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Map and GIS Subject Guide  

Last Updated: Nov 9, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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About the UCD Map Collection

The UCD Map Collection is an extensive research-level collection of maps, both print and electronic, and a supporting collection of guides, gazetteers and atlases. It supports a variety of disciplines including agronomy, botany, history, economics, and environmental studies. The collection emphasizes the Central California Valley area and maps of local importance. The collection also contains many topographic maps and maps of agriculture and agricultural-related subjects from areas with similar climate and growing types to those of the Central Valley. Digital geospatial data are collected with an emphasis on the Central Valley, California and areas related to current and anticipated University research and instruction needs, with an emphasis on data that may be made freely available to the University community.



The Map Collection is located on the lower level of Shields Library and is open Monday through Friday 1 PM to 5 PM except for University Holidays. The majority of the collection is open stacks, so you may retrieve the maps for yourself.

If you wish assistance with locating the maps you want, please contact the Map Collection staff at (530) 752‑9786 during the hours the collection is open, or the Special Collections Department at (530) 752‑1621. Map reference questions may be sent to

Due to repeated loss and damage, the Map Collection is non-circulating. Please consult with the Map Assistant at (530) 752‑1621 regarding special loan or copying arrangements.

Our collection is organized by the Library of Congress (LC) classification system.


Subject Coverage

The Map Collection covers a wide range of subjects. Because of the campus's extensive research and teaching programs in agriculture and related areas, subjects emphasized include: agriculture, soils, vegetation, irrigation, land use, and water resources. Also available are maps relating to economics, ethnology, history, nuclear energy, governments, and other subjects. Additional collection emphases are:

  • Current topographic maps (1:24,000 scale for California and the western United States of America, 1:250,000 for the United States, and 1:1,000,000 for the world)
  • Historic topographic maps of California
  • Aerial photography of the Central Valley
  • California road maps
  • Geological and geophysical maps
  • Nautical charts of the west coast of North America

The Physical Sciences & Engineering Library has a small map collection which consists of specific folded USGS map series and Open File reports.


Geographic Coverage

The Map collection emphasizes the Central California Valley (Sacramento and San Joaquin River Valleys) in all scales, formats, and subjects. The collection also emphasizes maps (especially for agricultural-related subjects) of areas with a similar agro-climate to the Central Valley (i.e., Mediterranean) and for major viticulture and wine producing regions. Maps of other regions of the world are available at a smaller scale and on more limited subjects. (e.g., topography, roads).


Locating Maps

Except for the USGS topographic map series, all maps in the collection are cataloged. You can use UC Davis Library's catalog to locate maps on the topic you are interested in by following these easy tips:

  • Use the Advanced Search and limit the format to "Maps/Cartographic Materials." (This will retrieve all sheet maps and most atlases that meet your criteria.)
  • Do a Field Search in subject on the place name (e.g., Davis) you are interested in.
  • Use the other field search boxes to limit your search by keywords if you are interested in a specific topic (e.g., soils, irrigation).
  • If you do not find what you want, broaden the search by using a broader geographic subject (e.g., Yolo instead of Davis).

If you cannot find what you are seeking, please ask for assistance at the Map staff room.

Cataloged maps are filed by call number in cases in the Map Room. Maps designated "Old Maps" are in a locked case and must be requested at the Map staff room. USGS topographic maps are filed alphabetically by map name within each series. Indexes are available to help you determine the map name.


Other Map Collections

If the UC Davis Library does not have the map you want, check with the Map & GIS Librarian about the possibility of gaining access to maps at the other University of California Campuses. The other Library's web sites are also a good source of information about their collection and contain many useful links to On-line resources.


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