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Though MSU Libraries remain closed to the public due to COVID-19, we are preparing to welcome students this fall, and we are working on changes inside our Library to welcome people safely. Our goal is to reopen to the public August 24. Until then (and after), we will continue to offer virtual services. Many resources remain available. Please see our Online and Distance Learning resource page for specific Library resources. Reference services are still available via chat and phone. We do have temporary policies for returning/renewing material.

Map Library Blog

This video provides a six-minute overview of MSU Map Library collections and services available during COVID-19 related building shutdowns. ...

This blog post is based on two talks I gave at IASSIST in Austrailia and the Michigan State University Accessible Learning Conference in 2019.

Map Library

The Map Library is located on the 2nd floor of the east wing in the Main Library. It houses the maps and atlases collections.

Map Library
Main Library Building
Michigan State University
366 W. Circle Drive, Room E240
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: (517) 884-6467

Michigan's Legal Boundaries

Michigan-Ohio zigzag border

This online exhibit highlights the evolution of Michigan's legal boundary. Few published maps show Michigan's true boundary which does not stop at the shoreline of the four Great Lakes that encircle it, but extends into them to include almost 40,000 square miles of water, comprising 40% of Michigan's area. Most maps of Michigan show only the upper and lower peninsulas plus a few major islands. The U.S. Geological Survey, however, recognizes 420 named islands in the Great Lakes belonging to Michigan.

Since statehood, eight challenges to the boundary have resulted in adjustments that relinquished territory to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio, but gained territory from Canada.

The Michigan's Legal Boundary exhibit is located on the web.

Return to the Map Library.

On the Grid: 20th Century Transormations in the Roles and Technology of Military Mapping

From the Système Lambert, adopted by the French Army in 1915 to the rise of the digital grid, explore developments in military mapping technology on this scrollable online exhibit.   This digital presentation is based on an exhibit by Kasey Wilson and Tim Kiser that was displayed in the Michigan State University Main Library from May-September 2018. 

Clason Road Map & Atlas Site

Clason's refrence Maps title page

Collectors of Clason state road maps issued between 1923 and 1931 are presented with challenges around determining map publication dates. Unlike Rand McNally and Gousha, the Clason Map Company typically did not place dates or date codes on its products during this period. A systematic review of the maps contained in Clason state road maps, touring atlases, and Green Guides reveal that the road legends and other map symbols varied over the years in systematic ways. This Clason Map website, with content developed by Mark Greaves and Carl Liedholm, represents an attempt at providing a guide to dating these maps.

The Clason Road Map & Atlas Site is available on the Libraries' web site.

Land, Lots and Lore: Cadastral Maps Through Time

1847 map of the Town of Michigan

This exhibit presents several examples of manuscript cadastral maps, historical plat maps, and contemporary GIS-based cadastral resources, showing various methods of presenting property information over time.  It is adapted from a physical exhibit in the MSU Main Library that ran November 2016 through February 2017.

See the online exhibit.​

Exhibit produced by Kathleen Weessies and Tim Kiser

Pirates, Industry and War: British Magazine Maps of the 18th Century

British Magazine Map

Pirates, Industry and War were featured heavily in 18th Century British news.  Monthly topical and current events magazines evolved as a popular publication style at this time to help educated males in a growing Empire keep up with the latest events.  The most prominent and among the earliest was Gentleman’s Magazine, which began as a digest reprinting the best articles from the slew of dailies and weeklies available in London.  Over time it and its many competitors began to offer original content. 

See the Online Exhibit

This website reproduces a variety of maps from the MSU Map Library Collection which appeared in British magazines in the 18th century. 

Footpaths to Freeways

Map of Michigan

This online exhibit traces how roads have been depicted on Michigan maps from the time it was a territory to the present. In addition to maps, it includes photographs, unique short-lived route guides and artifacts. Maps evolved in step with the road system and showed advances such as named roads which were in time replaced with numbered state and federal routes. Publishers include map giants Rand McNally and Gousha who also supplied oil companies with their ubiquitous freely distributed roadmaps.

The Footpaths to Freeways exhibit is located on the web.