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The University of Melbourne Library’s Map Collection includes printed and digital maps of every part of the world and is one of the largest such collections in Australia. It also includes GIS data and aerial photos. This guide is a brief introduction to the collections and services.

The Map Collection holds over 100 000 printed maps and several hundred GIS and digital map datasets. It has particular strengths in the areas of topographic, geological and digital cartography. The collection also includes over 15 000 aerial photographs and 5000 atlases and reference books. Services include advice on map reading, interpretation and use. Computers, scanners (A3 and A4), CD burners, laser printers (colour and b+w), a large format photocopier and a light table are available for use in the Maps Collection.

The scope of the Map Collection is worldwide, with an emphasis on Melbourne and Victoria. A wide variety of historical and current mapping of Australia is held. Other areas of detailed cover include East Asia, South-east Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Central America, and the Pacific region. The collection also contains general and thematic atlases, maps and plans of major cities around the world, and a broad range of map reference works including gazetteers, dictionaries and bibliographies.

Accessing the collection. Much of the Map Collection is catalogued, including all books and digital maps, and many printed copy maps. These can be found in the Library Catalogue at cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au. However, many printed maps are still uncatalogued and users may seek the assistance of Map Collection staff to find maps. Users from outside the University are welcome, but please note that access to digital data may be restricted due to license conditions.


Major Strengths

Some of the major strengths of the Map Collection include: 

Topographic Maps. The collection includes over 700 national and regional topographic printed map series (sets), at scales between 1:1 000 000 and 1:25 000. Coverage of most of the world is held at scales approaching 1:250 000. Coverage of Australia at 1:100 000 or better is held. Online indexes to many of these map series can be found on our Map Series Indexes page.

Geological Maps. The collection includes over 20 000 maps covering geological and geophysical themes, with worldwide coverage. Geological maps of Australia are available at scales between 1:25 000 and 1:250 000. Online indexes to many of these map series can be found on our Map Series Indexes page.

Aerial Photos. Over 15 000 aerial photos are held, mainly of Melbourne, but also of other parts of Victoria. Current, complete and detailed (0.35m pixels) aerial photo coverage of Melbourne and environs is available in digital formats. More information can be found on the Map Collection Aerial Photography guide.

Detailed Maps of Melbourne. Over 10 000 detailed MMBW contour plans of Melbourne and environs are held. More than 6000 aerial photos of Melbourne are also available. Current detailed maps and aerial photos of Melbourne are mostly in digital formats; many of these are listed on the GIS Data and Digital Maps page.

Historical Maps. Over 15 000 maps related to the history of Melbourne and Victoria are held, including historical MMBW plans, parish plans and fire insurance maps. Many of these are in the Library Catalogue.

Land and Soil Reports. A collection of reports on land use and classification for Victorian and Australia are held. These include Land Conservation Council studies, Soil Conservation Authority reports, and CSIRO studies. All of these are in the Library Catalogue.


GIS Data and Digital Maps

The Map Collection includes several hundred GIS and digital map datasets, totalling around 400GB of data. Users can create customised maps in the Map Collection Workroom using the MapInfo GIS. However, many users prefer to copy or borrow data for use elsewhere; most of our data licenses allow copying for research and educational use by University of Melbourne staff and students (only). At certain times during the year these databases are in high demand and so bookings are advised. Contact to Map Collection to make an appointment.

Some online digital maps and data can be accessed via the Digital Maps & Data page.

Many GIS datasets are listed on the GIS Data page.

VicMap. A range of detailed digital maps provided to the University of Melbourne by the Victorian Government (Land Victoria, DSE) under an educational license. Its framework GIS data sets include: Address Points, Administrative (postcode, LGA, electoral, localities, suburbs, parishes), Elevation (contours and DEM), Image (Landsat 7), Hydrography (watercourses and water areas), Property (parcels and properties), Reference, and Transport (road and rail). These and other GIS data are listed on the GIS Data page.

Census data.The CData product contains the results of the Australian Census of Population and Housing, including age, sex, education, income, housing, ethnic background and other themes. Data for anywhere in Australia can be tabulated, thematically mapped and/or exported. CData can be used in the Map Collection.

Data on Demand. While a very wide range of digital map data is held, this is only a small part of the amounts of digital map data available. The Map Collection can also quickly obtain additional data on request from users, particularly from DSE and Geoscience Australia. It also helps users locate other data they may require. Contact Map Collection staff.


Regional Specialties

The scope of the collection is world-wide. Emphasis is however placed on the Melbourne region and the State of Victoria. Other important areas for the collection include East Asia, South-East Asia, the Middle East, the British Isles, Central America, the Pacific region, and Australia itself. 

Melbourne. The collection's greatest strength lies in its maps of the Melbourne region. The resources available include a broad range of large scale cadastral plans, aerial photographs, numerous specialised thematic maps and a broad range of historical materials. Within the Melbourne region particular attention is paid to the Melbourne CBD and the surrounding inner suburbs. For these areas a large number of both original and facsimile historical maps are held, together with an extensive collection of medium scale aerial photographs. 

Victoria. Maps of the state of Victoria include materials dating from the nineteenth century to the present. The collection includes: a variety of topographic map series; aerial photographs of most Victorian towns; maps of administrative boundaries; geological and soil maps; conservation and planning studies; and subdivision plans and goldfield maps. 

Australia. For Australia the collection includes contemporary and historical topographic mapping at scales between 1:50,000 and 1:250,000, together with over 7,000 individual thematic maps covering such themes as land, vegetation and various geophysical themes. Selected data from various Australian government agencies including Geoscience Australia can be retrieved and mapped using Geospatial Information Systems programs.

World. The collection provides comprehensive topographic mapping of the world as a whole and numerous thematic works detailing, for example, political boundaries, vegetation types, geology and soils, language groups and energy resources.


Other Services

Instructional activities. Map Collection staff can provide instructional lectures and seminars, covering a range of matters relating to maps and spatial data. Tours of the Map Collection and its facilities can also be provided on request.

Borrowing and Loans. The Map Collection is a reference collection and maps and books are not for loan. In some circumstances, depending on user needs and the nature of the maps or books required, loans may be considered on a case-by-case basis on application to Map Collection staff. Digital copies of most GIS data and electronic data can only be made by University of Melbourne staff and students. Information about general borrowing from the University of Melbourne Library.

Photocopying facilities. Photocopies can be made on the plan printer using the standard library photocopy card. This produces high quality black and white copies of up to A0 size and in an enlargement / reduction range of 25% to 400%. For copyright and conservation reasons some items cannot be photocopied; in some cases photographic copies are an alternative. For more information about photocopying please visit the library photocopying page.

Fee-for-service copying. If an external user requests that a map be copied and posted out to them, a fee-for-service charge applies. These charges do not apply where a user visits the Map Collection and copies the map in person. For details see the Map Copying Charges brochure.

After hours services. The Map Collection’s general reference books, photocopier and light table may be accessed during Education Resource Centre opening hours. Other after hours services can be arranged with Map Collection staff as required.

Consultancy services. The Section can provide consultancy services on a fee for service basis for both University and private clients. Services offered include production of maps and the retrieval and/or mapping of data from various information products. Further information is available from the Map Curator

Map Collection Opening Hours and Contact Details.

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