2 - Online Catalogues and Advice on Scale, Cataloguing and Conservation

Map collection catalogues online


A union catalogue which gives free access to the merged online catalogues of university, research and special libraries in the UK. See the list of contributing libraries for details and cautions. IMPORTANT NOTE: many map collections do not have online catalogues and so their collections will not be searchable via this or any other online catalogue.

Most of their catalogue records will also be in Library Hub Discover

This site also has lots of useful links. Although the emphasis is on catalogues containing early maps many will also contain more modern materials.

Map scale and coordinates

  • This guide to map scale was produced by the University of Arizona

  • Help from the US Geological Survey on scale

  • Scale Finder converts linear scales to representative fractions and vice-versa. Written by Nigel James when he worked at the Bodleian Library, it is an invaluable tool for cataloguers and map users and is free to non-commercial users.

  • Scale Buddy. Help with scale calculation from Maps International. Does not need to be downloaded.

  • Map Scale Calculator. MapTools also produces grids, corner rulers, roamers, and rulers to assist with plotting or measuring positions on many different scales of maps. Tools for both UTM/MGRS and Latitude/Longitude coordinates are available.

  • Scale Calculator. Inches, centimeters, miles, kilometres. From Terry Reese.

  • Some of the links of the Cambridge University Library Map Department web pages may also be useful

  • Bounding Box. Free online tool for determining bounding coordinates of maps.

Natural scale indicators


These devices enable a quick calculation of scale from scale bars and degrees of latitude.


  • A handy clear plastic one can be purchased from Alberta Wood in Canada.N.B. In March 2017 Alberta emailed to say that she had no more in a saleable condition but might look into reprinting.

  • East View Map Link Scalefinder by East View Press (paper natural scale indicator)

  • YouTube video on how to use a Natural Scale Indicator

  • The U. S. Geological Survey has published a poster to aid the conversion of bar scales to representative fractions: Miscellaneous Field Studies Map, No.MF 1141, 'Graphs showing linear to fractional scale conversions for maps', by Alpha, T.R. and Poole, D.W., 1979, SAP Number 30236.

Cataloguing of maps


Conservation of maps

  • The Institute of Conservation (Icon). Their Conservation Register will help you find qualified conservators / restorers in the UK and Ireland

  • Suppliers - For conservation suppliers see the equipment and supplies page

  • Queries on conservation or preservation can be placed on the Conservation DistList, an international listserv at Conservation OnLine

  • The Digital Preservation Coalition

  • ERPANET is concerned with approaches to existing and future digital preservation problems.

  • Preservation Leaflets from Northeast Document Conservation centre

  • Scrapbook. "Learn how to prevent destruction and preserve personal and historical items for future generations. This page is designed to be the most extensive, and comprehensive page on the protection and preservation of paper on the internet".

These pages were compiled by: April Carlucci (British Library Map Library); Tinho da Cruz (Department of Geography, University of Liverpool); Anne Taylor (Cambridge University Library). They are maintained by the Map Curators' Group of the BCS. Colleagues are requested to help keep this information current by e-mailing suggestions for inclusion, and details of links that don't work.

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