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Since 2013, legal deposit has covered material published digitally and online. General information about electronic legal deposit can be found here. Digital map datasets received under the Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013 can be viewed on a dedicated PC in the Map Room via a Viewer known as the Legal Deposit Libraries Geospatial Data Application and Services (GDAS) system. 

The most important content in terms of volume, is annual snapshots of detailed Ordnance Survey mapping of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the deposit of which pre-dates the 2013 regulations ; see below). In 2017, the Viewer was upgraded by the developers, thinkWhere, to allow other datasets to be viewed in addition to the original Ordnance Survey datasets. These additional datasets include maps from the GeoInformation Group and the XYZ Digital Map Co. Other digital map publications will be added on an ongoing basis.


Great Britain

Since 1998 Ordnance Survey of Great Britain (OS) has voluntarily deposited an annual snapshot of its large scale map data (scales of 1:1,250, 1:2,500 and 1:10,000) in the six Legal Deposit Libraries (British Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, Bodleian Library Oxford, Cambridge University Library and Trinity College Dublin).

From 1998 to 2005 we received the map data in the OS Land-Line® data format which is structured around 'tiles' (squares of varying extent, similar to conventional map sheets). Since 2006, however, we have received it in OS MasterMap® (OSMM) data format which is based on features (buildings, roads, railways, etc. ; also see the real-world object catalogue (12 Mb PDF) which lists every type of real-world object in OS MasterMap Topography Layer specifications and details how it is represented by Topography Layer features). These features have date information recorded for them allowing a more specific record of landscape change and they can also be coloured to create a more intuitive and clearer map. The OS Terrain 5® dataset provides contour lines and height information from the 2014 snapshot onwards (contours at 5m intervals), with contour and height information for earlier years provided by LandForm PROFILE (contours every 50m). The Address and Imagery layers of OSMM are not deposited.

The Ordnance Survey map data provides comprehensive map coverage at the largest, most detailed scales available:

  • 1:1,250 for urban areas (approximately all towns with more than 4,000 people)
  • 1:2,500 for smaller villages and all cultivated rural areas
  • 1:10,000 for moorland and upland areas

Northern Ireland

Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland (OSNI) also voluntarily deposits snapshots of its large scale data. The first year deposited is 2004.


From a dedicated PC in the Map Room it is possible to view these detailed maps on screen and to take a limited number of printouts for non-commercial private research purposes.

It is possible to search for an area in three ways:

  • by zoomable map 
  • gazetteer of place names, street names and postcodes
  • grid reference

It is also possible to compare two maps of different dates side by side, to zoom and pan, to turn contours and grid lines on or off and to measure distances.

Colour printouts are of A4 size (on A3 paper) and cost £1 each. They can be centred on any location with portrait or landscape orientation and you can add your own title. The prints must be for private or non-commercial purposes.

Although contours can be viewed at any scale they can only be printed at 1:10,000.


These maps are protected by the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. Breaching copyright law is an offence. You may not make any digital copies. You are legally responsible for any printed copies made.

Under this legislation, the following limits on printed copies are applicable:

  • A maximum of four copies of the same map extract, with each individual copy no larger than 625 sq cm (A4) size
  • copies are only permitted for the purposes of non-commercial research or private study, criticism or review or reporting current events, parliamentary or judicial proceedings or a Royal Commission or statutory inquiry and will not be used for any other purpose;
  • in relation to a copy of relevant material required for the purposes of non-commercial research or private study, the deposit library is satisfied that the requirement of the person requiring the copy is not related and similar to that of another person.


Further information can be found on the following web pages:

Cambridge University Library Readers' Newsletter (April 2008). See the last five paragraphs of this article on the newly refurbished Map Room.

National Library of Scotland Map Library:

thinkWhere (developers of the Map viewer used from January 2014):  See article in GeoConnexion July/August 2017 Preserving a digital heritage

Dotted Eyes (the developers of the Map Viewer used up to the end of 2013): (now called Field Dynamics)



Cambridge University students or staff who require maps of a large area or who wish to use map data in some other software (e.g. a Geographical Information System, GIS) might find that Digimap is more appropriate. Digimap includes the data for the current year only, plus some more historical maps (mostly County Series OS maps) and does not include maps of Northern Ireland. Use of Digimap is free to staff and students of the University but users must register.



Opening Times

Map Room Opening Times

Monday to Thursday 9am to 12:45pm and 2pm to 5:10pm
Friday 9am to 12:45pm and 2pm to 4:50pm 

i.e., we are closed lunch time, in the evenings and on Saturdays. However, given sufficient notice, we may be able to transfer Map Department items to the Rare Books Reading Room for consultation during these closed periods. 

Remember: Pencils only in the Map Room and No food or drink!

Where to Find Us

Library Floorplan

The Map Room - the Map Department's Reading Room - is on the first floor of the Library at the far end of the North Gallery. At the top of the stairs from the Library's Entrance Hall, turn right and the Map Room is at the end of the corridor. 

We are very close to the Tea Room.

Contact us

Map Department 
Cambridge University Library 
West Road 
CB3 9DR 


+44 (0) 1223 333041
+44 (0) 1223 333042
Our LibGuide may help with some enquiries