau's TIGER/Line files and the U.S. Geological Survey's Digital Line Graph data and Pennsylvania-specific Digital Orthophoto Quarter Quadrangle data. With the 1999 acquisition of a Library-wide site license to ESRI's ArcView GIS software and data sets such as Africa Data Sampler, BASINS, CensusCD+maps, Digital Chart of the World, and IndiaMap, the Penn Library has started to develop a strong collection of digital mapping data resources. In addition to these physical holdings, Franklin and the Penn Library Web provide links to other major mapping data sets, primarily for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and world areas treated by Penn area studies programs, and to a small collection of scanned paper maps for Philadelphia census, political, and social geography ready reference. The Philadelphia Census Project heralds a likely model for digital mapping service, being a web-based GIS/analysis/extraction project collaboratively developed by the Penn Library, the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory of the Graduate School of Fine Arts, and the School of Arts and Sciences.

Franklin, the Penn Library catalog, at present does not identify individual maps or map series held in storage. Users can find individual maps using on-site finding aids, such as the guide maps retained at the beginning of the file for each state in the USGS topographic series, through networked online databases such as GeoRef and the U.S. Government Printing Office's Catalog of U.S. Government Publications which together index many of the maps and map investigation series produced by USGS, or with the assistance of Van Pelt reference librarians. Maps and digital mapping data on CD-ROM and in microformat are cataloged in Franklin.

III. Guidelines for Collection Development

  1. Chronological

    No chronological limitations for topographic and geological maps. In the case of nautical and aeronautical maps, only the most recent editions are retained. For cataloged maps held in Van Pelt and other libraries, all dates are collected.

  2. Formats

    Only sheet maps, folded maps, and a few atlases are held in storage. Books and serials that support Earth and Environmental Science and other relevant programs are kept in the Van Pelt and the Fisher Fine Arts libraries. Increasingly, however, digital mapping makes possible accessing maps at remote locations. In addition, the Penn Library receives digitized maps and mapping data in CD-ROM format, which are generally held at Van Pelt's Information Desk or Reference Moelis CD Area, where most are available for readers to borrow.

  3. Geographical

    Only sheet maps, folded maps, and a few atlases are held in storage. Books and serials that support Earth and Environmental Science and other relevant programs are kept in the Van Pelt and the Fisher Fine Arts libraries. Increasingly, however, digital mapping makes possible accessing maps at remote locations. In addition, the Penn Library receives digitized maps and mapping data in CD-ROM format, which are generally held at Van Pelt's Information Desk or Reference Moelis CD Area, where most are available for readers to borrow.

  4. Language

    Not applicable.

  5. Publication Dates

    Depository documents are received soon after publication. In general, the library does not seek to acquire older maps.

IV. Principal Sources of Supply and major Selection Tools

The U.S. Geological Survey through the U.S. Government Printing Office's federal depository library program automatically supplies maps based upon the profile of item selections submitted by the Library. The Library does not usually acquire maps through commercial channels.

V. Subjects Collected and Levels of Collecting

not applicable

VI. Subjects Excluded

Neither the map collection nor Van Pelt acquires facsimiles of historical maps.

VII. Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections

The Free Library of Philadelphia's Social Science and History Department has the largest map collection in the area. It keeps all editions of the USGS depository maps (1:24,000 scale) for Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia; and current editions only for other states. For other scales (1:100,000 and 1:200,000), the Free Library keeps all editions for all states. The Free Library also acquires National Oceanographic Survey charts (east coast only); Army Map Service Hydrological charts (world-wide coverage); and aeronautical charts (world-wide). It also tries to acquires everything on Philadelphia, most maps of Pennsylvania, city maps from around the world, flood maps for the five-county area from the National Flood Insurance Project; road maps; aerial photographs, including those of Philadelphia done every five years by the City Planning Commission. FLP has the current Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlas, updated every year, and keeps a back file of previous editions on microfilm aperture cards. It has the microform version of Sanborn maps for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.

The Center for Research Libraries has the microfilm of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of approximately 10,000 American cities and towns in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Penn readers have access to this set because it was a cooperative purchase to which Penn contributed.

Temple University's Paley Library has topographic maps in various series (USGS 7.5 Minute, 30 X 60 Minute, 1:250,000-Scale, NIMA/DMA world series 1301); Philadelphia City Planning Commission zoning maps; Geologic maps, including investigations series; Central Intelligence Agency maps; and road maps for all 50 states and many cities and foreign countries.

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