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Digital Maps: Search

Brainstorming Keywords

  • Start with specific geographic keywords and move to more general ones, as needed. For example, start with "Boulder" then move to "Boulder County", "Front Range", or "Colorado" if the previous term doesn't return enough results.
  • Add the words "map" or "atlas" to your search.
  • Consider using a gazetteer to determine if a place you are searching for on a map has historically had a different name.
  • Use an asterisk (*) to match zero or more characters within a word or at the end of a word. For example, searching for "environment*" will return results with the words "environment", "environments", "environmental", etc. 

Using Gazetteers

A gazetteer is a place name dictionary or index. You can use a gazetteer to search the history of a place. This is particularly helpful for learning about places whose names or boundaries have changed over time. If a place name has changed over time, you can incorporate its other names in your search.

Using OneSearch

What is OneSearch?

OneSearch includes all of the records in the CU-Boulder catalog, our institutional repository (CU Scholar), most of our digital collections, and most of the articles and databases we subscribe to. You can search OneSearch from the Libraries' website. Because OneSearch allows you to search all formats at once, you will need to limit your results to find maps accessible online.

OneSearch facets for finding online maps


Content Type

Use this facet on the results page to limit to maps as a content type. To find this option, click on "More..." at the bottom of the list.Then scroll down to select "Map." Finally, click on the "Apply" button in the top right corner of the pop-out box.


Library Location

To find maps via OneSearch that are available online, click on "Library Location." Then select "Internet Access." 



OneSearch also allows for the use of wildcards:

  • Use an asterisk (*) to match zero or more characters within a word or at the end of a word. For example, searching for "environment*" will return results with the words "environment", "environments", "environmental", etc. 
  • Use a question mark (?) to match any one character. For example, "Ols?n" will return results such as "Olsen", "Olson", or "Olsin". This can be helpful if you're not sure the spelling of a map's creator.



Results in OneSearch may be sorted by publication date. This may be different than the date the map is showing. 

Searching Google Images

Searching Google Images can be a great way to find maps. Search for your place of interest plus "map" or "maps". Choose a facet from the buttons across the top of the search results to find maps of specific locations or maps with various themes. For example, this is a screen shot of the results for a Google Image search for "Brazil maps".

Using Government Websites

  • If you want a map published by the US Government, add the phrase "" to the end of your keyword search (e.g., "Canada map").
  • If you want a map published by another country's government, add the limiter for searching that government's top-level domain after your keyword search. For example, to find a map of India published by the Spanish Government, search: "India map". (List of domestic and international government domains)
  • Think: Who cares? What agency might create a map your are interested in finding? Think of agencies tasked with working on a specific subject or geographic area (e.g., USGS, US Census Bureau).

Using CU-Boulder Digital Map Collections

The Earth Sciences & Map Library has four digital map collections. More information on each collection can be found on the pages linked below. 

Click on "Category Pages" to see smaller subsets of these digital collections. Images may be saved or downloaded from the digital collection site.

For assistance accessing these collections or to view these maps in print at the Earth Sciences & Map Library, please email or call 303-492-7578 to schedule an appointment.

Ask A Map Librarian

Call (303) 492-7578


More about the Map Collection


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Map Collection
2200 Colorado Avenue
Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 492-7578