Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Maps & Atlases: Home

A guide to the physical and electronic map resources available in Murphy Library


Murphy Library has a wide variety of maps and atlases available. They are located in either the Reference area (see picture below), or the maproom in the library's basement.  Whether you are mapping the spread of a religion (for example, Judaism), wish to find specific topographical features (check out the maps available in our map room (or click on the Map Room tab in this guide), or are just trying to plan a road trip (a road atlas might be of use), there are many resources to help you out.  Atlases upstairs in the over-sized collection may be checked out like regular books.  The map room page on this guide has much more  information on that specific room downstairs in the basement.

Pictured below are very large flat atlases located behind Reference book section on main floor.  The titles would look like this in the card catalog: UW La Crosse Murphy Library Reference Atlas.


Materials in Temporary Storage

Due to flooding events, the basement of Murphy Library is currently closed.

Government Documents collections housed in the basement, including Federal government documents, Wisconsin government documents, and the Map Room Map Collection, are currently in storage and not available for use.

We currently estimate that the government documents collections will become available again around March 2022, when repairs to the basement are estimated to be completed.

The library's first and second floor remain open, and government documents held on microform remain available.

The library remains open to the public for access to online government information, and librarians remain available to assist with accessing and using government information sources.

Maps and location of map room in basement

A map is a representation of an area that shows physical features such as roads, hills, rooms, etc. They are more useful than atlases if only a quick overview is desired, or single feature or place is being examined. For example, here's Murphy Library. Note the location of the map room in the basement, room 17.

Special Collections

Special Collections collects, preserves, and provides access to materials that due to their physical or intellectual properties require special handling and care. Types of records housed in this section of the library include rare books, regional and Wisconsin history books, fine-press publications, maps, oral history recordings and transcripts, university archives, and a large historic photograph collection.


What is an atlas?  An atlas (another source of information if you are using maps to research or study a particular place) is a collection of various maps, typically of Earth or a region of earth, but there are atlases of the planets in the solar system, and atlases of anatomy.  Traditionally bound into book form, many forms of atlases can also be accessed online, and the maps can show not only geographic features, but can also be on subject matter dealing with the environment, politics, religions, economic and social statistics, and historical events.  There are also road maps, digital maps, fire insurance maps, tourist maps, zoning maps, pictorial maps, and oceanography maps.

While we have a variety of atlases around the library, pages in this guide focus on the maps housed in on the first floor reference area and atlas cases directly behind the reference books.  The page on this guide called Map Room will have more information about the room downstairs in the basement that houses a substantial number of actual maps which can be checked out.