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The Ordnance Survey (OS) is the government agency responsible for producing mapping for the whole of Great Britain. Maps produced by the OS are at the heart of the Library’s collection of modern printed mapping.

The bibliography at the foot of this page provides a starting point for further study of the history of the OS and its maps; these books are on open access in the Reading Room.

The Library did not receive mapping under Legal Deposit until 1911 this means that there are gaps in the collection of older OS maps; however, the Library has managed to obtain the bulk of OS material covering Wales, as well as a large amount of mapping for England and Scotland.

OS small-scale and thematic mapping   

As well as large-scale topographic maps the Library also has small-scale and thematic mapping of Great Britain published by the Ordnance Survey.

In addition the Library also has mapping of Ireland from the Ordnance Survey of Ireland (both pre & post 1922) and the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland. Publications from these 2 bodies are still received through legal deposit.


  • Charles Close, The early years of the Ordnance Survey (Newton Abbott, 1969).
  • Richard Oliver, Ordnance Survey maps a concise guide for historians (London, 2005).
  • Roger Hellyer, Ordnance Survey small-scale maps indexes: 1801-1998 (Kerry, 1999).
  • J B Harley, Ordnance Survey maps a descriptive manual (Southampton, 1975).