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Maps: Collection Policy

The Map Collection at Perkins Library and sources for online maps and related information.

I. Programmatic Information

A.  Purpose and Goals

To provide a collection of current and 20th century maps, supporting material, and spatial data to support the needs and programs of the University; to provide information about other map collections and resources; to serve as a resource for the community at large, particularly in keeping with the requirements of the Federal Depository Library Program.  The Map Collection is administered by the Map and GIS Librarian.  The first contact for reference service is at the main Perkins Reference desk, with more in-depth service provided by all staff members of the Public Documents and Maps Department, and specialized help provided by the Maps Assistant and the Map and GIS Librarian.

B.   Primary Map Users

Maps are used for instruction, research, travel, recreation, and illustrating reports and publications.  Primary users are students and faculty in earth & ocean sciences, environmental studies, biology, public policy, economics, and history, as well as community members.  Users, however, include those in many other disciplines.  Public policy and economics students and researchers are historically the heaviest users of digital spatial data, although once again, users come from many disciplines.

II. Materials Collected

A.  Geographical Priorities (as budget and space permit, subject to other limitations further below)

  • North Carolina (including Durham):  all available maps, all scales, including county and city maps.
  • Southeastern states: topographic coverage at 1:24,000 and smaller scale; all available statewide thematic maps; road maps of states and major cities; bathymetry at 1:100,000 scale and smaller.
  • Each state of US: topographic coverage at 1:24,000 and smaller scale; key statewide thematic maps (e.g., geology; soils); road maps of states and major cities.
  • USA maps: all available topographic series; bathymetry at 1:250,000 and smaller scale; nationwide thematic maps.
  • World maps: topographic coverage at 1:250,000 and smaller scale;  worldwide thematic maps.
  • Canada:  1:50,000 and smaller scale topographic series; all available countrywide thematic maps.
  • All other countries and regions:  topographic coverage of 1:250,000 and smaller scales as current as possible; bathymetric coverage at 1:500,000 and smaller scale; political or thematic maps of countries and first level administrative divisions (states, provinces, etc.);  travel maps of countries and major cities.  Priority will be given to areas in which Duke has a special interest (e.g., Canada, Europe, portions of Latin America, Japan, South Asia).

B.   Subject scope (may include paper maps or digital files as appropriate)

  • topographic maps to achieve worldwide coverage at 1:250,000 scale to fill in gaps or update U.S. military coverage
  • nautical charts (primarily for coastline information) and aeronautical charts (primarily as a substitute for topographic coverage when otherwise unavailable)
  • bathymetric maps, at scales noted in section on Geographical Priorities

The following categories will generally be collected at smaller scales.

  • political and administrative divisions within countries
  • physical sciences: geology, physiography, soils, environment, resources, etc.
  • socio-economic patterns:  population, land use, etc.
  • transportation systems (including folded road maps and  large-scale street maps)
  • historical events or periods, including appropriate facsimile maps

III. Collection Limitations

A.  Dates

Maps published prior to 1900 are not collected (exceptions are when the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library rejects a pre-1900 map).  Facsimiles are collected.

B.   Language

 English is preferred.  Maps in a country’s native language are acceptable when an English edition is not available (e.g., maps of Russia in Russian).

C.   Format

1.   Paper: Flat (rolled) maps are preferred over folded, except ephemeral travel maps.  Folded “travel” depository maps from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will generally be stored folded, in SuDoc order, rather than flattened.

      2.   Electronic:

a.   Data: Data in common GIS formats (e.g., Shapefiles, ArcInfo Interchange format, GeoTIFF) or ASCII formats are collected on CD-ROM when meeting geographic, subject, and budgetary constraints and when not available for free on the web.  Data may include GIS vector data (boundaries, points, etc.) as well as scanned raster data (e.g., Digital Orthophoto coverages or Digital Raster Graphic files).  Other remote sensing imagery will be considered on a case-by-case basis subject to geographic, topical, and budgetary constraints, as well as the library’s ability to support its use.

b.   Application software: Key software will be supported for the use of data (e.g., ArcGIS).

c.   Electronic atlases: Atlases and other specialized software must be considered carefully and will generally not be purchased unless no alternative exists, since their lifespan is usually very short (e.g., until the next operating system update).  Web alternatives are preferred to locally installed CD-ROMs.  Information Technology Services (ITS) should be consulted to determine whether a product can be installed on local computers.

3.   Atlases and books:

a.   Map Collection Reference: Supplemental materials to support the map collection are acquired, such as gazetteers, selected basic reference atlases, books about maps and mapping, carto-bibliographies, and periodicals.  These are housed in the Map Collection Reference area.

b.   Atlases:  Heavily used atlases are purchased by and housed in the Perkins Reference collection. Lesser used atlases are purchased by the appropriate subject bibliographer and housed in the Perkins stacks.  The Map Collection purchases only selected basic reference atlases (e.g., Times Atlas of the World).  It also houses selected specialized atlases that might be damaged in the stacks, at the request of a subject librarian and by agreement with the Map and GIS Librarian.

c.   Travel guide and pamphlets:  These are accepted as gifts or when received from state DOT’s along with official state highway maps. They will be filed by state, uncataloged, in the “travel” drawer of the vertical file.

4.   Aerial photos:  Only Durham County aerial coverage is collected (10x10 inch prints), as budgets permit.  Digital Orthophoto Quarter Quadrangle (DOQQ) coverage of North Carolina is collected on CD-ROM if not readily available online.

5.   Microforms:  Maps and reference materials on microform will be collected only when a suitable alternative isn’t available in paper or electronically, or to economically fill in gaps in the collection.

6.   Globes:  As with atlases, the Map Collection only needs several globes for basic reference and will not actively collect a comprehensive collection of globes.

D.  Specific exclusions

1.   US nautical charts (National Ocean Service): Coverage of coastlines needed for research at Duke is covered adequately by large-scale topographic maps.

2.   BLM Surface Management & Mineral Management maps: 1:100,000 USGS topographic coverage of these areas is adequate for Duke research.  Land ownership and mineral rights information from the Bureau of Land Management aren’t needed.

3.   Manuscript maps:  When appropriate for its collection, these are taken by the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library (RBMSCL).

4.   Wall maps: These are not actively collected (some old ones in the collection are kept for display purposes or long-term loan to faculty).

IV. Collection Methods

A.  Depository programs

Maps received through depository programs must be processed and housed according to the depository agreements.

1.   Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP): We receive USGS topographic series, USGS folded geological series, NGA nautical and aeronautical charts, FAA aeronautical charts, Forest Service, and miscellaneous federal political and thematic maps (CIA, etc.).  Major exclusions are noted above

2.   Canada:  The depository arrangement began in 1988.  We have received many sheets in the national topographic series, the National Atlas, and general nationwide reference maps, resulting in deep coverage for Canada.  The depository program for non-Canadian depositories, however, was suspended around the year 2000 due to government budget cutbacks.

3.   North Carolina: We get occasional maps through the NC Depository Program administered by the State Library, primarily the annual state Department of Transportation highway map.

4.   European Union: We get occasional maps through our depository arrangement with the EU, primarily small scale reference and thematic maps of the European Union region.

B.   Purchase

A map collection fund is used to supplement depository coverage when necessary to meet geographic and subject needs (see section II).  Major tools for selection include publisher and vendor catalogs, bibliographies, reviews and announcements in periodicals, announcements on email lists (e.g., Maps-L), and requests and recommendations from faculty, students, and subject librarians.  The collection is reviewed periodically for currency and coverage, and gaps filled or revisions made.

C.   PL-480 Program

South Asian cartographic material is selected by the South Asian subject librarian in consultation with the Map and GIS Librarian, paid for through the Library of Congress’s PL-480 program.

D.  Free maps

  • Gifts are accepted and kept or disposed of based on geographic and subject needs.
  • Free maps are solicited when appropriate, such as requesting official state highway maps from State Departments of Transportation.

V. Weeding

Whenever material is weeded from the collection, care must be taken to update all bibliographic access points to reflect removal of the item.  This includes the library catalog, card shelflist, and any online or printed help guides.

A. Superseded FDLP materials

We generally retain old editions of FDLP maps, even if the series is listed in the Superseded List.  Exceptions follow.

1.   1:24,000 7.5-minute USGS topos:  Old editions are discarded for all areas except for maps covering or partially covering North Carolina (these are stamped “old edition” and filed separately from current editions).  Some old editions (40+ years) deemed to show important development changes may be kept at the discretion of the Map & GIS Librarian, stamped “retain permanently.”  Early 7.5-minute topos at the 1:31,680 scale (1 inch = ½ mile) are retained along with all other USGS topographic series, both discontinued and current.

2. NGA (NIMA) nautical and aeronautical charts:  These include the foreign nautical charts and the WNC, JNC, ONC, and TPC series.  Old editions are discarded. 

3. FAA Sectional Aeronautical Charts:  Old editions are discarded.

4. Forest Service maps (both flat and folded):  Old editions are discarded.

B.   Travel file

The uncataloged material in the “travel” drawers of the vertical file should periodically be reviewed for currency.  We should not keep dated material such as calendars of events.  We should keep only the most recent edition of official state travel guides.

C.   Folded travel maps

The uncataloged fold-up travel maps should periodically be reviewed for currency.  Regarding smaller cities, consideration should be given to availability of street maps on the web.  Maps of built-up older central cities should retain value for many years since the streets in these areas are unlikely to change much.  Higher priority should be placed on keeping up to date street maps covering suburban areas and highway maps.  Replacement every several years will suffice.

D.  Other maps as needed

Other paper maps or CD’s may be discarded as deemed appropriate by the Map & GIS Librarian.  Examples are severely damaged maps, additional unneeded copies, CD atlases that no longer run on contemporary operating systems, or material that falls far out of our collecting guidelines (e.g., old wall maps).

VI. Related Collections and Cooperative Arrangements

A. Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collection Library

The RBMSCL collects pre-1900 maps and manuscript maps that fit its collection needs.  The Map Collection will collect post-1900 published maps.

B. UNC-Chapel Hill Latin America agreement

The map collection will consider the Duke/UNC collection agreement relating to Latin America. Duke collects more deeply for the following countries/regions: Mexico; Central America; former or current British and Dutch colonies in the Caribbean; Columbia; Ecuador; Peru; Bolivia; and Brazil. These countries will receive priority over other Latin American countries when building the map collection, filling gaps, and updating coverage

C. TRLN Resources

UNC-Chapel Hill is the local Regional Depository in the FDLP. Its map collection in the Wilson Library receives depository material not selected by Duke and has a policy of keeping superseded material (e.g., old USGS topographic quadrangles).  UNC-CH has many commercial and foreign maps as well.  NC State in Raleigh selects the domestic nautical charts through the FDLP.