Map Library

  • Sanborn Map of LA Plaza

    Oviatt Library Map Collection

  • Topo map of Zelzah
  • Panorama of Sanborn Research Room
  • Image of San Francisco topo map
  • Map of Mexico
  • Street Map of Pacoima
  • Title Insurance Map
  • World Wonders 1939 Map

About the Map Library

Overview

The Map Library at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) holds a research-level collection of approximately 400,000 historical and government maps, aerial photographs, Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlases, and geospatial data that support research on campus. While holdings are international in scope, the collection emphasizes Western Americana, particularly maps of California, Los Angeles County, and the San Fernando Valley. Patrons can find primary and secondary resources like historical road and tourist maps, planning and zoning maps, topographic maps, geologic and bathymetric maps, WWII maps from the Army Map Service, and maps from other federal agencies like the USGS, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. National Park Service. The Map Library also contains one of the premier collections of Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlases in the country, including more than 4,000 volumes of detailed survey maps from locations throughout the western United States.

The Map Library is a comprehensive service point whose staff provides subject expertise in cartographic resources, general and complex reference services, GIS research & technical support, and map cataloging. The Map Library Reading Room (Sierra Hall 171) is an open study space available to all patrons and includes a scholarly collection of books and atlases available for browsing only. If you have research questions or inquiries related to cartographic resources, GIS, ArcMap, or using maps as primary resources, please come by our Reading Room to speak with a staff member today.

Map Library History

The Map Library was established in 1958 by Dr. Robert Lamb within the Geography Department at CSUN, then known as Valley State College. Recognizing the instructional value of maps to geographers and cartographers, Dr. Lamb created the Map Library to support student and faculty research within the department. The Map Curator position was also created to manage the maps and provide access to and research support for the department’s rapidly-growing cartographic collections. The Map Library became a depository for the Army Map Service (AMS) in 1958, and AMS maps represented some of the Map Library’s first cartographic holdings. Holdings expanded significantly when graduate student Ken Kearsley conducted an internship at the Library of Congress in 1959 and negotiated the acquisition of a large collection of duplicate California fire insurance maps. In 1962, the Map Library became a depository library for U.S. Geological Survey resulting in the deposit of tens of thousands of topographic maps over the next several decades. In addition to deposits and acquisitions, the collection has also grown over the years through generous donations and gifts from faculty and individuals in the community.  

Vincent Mazzuchelli served as the library’s first Map Curator from 1958-1960 before becoming a faculty member in the fall of 1960. Wallace “Sarge” St. Clair, served as Map Curator to the collection from 1965-1970. Gary Rees served as Map Curator from 1970-1975. Michael Swift served as Map Curator from 1976-2005. Swift brought the Map Library into the computer age when he secured one of the department’s first computers in order to begin cataloging resources in an electronic database. Kris Tacsik, who had served as Assistant Map Curator from 1983-2005, then served as Map Curator from 2005-2014. Tacsik helped modernize the Map Library by introducing new technologies and equipment into the Map Library allowing patrons to digitize and print maps. Chris Salvano has served as Map Curator since 2015. 

The Map Library was originally located in the old Fine Arts building in the early 1960s (since demolished) and was moved into Sierra Hall in 1963. In 1993, the Map Library, overflowing with maps and equipment, expanded into two new larger spaces in Sierra Hall where it has resided ever since. In September 2017, administration and oversight of the Map Library was transferred to the main Oviatt Library. Beginning in January 2019, the Map Library’s collections and staff will relocate into a new space in the Oviatt Library where it will continue to provide cartographic and GIS research support for faculty and students into the 21st century.