University of Hawaii at Manoa Library


Maps, Aerial Photographs, and Geographical Information Systems (Manoa MAGIS)


MAGIS houses and services maps and geographic data received on deposit from the U.S. Government Printing Office, through the National Program for Acquisitions and Cataloging (NPAC) and the Special Foreign Currency Program (PL480); maps which are part of the Hawaiian, Pacific, and Asia collections; and maps which have been acquired by those disciplines whose patrons require maps for their teaching and research, primarily geography, urban and regional planning, geology, history, and anthropology. We also have made small purchases of GIS data and Aerial Photographs.

In addition, the collection provides maps, aerial photographs and GIS data for scholars at the East-West Center, private planners, staff of state and federal agencies, and the public at large.


Sheet maps, digital data, and general cartographic and GIS assistance are available in MAGIS; atlases, gazetteers, books on geography, cartography, remote sensing, statistical materials and the like are selected and housed in the general and area collections. Some reference atlases and gazetteers are also duplicated in the MAGIS collections.

On campus, the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics (HIG) has a map collection focusing on marine geology and marine geophysics. The School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology also serves out geographic data, including aerial photography.

Off campus, the following libraries have map collections: the Bishop Museum has an extensive Hawaii and Pacific map collection including aerial photos of Micronesia and Melanesia; the State Archives is the depository for maps issued by state offices; the State Survey Office, the main mapmaking office of the state government, has an extensive collection of maps and surveys done in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center has images and cartographic products from NASA.

MAGIS currently houses approximately 130,000 sheet and folded maps, 86,000 aerial photographs, 7,000 digital aerial photographs, and various other sub-collections of other formats such as road maps, wall maps, etc.


Language: Most of the maps are in English, with some others in Japanese, French, German, Spanish, Indonesian, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Sanskrit.

Chronological: No limitations. The majority of the collection dates from World War II to the present, with a small percentage dated earlier. Emphasis is on current publications, except for Hawaii and Pacific where the objective is comprehensive coverage; acquisition is done by the area collections. The collection includes a rare maps section of approximately 250 maps of Asia and the Pacific from 1540 through the 19th century.

Geographic: World-wide, but the emphasis is on Hawaii, the Pacific, and Asia.

Date of Publication: No limitations, but the emphasis is on current imprints.

Types and Formats of Materials Collected: Sheet, folded and rolled maps and charts; aerial photographs; atlases, raster, vector and textual GIS data.

Electronic Format:

Treatment: Maps are mainly topographic; for Hawaii and the Pacific, the aim is more comprehensive, including also thematic maps of geology, vegetation, soils, climate, bathymetry, ethnolinguistic groups, population, etc. Aerial photographs cover Hawaii, Japan, and parts of Southeast Asia and the western Pacific, including the former Trust Territory of the Pacific. There is world coverage of nautical and aeronautical charts.


In 1986, the Hamilton Library Map Collection became a state affiliate of the National Cartographic Information Center, now Earth Science Information Center (ESIC). ESIC was established by the U.S. Geological Survey to serve as the public's primary source for information concerning the availability of cartographic, geographic, and remotely sensed data. State affiliates provide this information through microform and printed indexes provided by ESIC. Additionally, state affiliates canvass their local governments, libraries, and private enterprises to identify the availability of cartographic material within their state.


Collection strengths include complete coverage of the United States and its territories in large-scale topographic mapping, along with adequate coverage of the Pacific and Hawaii. The Manoa campus is the Regional Depository for all maps products issued through the United States federal distribution program, administered by the Government Printing Office, or, in some cases, the mapping agencies involved. Being on the distribution program has allowed the library to have excellent coverage of large-scale topographic maps and nautical charts of the United States.

U.S. Geological Survey

National Ocean Survey

Defense Mapping Agency

Central Intelligence Agency

Forest Service

National Park Service

Army Map Service

Other Major Surveys

Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH) and the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA).

Directorate of Overseas Survey, Great Britain (DOS)

Road Map file

The collection of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) large-scale topographic maps is the largest and most complete series. Being a depository collection is advantageous since collection development does not suffer from cancellations or funding cuts.

Additional collection strengths include adequate coverage of Western Europe and Asia (especially from the Army Map Service); good collection of nautical charts for domestic and foreign waters; extensive collection of U.S. naval photographs for parts of the western Pacific and Southeast Asia.

Weaknesses in the collection's holdings exist in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and eastern Canada. Researchers at Manoa are often interested in the lower latitudes outside the Pacific area for comparative studies; needed are maps of the tropical belt that includes Latin America, Central America, South America, and South Asia.

Although the Pacific and Southeast Asia coverage is fairly adequate, there is an ongoing need to obtain up-to-date large scale mapping of these areas. More thematic maps are also needed. Efforts to correct deficiencies are constant.

There are several acquisitions problems for these geographic areas. Political changes and instability exist in these regions, and their governments do not release map products, or release them only in limited quantities. Bureaucratic communication results in inquiries not answered at all or answered incompletely or unhelpfully.

Eighty-five percent of MAGIS acquisitions come through the G.P.O. regional depository program. Additional maps are acquired through gifts and exchange, the National Program for Acquisition and Cataloging (NPAC), and the Special Foreign Currency Program. There is a small budget for filling gaps, for replacement issues, and for reference tools.

Compiled by: G. Salim Mohammed
Date: August 2008

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