Monday, May 3, 2010

Introduction to reference: World atlases

Required reading
World Atlas and Dictionary Roundup

Canadian maps and atlases
Required reading

“Atlases and maps of Canada”. School Libraries in Canada 2003 v. 27 no. 3 Available in pdf from Ebscohost Academic Search Premier.

Atlas of Manitoba. Winnipeg: Surveys and Mapping Branch, Dept. of Natural Resources, 1983.

The Atlas of Canada. Toporama.
Online Canadian topographical maps and orthoimages.

Yahoo! Canada Maps
Use to find maps and directions to Canadian destinations. Enter address, intersection, city, province or postal code to find a location, or use driving directions.

Other maps and atlases
MRC Library Internet Subject Guides: Maps
An extensive list of links compiled by Mount Royal College Library in Calgary.

National Atlas of the United States
This atlas updates a large bound collection of paper maps that was published in 1970. It delivers map-like views of America’s natural and sociocultural landscapes.

National Geographic Map Machine,%20-99.71000000000001&z=4
Online atlas created by National Geographic. Maps. Charts everything from physical topography and political leanings to climate and population trends worldwide. You can find street maps for all of the United States, Canada and Europe. The “Flags and Facts” link leads you to detailed profiles of 191 countries, which includes a brief history of each locale, its demographics, economics and politics—and of course, maps. Follow the “World Themes” link to view time zones, transportation density and weather maps. Under “U.S. Themes,” you will find diversity, density and population maps based on Census 2000. The Web site even has a link to an interactive map of Mars.

Place names
Gazetteers: Descriptive

Cambridge World Gazetteer: A Geographical Dictionary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
First published as Chambers World Gazetteer. Fewer but more detailed entries than Webster’s.

Columbia Gazetteer of the World
Updating of 1952 ed. Includes countries, towns, rivers, mountains, national parks, etc. Contains 165,000 entries in 3 volumes, some relatively lengthy.

The Columbia Gazetteer of the North America
50,000 entries. Covers every incorporated place and county in the United States, along with several thousand unincorporated places, special-purpose sites, and physical features, as well as Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names On Line
Contains nearly 1 million place names (including continents, rivers, mountains, empires, nations, states, districts, townships, cities, neighbourhoods, etc.). Global in scope. Provides information on place names related to art, art history and related subjects, such as history archeology, and geography.

Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary. 3rd ed. 1997.
A comprehensive source of geographical, economic, historical and political information. Over 54,000 entries and 250 maps. Information on continents, countries, regions, cities, historical sites and natural features with pronunciations and variant spelling.

World Gazetteer

Online resource. Contains current population figures for cities, towns and places of all countries largest cities of the world images of national flags. Personal site.

Gazetteer of Canada.
Published in parts with a separate volume for each province and territory except Quebec. Lists co-ordinates and provides references to National Topographic Series sheet numbers for both physical features and place names of cities, towns, etc. Concise edition published 1997.

Geographic Names Information System
From U.S. government. Contains information about almost 2 million physical and cultural geographic features in the United States. Also contains information on geographic names in Antarctica.

GEOnet Names Server (GNS)
Provides access to the National Imagery and Mapping Agency’s (NIMA) database of foreign geographic feature names. The database is the official repository of foreign place-name decisions approved by the U.S. board on Geographic Names. Currently, the GNS contains 3.97 million features with 5.5 million names (approximate).

U.S. Gazetteer
Searchable database by name, state abbreviation or zip code. Contains geographic information, maps and census data.

U.K. Names (Ordnance Survey of Great Britain)
Gazetteer of British place names. Links to OS maps.

Place Name Origins
BC Geographical Names
Provides location and topographic map sheet showing the place or feature. Also has an option to do “sounds like” searches. Includes origin notes and history.

Geographical Names of Manitoba. Manitoba Conservation.

Place Names in the Canadian Rockies

Place Names of Manitoba. Penny Ham. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1980.

Place Names Database. Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.
Search for place names in the Northwest Territories. Provides location and topographic map sheet showing the place or feature. A map showing the feature’s location can also be displayed. Includes history/origin of name.

Place Name Sites
Guide to place names sites on the Internet from Arizona State University Libraries Map collection.

Other Map/Atlas Resources – Geography
Includes online maps arranged alphabetically. Includes links to additional geographic resources.

How Far Is It?
This service uses data from the US Census and a supplementary list of cities around the world to find the latitude and longitude of two places, and then calculates the distance between them (as the crow flies). It also provides a map showing the two places.

Map Collections: 1500-2003
From Library of Congress. Extensive collection of digitized maps (mainly historical).

Best known for driving instructions for US and Canada.

Bing Maps
Search for maps and directions for Canada, U.S. and other world destinations.
Europe’s most popular mapping web site, offering a range of free, useful services to assist with everyday life. Key features include street-level maps of the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada and the US; road maps of the world; door-to-door travel directions; aerial photographs; and local information.
Odden’s Bookmarks
Comprehensive listing of cartographic sites. Provides links to over 9,500 map sites.

Perry Castaneda Library Map Collection
Excellent collection of online maps from the University of Texas. Contains about 2,400 maps.

Rand McNally Maps
City maps, driving directions for U.S. directions, etc.

Sample topographical maps for the entire United States. The database is searchable by place name or by latitude and longitude. Complete downloadable USGS maps are available for a fee.

United Nations Cartographic Section Web Site
Maps and geographic resources. Includes peacekeeping maps and country profiles.

Geographical handbooks
Country studies
This website contains the on-line versions of books previously published in hard copy by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under the Country Studies/Area Handbook program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Army. The original intent of the Series’ sponsor was to focus primarily on lesser known areas of the world or regions in which the U.S. forces might be deployed, so the series is not all–inclusive. At present, 102 countries and regions are covered. Notable omissions include Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and other Western nations, as well as a number of African nations.

World Factbook
Comprehensive, official CIA basic intelligence reference guide with reference maps.

Travel Guides
Required Reading

Roncevic, Mirela. “Staying Current with Travel.” Library Journal, 8/15/2003, Vol. 128 Issue 13, p114, 3p. Available fulltext on EBSCOHost Academic Search Premier. Updates articles listed below. Also available online from Library Journal

Supplementary Reading
Roncevic, Mirela. “Have Book Will Travel.” Library Journal. Nov. 15, 2000 pp. 32-36 and “Have Book Will Travel, Part II”. Library Journal Dec. 2000 pp. 78-81. Both are available fulltext on EBSCOHost Academic Search Premier. Rates guide book series.

Publishes Moon Handbooks, Rick Steeves Guides, Foghorn Outdoors.

Dorling Kindersley
Publishes DK’s Eyewitnesses Guides




Publishes the Insight Guides.

Let’s Go

Lonely Planet

National Geographic Traveler

Rough Guides
Text of guidebooks available online at no cost.

Other useful Internet sites for the traveler includes: – Travel
Includes sections on many areas of the world and lists relevant Internet sites.
Competing sites for travel resources on the net, includes info about package destinations, prices, etc. Canadian versions of U.S. sites.


Unknown said...


I am the representative for Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online. Please note the link in your post directs users to Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online, not Columbia Gazetteer of North America. Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online provides 170,000 place names as well as a robust search engine. Also, the link for ALA article for required reading is broken.

John Babcock
Columbia University Press
Electronic Products Representative

Rach said...

Thank you for your comment, John.

I will work on correcting the links for the Columbia titles.

The ALA article is accessible via the Internet Archive at

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