Finding Maps, Atlases, Air Photographs and GIS Data
Locating Unfamiliar Place Names
If you need to locate an unfamiliar place name, you will find a wide range of gazetteers and atlases containing indexes of place names in the T.R. Smith Map Collection. The staff on duty will be glad to recommend the best place-name index for your purpose. They can also help you to locate the place on a map.
Outside our open hours you will find atlases in the reference areas of Anschutz, Watson and Spencer Libraries. Alternatively, there are gazetteers for both American and foreign place names at the U.S. Geological Survey's website.
Finding Paper Sheet Maps
We recommend that you start with an online search but that you also visit or contact the T.R. Smith Map Collection to find out about maps not yet listed in the online catalog. Individual maps and map series listed in the KU Libraries online catalog include most of our recent maps published by U.S. government agencies and a smaller percentage of our holdings of maps from other American and foreign sources. Older maps are being added to the online catalog as our transition from card catalog to online catalog progresses.
When searching the KU Libraries online catalog for maps, we recommend that you use the Guided Keyword Builder and enter as search terms:
geographical place name + 'map' (or 'maps') + keyword or subject heading (if relevant)
Experimenting with different terms and combinations may improve your results.
After finding a map in the online catalog, you can visit the T.R. Smith Map Collection to look at the map. If you don't find the map you need in the online catalog, don't give up! Please visit or contact the T.R. Smith Map Collection, and ask us to help!
We can assist with online catalog searching and also show you how to find maps in our card catalog. The T.R. Smith call number system organizes our sheet maps systematically by geographical place name, subject matter, scale and date, so direct browsing is also very efficient. We can guide you to drawers in our map cases where you can browse through folders of relevant maps.
If appropriate to your search, we may also direct you to maps filed by U.S. Government Documents SUDOC number (such as aeronautical charts and CIA maps), to U.S. Serials Set maps (maps from U.S. Congressional reports) or to folded maps filed by geographical place name (such as road and tourist maps and maps of U.S. National Parks and Forests).
Additionally, there are maps in Spencer Research Library. The Kansas Collection holds 19th- and early 20th-century maps relating to Kansas ranging from city maps to maps of the state and the surrounding region. In Special Collections there are early maps in the Orbis Collection and in other collections. The University Archives has a collection of maps and building plans of the KU campus that complement the KU campus maps in the T.R. Smith Map Collection.
Perhaps you want to find an atlas about a particular geographical area or subject. You may also find a useful map in an atlas if none of our sheet maps meets your needs. The index of place names in an atlas will also help in locating unfamiliar place names.
Searching the online catalog is the best way to find atlases in the KU Libraries. Almost all atlases appear in the online catalog, but they are shelved in different libraries across campus according to their Library of Congress call numbers. When searching the KU Libraries online catalog for atlases, we recommend that you use the Guided Keyword Builder and enter as search terms:
geographical place name + 'atlas' + subject keyword or heading (if relevant)
Experimenting with different terms and combinations may improve your results.
If you want a general atlas, you are most likely to find it shelved in the T.R. Smith Map Collection. The collection contains the greatest concentration of atlases in the KU Libraries, most of which can be checked out by patrons. They are shelved at the east end of the maps area according to their size. The Oversize (extra large) atlases are shelved flat, as are the large Folio atlases, while the medium large Folio atlases are shelved upright. Regular sized (small) general atlases (those with Library of Congress call numbers starting with 'G') are in the Anschitz 1 South stacks next to the T.R. Smith Map Collection.
We also have a small reference section of frequently used non-circulating atlases. Direct shelf browsing of these sequences of atlases is feasible, but an online catalog search is always our recommended starting point. Outside our open hours you will find some general atlases in the reference areas of Anschutz and Watson Libraries.
The results of your online search may take you to other KU Libraries. There you will atlases on different subjects shelved in the stacks, along with books on related subjects that have similar Library of Congress call numbers. There may also be some early 20th-century atlases still at Dewey call numbers.
If you are interested in seeing atlases from the 18th century and earlier, you will find some of Spencer Research Library's holdings listed in the online catalog. However, you should also visit or contact Spencer Research Library to check for early atlases that may still appear only in the Special Collections card catalog.
The aerial photograph collection includes mainly Kansas coverage and also small selected holdings for other geographical areas. A search of the KU Libraries online catalog that includes the search phrase 'aerial photograph' or 'aerial photographs' will turn up collective entries for some but not all of our holdings. The search term 'photomap' will also bring up some maps that incorporate aerial imagery. However, the best way to find out whether we hold coverage of the right date for your geographical area of interest is to visit or contact the T.R. Smith Map Collection.
Sets of aerial photographs of Douglas County (including Lawrence) dating from 1937, 1941, 1954, 1966, 1976, and 1995 are accessible online at our website at airindex. The 1995 set is geo-referenced but covers only a small part of the county. All of the images can be downloaded from the site. These images are supplied in MrSID format and require a special browser plugin or viewer to display.
Aerial photographic coverage for Douglas County (including Lawrence) dating from 1937, 1941, 1954, 1966, 1976 and 1986 is accessible online at the DASC (Kansas Data Access & Support Center) website. It will be found in the catalog as "Douglas County Historical Rectified Aerial Photos" under the "Imagery and Raster" category. These images are all georeferenced. They may be viewed on any browser, appearing as overlays with various online map and/or satellite imagery. Each years' coverage can be downloaded from the DASC site as a single ESRI geotiff format image. (Warning: these are large files and will take some time to download even with a fast internet connection.)
We also have nearly comprehensive coverage of the entire state of Kansas from the 1986 reappraisal survey. This coverage is arranged by county on rolls of negative aerial photographic film. Index maps and lists of our holdings make it easy to locate the right roll of film, although finding images on the rolls requires scrolling through the film on a viewing table. Patrons usually find it more convenient to order positive prints made from our negative film by a licensed vendor (ask us for the list of vendors).
In addition, we have other aerial photographic coverage for some Kansas counties in a mixture of formats (paper prints and film negatives and positives). Index maps in the T.R. Smith Map Collection are also the best way to access these aerial photographs.
Remote Sensing Imagery and Data
The T.R. Smith Map Collection has relatively little remote sensing imagery, although some of our atlases and maps include such images or are compiled from remotely sensed data. If remote sensing imagery or spatial data is what you are seeking, please contact the GIS and Data Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864-1238 to ask for assistance locating and using imagery and data.