Collections of the Washington State Library
Maps in the Washington State Library Collections
The State Library has many maps, which are found in our rare, northwest, federal publications and state publication collections. Not all our maps are in our catalog yet. We are actively working on a project to add them. You can search our catalog for maps by highlighting the circle beside Map Collections before beginning your search.
Historical Map Collection
This digital collection includes maps from both the Library and the State Archives and covers the history of Washington from early exploration (1794) to modern times.
The State Library has a collection of Metsker atlases for each Washington County. They are available for on site use only. All of the Metsker maps are listed in our online catalog.
Rare Maps Collection of the Washington State Library
Many of the Library's Rare Maps have been scanned, and are available in our digital Historical Map Collection.
Dating from 1884 through the 1950s, the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps offer building details about commercial, industrial, and residential sections of cities and towns. The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. has digitized pre-1923 Sanborn maps in color; click here to see Washington maps available on the Library of Congress website. Washington Sanborn maps are also on microfilm (in black and white) here at the Washington State Library and must be viewed in the library.
The State Library has a large collection of federal topographic maps issued by the U.S. Geological Survey. You can browse the collection in our catalog, or do a keyword search for the place name along with the word topographic. This collection does not circulate, and unfortunately, library staff is unable to undertake map research on behalf of patrons. An ever-increasing number of Historic topographic maps are being added to the USGS, National Map web resource.
National Forest, Park and Trail Maps
Find information about the recreational uses, trails, roads, streams, lakes, visitor centers, facilities available, campgrounds and picnic areas on maps produced by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service. Search our catalog for maps of the area(s) you're interested in. The maps are available for in-library use only, but they are also for sale on the Public Lands Information Center website and some may be available free from the Forest Service website.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) produces and maintains a suite of nautical charts that cover the coastal waters of the U.S. and its territories. The State Library has a collection of the Washington coast nautical charts. You can look for the chart(s) you need in our catalog. The charts are available for in-library use only, but NOAA also offers all their nautical charts on their website. You can use the interactive map here to locate a specific digital chart for the coastal waters of interest to you.
*Check out our Washington State Research page for other Washington State map web sites*
Since its inception, the Washington State Library has preserved and provided access to a comprehensive collection of information on the geographic area we now know as Washington State and the other identified regions of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon, Idaho, and Western Montana.
The collection also contains works on Alaska, British Columbia and the Yukon Territory to reflect our shared histories.
The Northwest Collection deals with diverse formats: printed books, periodicals and newspapers; maps, microfilm and fiche, sound recordings, and video recordings on a wide range of subjects: history, education, ethnic groups, geology, geography, environment, individuals, plants, animals, counties, cities, transportation, sports, and the arts.
Our collection’s scope tends towards popular rather than technical works. Time periods covered are from pre-written history through Oregon and Washington Territorial eras, then Statehood into the present day. The special focus of the Northwest collection is history, with an emphasis on the history of Washington territorial and state governments.
We also collect Northwest fiction and regionally-themed works by Northwest authors for readers of all ages.
All items in the Northwest collection are listed in our catalog.
You can search just the Northwest Collection alone, by clicking in the circle beside
Northwest Collection on the catalog page.