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Penn State University Libraries

Donald W. Hamer Maps Library

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Welcome to the Donald W. Hamer Maps Library, located in the basement of Central Pattee Library, in the heart of the Penn State University Park campus. We house 4,000 atlases, reference books, gazetteers, cartography texts, cartobibliographies, and thousands of map sheets. In addition, we offer digital resources, scanning, and map-making services.


About the Collection

The map collection was started by Ruby Miller in 1947. The bulk of the early collection consisted of Geography Department duplicates and a large number of maps from the Army Map Service Library. The former provided the basis for what is now one of the most complete USGS collections available. We hold a full set of current USGS topo quads at 7.5', 30', and 1 degree scales, most of the superseded editions for the entire nation, and a large portion of the early 15' and 30' editions. The Army Map Service collection contains a wealth of large-scale topographic maps and town plans from around the world, particularly from Europe. Most of the maps date from the first half of the 20th century and consist of items collected, captured, or published by the US Army and intelligence services.

In more recent years the collection has been built on deposits from the USGS, the U.S. Government Printing Office, NOAA (world nautical charts), NIMA/Geospatial Intelligence, the Library of Congress Summer Program, and the Canadian Topographic Depository program. The library also purchases maps from private companies from around the globe in order to keep all areas of the collection as current, thorough, and diverse as possible.

The Maps Library also houses 4,000 atlases, reference books, and gazetteers. Along with the selection of current general atlases is a nice collection of thematic atlases, foreign atlases, cartography texts, journals, and cartobibliographies.

All books are listed in the Libraries' online catalog.

The Libraries is steadily making progress towards having the entire maps collection cataloged. At this time, most maps of locations outside the United States have been cataloged. We are working on cataloging our collection of thematic maps of the states, moving east to west, and are currently working on maps of Pennsylvania. We hope to keep moving swiftly and plan to (figuratively) cross the Mississippi in 2016 (we have LOTS of maps of Pennsylvania!). Selected special collections (e.g., aerial photography) also still need to be described.

If you have questions about our progress in cataloging our collections, please contact us.


Circulation - What circulates?

  • Most sheet maps circulate unless they are rare or reference materials (e.g., latest CIA maps, latest Pennsylvania USGS sheets, FIMA maps), or are fragile items
  • Most atlases, air photos, and globes circulate
  • Most CD-ROMs circulate
  • Reference materials in any format do not circulate