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An important role of the USGS Library is the preservation of its unique physical collections, ensuring continued access for future generations. With materials dating back to the 16th century, the volumes, maps, historical photos, and field records provide comprehensive and essential support to USGS employees and the broader community and are accessed by thousands of researchers each year. The USGS Library collections provide timely, evidence-based, peer-reviewed, and foundational information on critical topics impacting national safety and prosperity.

Map Collections

The Denver and Reston libraries have broad collections of maps covering domestic and foreign areas. The Menlo Park library maintains maps of California. Staff can provide information or referral on a variety of cartographic topics.

USGS Topographic Maps

These maps date from the early 1880's to the present.

Denver – All states (Current & historical)
Menlo Park – California (Current & historical)
Reston – All states (Current & historical)

USGS Series Maps

Denver, Menlo Park, and Reston – All

Non-USGS Maps – All four libraries have collections of maps published by other mapping organizations, both domestic and foreign. The maps deal with subjects represented in the book collection. In general, the USGS Library does not collect detailed topographic maps of areas outside North America.

Related Materials – In addition to maps, the USGS Library collects atlases, gazetteers, map catalogs, indexes, and other materials related to maps and mapping. Contact the library closest to you for more information.

Field Records Collection — Denver, Colorado

The Field Records Collection is an archive of field notes, maps, sample analysis reports, correspondence, manuscripts, and other data created or collected by USGS scientists during geologic field investigations and other project work. The majority of the collection dates from 1879 and relates to work done in the contiguous United States and Hawaii. Field records and project archives for Alaska are kept in the Alaska Technical Data Unit Field Records Archive.

USGS Photographic Collection — Denver, Colorado

The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) Library Photographic Collection is an archive of more than 500,000 still photographs, color transparencies, negatives, glass plate negatives, lantern slides and sketches and color transparencies taken during geologic studies of the United States and its territories from 1868 to present. Subjects include earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, topography, historical mining operations, earth science and a substantial collection of USGS personnel portraits. Photographs of some pioneer photographers to include William Henry Jackson, T. H. O'Sullivan, J. K. Hillers, A. J. Russell, E. O. Beaman, E. C. LaRue and William Bell are included in this archive. Some photographs have been used in USGS publications, but most have never been published. Currently, the USGS Library Photographic Collection website provides online access to less than ten percent of the entire archive.

Kunz Collection — Reston, Virginia

Acquired by the Library in 1933, the George F. Kunz Collection is a significant special collection on gems and minerals including rare books on gemology, the folklore of gemstones through history, lapidary arts and archival gem trade records important to the provenance of named stones such as the "Hope Diamond." Kunz was a former USGS employee, a vice-president of Tiffany & Co., and one of the world’s preeminent gem experts.

Rare Book Collection — Reston, Virginia

The Rare Book Collection of the USGS Library is comprised of unusual publications, rare books, and maps collected since 1879. Included are historical maps and publications of the Survey, as well as early publications of many federal, state and other geological surveys. Records of select geological societies are also maintained in the collection, such as the Geological Society of Washington, which was founded by John Wesley Powell and other noted scientists after the Civil War. Of special note are many 19th century maps with topics such as American political boundaries, transportation, geology, and mining.

Topographic Map Archive — Reston, Virginia

Responsibility for the Topographic Map Archive was formally transferred to the USGS Library in March 2003. The Archive includes each U.S. state and territory, in all scales, editions and various printings. With coverage dating from the 1880’s when the USGS began publishing standard topographic quadrangles; the Archive is the most complete collection of USGS topographic maps.