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Marx Library Maps/GIS Collection Federal, State, and Local

USA Map Collection

The primary focus of our map collection is the state of Alabama, the states along its borders, and the Gulf Coast. Also included in our collection are world maps, national forest maps, posters, atlases and GIS software.

The majority of our map collection is shelved in the map cabinets, which are divided into several categories. These categories include topographic maps, hydrographic maps, world maps, foreign maps, orthophotoquad, national forests and national parks, United States, state maps, and maps from the Bureau of Land Management. Besides the maps we received from the government we also maintain a collection of maps and posters from National Geographic.  

The largest portion of our collection are topographic maps. These maps come in three varieties: 7.5 minute maps, 15 minute maps and 30x60 minute maps.

  • 7.5 minute maps are 1:24,000 scale.  One inch represents 2,000 feet. They get their name because each map covers a 4-sided area of 7.5 minutes and latitude 7.5 minutes longitude. Since each map is divided into precisely measure quadrangles, adjacent maps can be combined to form a larger map.
  • 15 minute maps use a scale of 1:62,500. One inch represents approximately one mile. We have some older maps in this format. Since 1960, USGS ceased production at this scale.
  • 30x60 minute maps use 1:100,000 scale and are generally in a “landscape” vs. “portrait” format and show more detail than the other two. One inch represents 1.6 miles.

Topographic maps use contour lines to indicate shape and elevation of land and include natural and man-made features to distinguish landmarks.

Our topographic map collection is limited to the Gulf Coast and neighboring states. We have the complete collection of 7.5 minute quadrangle maps from the state of Alabama and keep all editions of Mobile and Baldwin County area maps. We have a limited collection from surrounding states, such as Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee as well as those touching the Gulf Coast including Louisiana and Texas. These maps circulate, with the exception of the most recent edition of Mobile/Baldwin County maps.

Since Mobile is a port city, hydrographic maps and nautical charts also make up another large portion of our collection. They cover the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts from the Gulf of Mexico to Maine as well as the West Indies. These also circulate with the exception of the most recent maps in our area. During hurricane season (June 1 – Nov. 30) the Gulf of Mexico map is used as our hurricane tracking chart. It can be found on the wall next to the southwest stairwell.

Orthophotoquads are 7.5 minute maps, based on black and white aerial photographs. They have minimal cartographic treatment and lack contours. Only a few names and symbols are included on the maps.  Our collection covers a small sample of Alabama quadrangles. These maps do not circulate.

Our national forest collection covers national forests in the United States. Maps come in a variety of sizes, colors and details. The flat national forest maps are shelved in the map cabinets. The 7.5 minute national forest maps are shelved in our Topographic map drawers. Our folded national park maps are shelved in the documents stacks. Maps with barcodes circulate.

CIA maps are mainly small (approx. 8.5”x11”) maps of countries and regions around the world.  These are found in our “Vertical File” (black filing cabinet) next to the CD cabinets. Larger versions of these are found in the Foreign map drawer in the map cabinet. Maps with barcodes may circulate.

We have a limited collection of Bureau of Land Management maps. These are Surface Mineral Management, Mineral Management Status and Desert Access Guides. States covered are Western States: Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho, just to name a few. These maps do not circulate.

The library collects all Alabama soil surveys, along with the soil surveys from counties bordering Alabama from surrounding states. The maps that accompany the text are shelved together in the documents stacks.

Not all maps in our collection are government documents. We have several miscellaneous maps, National Geographic maps, and posters. Our National Geographic collection includes maps and posters printed by National Geographic as supplements to their magazine. Our poster collection contains a combination of posters from the government and posters from other vendors.

Our atlas collection is located on our oversized shelves in the Southwest corner of the department. The collection emphasizes the Gulf Coast Region. The National Atlas of the United States, along with our collection of Geologic Atlases are kept in the Atlas cabinet to the right of our map cabinets. The World Ocean Atlas is located in the microfiche cabinets or on CD-ROM.

***Should you need a map that is not in SOUTHCAT but is in our collection, please let us know. We can get it ready for you to check out –usually the same day.

Government Documents Librarian & Depository Coordinator

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Vicki Tate
Marx Library RM 222
University of South Alabama
5901 USA Dr. N.
Mobile, AL 36688