This policy applies to sheet maps, atlases, or other cartographic materials in visible and eye-legible formats acquired in active support of research and teaching programs of the university at all levels with information and ideas expressed in cartographic form.

Subject areas including Anthropology, Architecture, Earth Science, Biology, Civil Engineering, Canadian Studies, Geography and Environmental Studies, History, International Affairs, Political Science, Sociology, and Women’s Studies are extensively supported by this collection.

The collection also serves as a resource for the wider community of the national capital area and supports inter-university borrowing, particularly within the Ontario academic community.

Collection Description

The Carleton map collection grew out of the Geography Department’s teaching resource collection developed in the 1960s into a research-oriented Map Library.  From July 1996 it has been a core component of the Maps, Data and Government Information Centre of the MacOdrum Library.

This is a non-circulating research collection of sheet maps, globes, air photos, microforms, digital atlases and cartographic reference works. There is a small collection of wall maps that can be borrowed for classroom use.

As of March 31, 2011 the cartographic collection comprised almost 200,000 items including:

  • Sheet maps: 171,366
  • Atlases: 4,207
  • Air photos: 11,767
  • Wall maps: 360
  • Globes/3D objects: 31

General Guidelines

Material is selected for the collection by map specialists within assigned budgetary limits. Particular attention is paid to academic subject profiles developed for library selectors and to new or developing areas of research interest.  Information about cartographic holdings is incorporated into subject statements made for assessment purposes.

  • The majority of items are added by individual order, with standing orders for selected map series.
  • Maps can be in any format: manuscript, printed, projectable, digital, charts, plans, aerial photographs, remotely sensed images, print atlases, globes, and 3D models. Selected online maps are added to the library’s online catalogue if they meet collection policy guidelines and are of significant value for research and teaching.
  • Printed and digital topographic and geophysical maps issued by Natural Resources Canada issued by through the Depository Services Program are intensively collected.
  • There is no limitation on the chronological period of cartographic materials. The majority of material in the collection dates from the post-World War II period with a very small collection of historical maps, particularly for the Ottawa area.
  • There are no language limitations. Maps are normally produced in the language of the country of publication without translation. In general, prefer maps and atlases in English or western European languages, including non-Roman alphabet areas if available.
  • National atlases are purchased if funding is sufficient.
  • Duplicate copies are not normally acquired.
  • Gifts and other donations are considered individually. They are added to the collection only if they represent value-added coverage or support existing collection guidelines.

Thematic and Topographic Coverage

The range of topics collected for this collection is very wide and includes:

  • Current and historical developments in cartography;
  • Human geography; economic geography; ethnography; history of places and events; social and political development; environmental issues; urban planning; and recreation;
  • Geoscience resources relating to the Earth and extraterrestrial topography, geology, geomorphology, hydrology and bathymetry, oceanography, natural resources, soils, vegetation and land cover.
  • Topographic map coverage is at large scale for the Ottawa-Gatineau region, at smaller scales for provincial, national and world geographies.  Fewer print topographic series are collected in paper due to availability of geospatial resources.

Special Collections

  • Carleton has distinctive holdings of maps and atlases from Russia and Eastern Europe.
  • There is substantial strength for Sub-Saharan Africa. 
  • The library is curator of the special collection of children’s world maps created as part of the International Cartographic Association’s Barbara Petchenik Children’s Map Competition held biennially since 1991. A website for this collection is maintained by the Maps, Data and Government Information Centre.

Related resources

External collections considered relevant for collection policy decisions for Carleton’s cartographic collection are:

  • University of Ottawa map collection
  • Library and Archives Canada map collection
  • National Air Photo Library (Natural Resources Canada)
  • Geological Survey of Canada
  • Other OCUL libraries

Revised April 18, 2011

Policy Attachment: