The map collection contains 1.5 million sheets of maps, charts and plans as well as thousands of atlases. It is the largest map collection in Wales, and one of the largest in the British Isles. The collection contains a wide range of materials from the latest electronic mapping to 16th century maps and charts on vellum. The collection specialises in Welsh material; but also has a large number of items covering the rest of the world.
The Library aims to collect any material covering Wales or produced by Welsh mapmakers. There is also a special interest in the rest of the British Isles and in those parts of the World with Welsh or Celtic connections, for example Brittany and Patagonia. While the Library concentrates on collecting Welsh material, the aim has always been to obtain detailed coverage of the whole World, as far as possible.
Through Legal Deposit, the Library is entitled to receive a copy of every printed map and atlas published in the British Isles. Recent changes to the law mean that this will eventually be extended to include electronic mapping as well, including data created in Geographical Information Systems (GIS).
The collection also contains a large amount of material deposited with, donated to, or purchased by, the Library. This material mainly consists of manuscript material, antiquarian printed material, and modern mapping published overseas.
In addition to topographic mapping (maps showing the landscape) the Library also collects thematic mapping (for example geological and land-use mapping).
The collection contains maps and plans at many different scales from single sheets covering the whole World to detailed engineering drawings and architectural plans.
The collection is divided into several different categories of material, more information on some of these can be found by following the links on the left. In addition the ‘External map Links’ page provides links to external resources.
Most of the map collection has been catalogued and can be found in the Library’s online catalogue.
Items can be ordered from the catalogue for viewing in the South Reading Room; where there are also some maps on open access, as well as a collection of reference books and some atlases.
Most of the collection is available for study, though special procedures are in place for those wishing to view antiquarian atlases; only one volume may be consulted at a time and the Library may provide a surrogate rather than an original. Readers wishing to see atlases published prior to 1800 must complete the form available in the South Reading Room.
Some sets of maps are catalogued as a single item rather than sheet-by-sheet and it is necessary to specify individual sheets when ordering. Index maps are available for many of these sets and are marked up to show which sheets are in the collection.