This policy applies to cartographic resources, for example sheet maps and atlas. Cartographic resources include the following formats: manuscript, printed, projectable, digital, charts, plans, atlases, globes, models. There is also an extensive cartographic reference collection to assist in the identification of cartographic resources and in their use. These include gazetteers and toponymy publications, bibliographies and carto-bibliographies, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, directories, map interpretation materials, geographical guidebooks, texts relating to geospatial technology and selected cartographic serials.

Geospatial resources are included in the Collection development policy: GIS Resources. Both collection policies are closely aligned.

Cartographic resources assist with the understanding of the socio-cultural, geographical and political aspects of our world, from early history to globalization. The study of maps integrates the humanities with social sciences and natural science.  In recognition of this importance, the cartographic collection is multidisciplinary and built to meet present and anticipated research needs of the university community for information and ideas expressed in cartographic form. artographic resources are located on the first floor of the Library as well as in our on-site storage facility.

General Collection Policy Guidelines

The collection actively supports research and teaching programs of the university at all levels (undergraduate, master and doctoral levels). The collection also serves the wider community of the national capital area and supports inter-university borrowing, particularly within the Ontario academic community.

Geographic Priorities

Material in priority areas I and II are actively sought out and collected within budget constraints. More limited acquisition is pursued for category III areas. Individual countries within each priority are re-examined from time to time to ensure balance and response to teaching and research developments.

Areas in Priority I
  • Ottawa metropolitan region
  • Outaouais region
  • Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Valley
  • Rideau Canal
  • Ontario (Other parts)
  • Quebec
  • Circumpolar areas
  • General world
Areas in Priority II
  • Other Canada
  • Northern Canada
  • Central and South America
  • Caribbean region
  • Western and Northern Europe
  • Eastern Europe
  • Russia and Former USSR states
  • Eastern and Southern Africa
  • United States
  • Middle East South Asia
  • Japan
  • China
Areas in Priority III
  • Australia/New Zealand
  • Southern Europe /Mediterranean region
  • Western and North Africa
  • South and Southwest Asia
  • Other mainland Asia
  • Pacific Islands

Subject Coverage of the Cartographic Collection

Current and Historical Developments in Human Geography
  • Demographics
  • Economic issues
  • Ethnography
  • History of places and events
  • Development issues
  • Social and political conditions
  • Town planning and urban development
  • Historical town plans
  • Recreation
  • Transportation 
  • Natural resources
  • Earth and extraterrestrial topography
  • Geology
  • Geomorphology
  • Hydrology and bathymetry
  • Oceanography
  • Soils
  • Vegetation
  • Land cover

Chronological Period

There is no limitation on the chronological period of cartographic materials. Primary attention is given to collecting current material; however, historical information or representation of places and themes are also of interest for teaching and research.  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.

Specific Types of Materials

  1. Sheet Maps: Sheet maps form the most extensive part of the cartographic collection. Worldwide coverage of general, small and medium scale topographic and thematic maps are collected.  Particular attention is paid to historical maps that reflect cartographic methods and developments over time.
  2. Atlases: As a compliment to sheet maps, atlases form the second most significant part of the cartographic collection.  Major emphasis is placed on the acquisition of detailed atlases as prime sources of information relating to geographical areas and geopolitical and other topical themes. World, regional, national and provincial or state atlases are collected extensively as well as thematic atlases on topics that support areas of research and teaching.
  3. Scanned maps: Scanning our paper maps enhances our cartographic and GIS collection. Using a large format scanner, staff scan maps from the library collection. These scanned maps reside on the library server.There are two circumstances in which we scan.
    1. On-demand scanning, which is user-driven.
    2. Special map scanning projects, like maps from the Ottawa Room.

Large format scanning policy

4. Online maps: The Carleton University library curates a page of selected online and interactive maps. These maps exist on other webpages and servers and have unrestricted access to our users. The online maps page provides a link to those maps.


Maps and atlases added to the collection are fully catalogued and filed in map cabinets according to Library of Congress classification.  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. As per the large-format scanning policy, all scanned maps are catalogued and made available to Carleton students, staff and faculty through a proxy server.

Special Collections

Carleton has distinctive large scale topographic maps of the local area from the 1930’s onward. The library is also the archive 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 1993.


Multiple copies are not normally collected with the exception of Canadian topographic sheets for the local area. Superseded editions of maps are retained if they provide a historical basis for comparative study of a place or theme that is significant for Carleton’s academic programs.  Duplicated materials may be held in remote storage for recall when needed.


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.

Cooperative Planning

We participate in cooperative planning and other initiatives in order to extend the breadth and depth of our cartographic collection (ex. University of Ottawa, OCUL, etc.)

Revised May 20, 2017

Policy Attachment: