Lloyd Reeds Map Collection

There are no language limitations.

To provide a comprehensive collection of cartographic information, covering all areas and time periods.

To develop special in-depth collections of cartographic materials for areas of particular teaching and research interest to members of the McMaster University community.

To support and facilitate the use of the cartographic collection with appropriate textual information, eg. gazetteers, manuals on map interpretation, foreign language dictionaries.

Curator control over the map collection is high. Although Faculty recommendations are welcomed, they account for a very small percentage of acquisitions. Maps and atlases are not purchased to satisfy a single Ph.D. project on a small area and relatively short term, as this is considered to fall under student's necessary personal expenditures. If however the study falls within a continuing or high priority area, requests for maps will be seriously considered and adjustments are made for changing needs.

All visual information is interdisciplinary; it is quite impossible to assign any map as exclusive to any subject or Faculty. Visual information is complementary to and interconnected with other formats of information, and should be integrated and used in connection with all other areas of the Library's collections.

All areas, terrestrial, submarine and celestial, are collected. Some geographical areas are covered only at small scales, eg. with atlases and general maps. Areas which are of current teaching and research interest are covered in larger scales, eg. with complete topographic series and with thematic mapping and atlases.

There are no chronological limits. The collection includes a representation of mapping from all time periods, with particular emphasis on periods needed for teaching and research interests.

The collection should include a representation of all forms of cartographic information.
  • Maps. Sheet maps, both historic and modern, are collected according to priority levels assigned to geographic areas. These are in many formats, including microfiche. Plans are also collected. Maps in globe form are collected as representative examples. Mounted wall maps are not collected. Moulded relief maps are collected as representative examples.
  • Atlases. Atlases, both historic and modern, are collected according to priority levels assigned to geographic areas. Some general atlases are necessary for reference use, and it may be necessary to duplicate these in other sections of the Library. Atlases relating to specific areas and specific subjects are housed in the Map Collection. It is in the best interests of the users of cartographic materials to centralize this information where possible.
  • Aerial photography and remote sensing imagery. Stereoscopic flight line coverage of the Hamilton-Wentworth area is collected to meet our policy of concentration on the immediate area. Aerial photography of other areas is not systematically collected, but may be purchased to support research and teaching. Some remote sensing imagery is held, but was donated, not purchased. Photographic reproductions of remotely sensed imagery, with explanatory text where possible, are collected. Digitial orthophotography and digital remote sensing data are collected when available through consortial or educational agreements.
  • Microform. Microfilms of geographic information documents presently unmapped are collected to meet teaching and research interests, eg. surveyors's notebooks, assessment rolls and city directories. Maps on microfiche are collected when the visual information would not otherwise be available to us in paper format, eg. historical maps, or when cost and/or storage would be otherwise prohibitive. Maps on slides are collected where colour is essential to the information content and the map is not otherwise available.
  • Reference material. Text materials are collected where they are necessary to facilitate the use or the interpretation of the visual information. Bibliographies, geographical and foreign language dictionaries, gazetteers and other specialized reference works are collected. Some local historical material is collected to support use of the local map collection. Works on the interpretation of cartography are included in the Map Collection. Works on the theory or techniques of cartography are kept in Thode Library.
  • Periodicals. Cartographic periodicals are housed in the Map Collection. Periodicals relating to GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and remote sensing are kept in Thode Library.
  • Digital cartography. Electronic atlases are collected according to the same priority levels as for paper atlases. Electronic atlases should be added to the collection only if they meet the needs of university-level researchers. Multi-user licenses or networking capability are desirable, but most electronic atlases are still being produced as single-user products. All other factors being equal, priority will continue to be given to paper atlases for the time being.
  • Digital geospatial data. The need for digital geospatial data, for use in Geographic Information Systems, is steadily growing. These data will be collected according to the priority levels assigned to all materials. Local area, Ontario and Canada are priorities for collection, as are any coverages or themes required to support particular teaching and research interests. The Map Collection will attempt to participate in any cooperative agreements which will result in improved educational access to digital geospatial data. ArcInfo export and ArcView shapefile formats are preferred for geospatial data.
     The basic collection now developed provides comprehensive global map coverage to support the present and anticipated general needs of the McMaster community. Small scale topographic mapping and general maps are available for all areas. Areas which are of interest for teaching and research are collected in greater depth, including topographic coverage at larger scales and thematic maps and atlases.

      Inter-library loan of maps is available among Ontario Council of University Libraries Map Group members, to supplement our own map collection when necessary.

Topographic Coverage

      Topographic maps comprise the core of the map collection. The Map Collection maintains depository status on federal National Topographic Series and on Ontario Base Mapping (for the local area). Superseded sheets of Canadian maps and selected other areas are retained for historical studies.

Thematic Coverage: Major Divisions


      Original rare maps are collected and kept in the Research Collections Division, Mills Library. The Map Collection holds reproduction copies of these (photocopies, photographs or microfilm). Reproductions and facsimiles are collected in the Map Collection for active use.


      The Map Collection collects geological sheet maps only, and reports where the map constitutes the most significant part of the information content. The collection does not include maps in reports where the text constitutes the majority of information, which are held in Thode Library. For Canada, historical geological survey maps are collected, as well as modern geological sheets (not preliminaries). Ontario Geological Survey Preliminary and Final series are collected. Geological cover of the rest of the world is general and small scale, at the full country or full state level.


      The Great Lakes and waterways contingent to the local area are collected and maintained through Notice to Mariners. Hydrographic charts for other areas of Canada and the world are generally not purchased; existing collections are kept but not maintained for accuracy or currency.

Environmental and Other Thematic

      All types of thematic maps not falling in the above categories are collected, e.g. transportation, vegetation, etc. Emphasis is placed on the research and teaching needs of the McMaster community, on the local Hamilton-Wentworth and Southern Ontario area, and on the lasting value of the information content (in terms of currency and comparative interest).


  1. When purchasing topographic cover, series should always be purchased complete. Small scale cover, eg. in areas of general interest, includes scales such as 1:500,000, 1:1,000,000 and smaller. Large scale coverage, collected in areas of teaching and research interest, includes scales such as 1:250,000, 1:100,000 and larger. Larger scale topographic coverage is collected complete for Canada and Ontario, e.g. N.T.S. 1:50,000, O.B.M. 1:10,000 (local area in paper, remainder in microform).
  2. When purchasing large scale topographic cover for a small area or research area, where the full series is not being purchased, the geographic area should be purchased complete if possible, eg. full state, full township, full grid area.
  3. Where the above - either 1 or 2 is done, all available atlases both current and historic are purchased in order that historic and modern maps, and in broad terms, economic, biological and geological data, are available for anyone studying in that area.
  4. The decision to buy topographic cover (1 and 2) is automatically followed by step 3.
  5. World series maps, eg. 1:1,000,000, 1:2,000,000, and world atlases, are purchased as available with no subject limitations.
  6. Maps of detail greater than 1:25,000, eg. city street maps, are purchased as available. Historical views of cities are collected in as full chronological sequences as possible. Maps of Hamilton and Wentworth County extend to the block plan scale.
  7. Hydrographic cover and geologic cover are collected for all the world, but are of small scale except in Canada.
  8. For areas of intense study by a substantial number of students over a prolonged period, large scale maps of areas outside Canada are purchased. For states of the U.S.A bordering the Great Lakes, topographic cover is infrequently updated. U.S.A cover more detailed than 1:250,000 is no longer being automatically purchased.
  9. Maps which are rapidly dated , eg. land use, are purchased complete only for Canada, Ontario or the local area. Such maps from other countries are held only as examples or samples of cartographic methodology. Emphasis is placed instead on soils and land capability maps as being more useful and of more lasting interest. Some land use maps are held for historic comparisons. Current land use is generally studied using air photos.
  10. Thematic atlases of all kinds are purchased if they show spatial distributions, and may range from the Vatican collection to plankton distribution, through climatic atlases, ice atlases, ground water atlases, city atlases. Linguistics atlases are housed in Mills Library. Priority for purchase is determined by geographical area, rather than by theme.

Major Geographical Areas and Coverage Levels

  • Canada and Ontario - complete N.T.S. and O.B.M. coverage and superseded sheets, complete atlases and thematic mapping, 19th C incomplete (A)
  • Wentworth County, Hamilton-Wentworth Region - complete, modern and historical (A)
  • Canada, other provinces - selected general mapping, thematic mapping and atlases (B)
  • United States - topographic coverage at 1:250,000 complete, large scale topographic coverage of states bordering the Great Lakes infrequently updated, selected general maps and atlases at country and state level (C)
  • Europe - topographic coverage of teaching areas complete, selected general maps and atlases at the country level (C)
  • Asia - small scale topographic coverage, selected general maps and atlases at the country level (D)
  • Africa - small scale topographic coverage, selected general maps and atlases at the country level (D)
  • Central and South America - small scale topographic coverage, selected general maps and atlases at the country level (D)
  • Australia - small scale topographic coverage, selected general maps and atlases at the country level (D)