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University Libraries - Maps Collection

Map Library Information

Hours: Monday-Wednesday (8 AM-9 PM);Thursday (8 AM-6 PM); Friday (8 AM-5 PM); Saturday (2-6 PM); Sunday (2-9 PM)
Location: Thomas Cooper Library on level 5

Mission | Policies | Geographic Information Systems | Library Services | Staff


The Mission of the Map Library is to support the geographic research and teaching needs of every academic discipline offered by the University of South Carolina.  The Library also assists the general public with South Carolina and depository geographic research.  The Library staff collects and disseminates geographic information needed by researchers working with spatial topics in all Colleges and Schools.  To accomplish the mission, the staff assists patrons with an assortment of maps, atlases, aerial photos, gazetteers, digital collections and data.  Collections are continually updated by acquiring spatial representations in multiple formats. The Library digitizes paper map and aerial photo collections to facilitate researchers and broaden the user base.  The Library maintains Web pages that point to digital collections, data, and additional geographic information available at other locations.  Facilities and assistance are available to researchers creating spatial images through the use of Geographical Information Systems.  The Library also supports the creation of electronic data and the use of data manipulation tools related to geography.  The staff offers instruction in the use of Map Library resources.


The core of the Map Library collection consists of approximately 250,000 maps, 130,000 aerial photographs and 4,000 atlases and books.  The Library is an essential resource center for students, faculty and researchers involved in a wide range of studies.  The Library provides a wealth of geographic reference and primary source material.  Although normally associated with Geography, maps and other spatial data are an important resource for every College in the University.  Whether it is the School of Public Health studying the number of mosquitoes in a particular area or the Business School studying the direction of financial development in a city, maps are an essential aid in academic and practical research. In historic and cultural lessons, a geographic resource provides crucial insight.  The Map Library makes an effort to inform all Colleges of the rich resources it has available for them.


Stacks - The Map Library has a reading room in which all material and equipment is available for use by patrons.  In addition, maps and aerial photos are kept in a closed stack room.

Map Collection - Maps are available upon request at the Government Information and Maps Reference Desk.  Search the online catalog for the call number of the map.  Map Library personal will also assist patrons in searching and browsing in the closed stacks.

South Carolina Aerial Photos –

1. Ask the library staff for the specific county index to the aerial photos you are looking for.

2. Find your location in the county indexes.

3. Fill out a search card listing the year, FIPS code, flight line, and photo number.

4. Give the search card to the staff and they will collect the photos for you.

Atlas Collection – Atlases are accessible in the stacks in the Map Library.  They are arranged by Library of Congress (LC) call number and size.  Search the online catalog for the call number of an Atlas.    

Travel Guides - Guides are accessible in the stacks in the Map Library.  They are arranged by LC call number.  Search the online catalog for the call number of a Guide.

CD/DVD – CD’s and DVD’s are available upon request at the Map Library Reference Desk.  Search the online catalog for the call number.  Map Library personal will also assist patrons in searching and selection.

Circulation The Map library does not circulate its collections.

Copying - See Photoduplication

Scanning - Scanning is available on a limited basis.  Ask the Map Library staff for assistance.

Research – The Staff will assist researchers beyond ready reference service as time and staffing permits.

Geographic Information SystemsThe introduction of Geographic Information Systems(GIS) has animated Geographic data. The use of GIS can make the world of statistics and information from every discipline come alive through more meaningful graphic presentations of data.  GIS is also designed to incorporate and relate electronic data from multiple themes to aid researchers in the discovery and presentation of new information.

The primary GIS software used on campus and in the Map Library is ESRI.  Equipment loaded with this software is available to the University Community during the regular hours of the Map Library. 

Basic assistance in the use of ESRI software is available by appointment.  Assistance consists of basic construction of graphic data layers.  Users can work with data they have generated, data in the public domain and data legally available from vendors the Library or the user subscribes to.  Assistance is not available to Geography students or students taking GIS coursework. 

If the Map Library staff believes the project will require a complicated manipulation of data, the patron will be referred to the CENTER FOR GIS AND REMOTE SENSING in the Geography Department for intermediate and advanced assistance.  In addition to project assistance, the CENTER also offers short courses that the library recommends for all researchers who will be using ESRI.

Our Research Guides and Data site has an enormous list of sites on the Web where valuable GIS data can be downloaded.  In addition, the Thomas Cooper Library subscribes to many commercial electronic databases and journals containing information that can be used to create ESRI data.  Among the various search pages available to access them from various angles are Online geographic Journal Subscriptions, Electronic IndexesElectronic Journals, and Subject Guides.

The University has a campus site license for ESRI.  To download the software, go to software licensing and support at the CENTER FOR GIS AND REMOTE SENSING.

Hosting Data – The Map Library hosts data from University and outside sources on a selective basis.  Contact the Map Library for further information.


University of South Carolina
Government Information and Maps Department (L516)
Thomas Cooper LibraryLevel 5

Bill Sudduth
Head, Government Information and Maps (L518C)

A. Ross Taylor, Map Library Specialist (L518D)