When one thinks of Maps at NIU, he or she of course thinks of the Map Library in Davis Hall. But, there is a seldom used area of the University Libraries which also holds maps, Rare Books and Special Collections. In order to house centuries old maps in a more secure and climate-controlled environment, the Map special collection was created and library staff transferred antique maps from the Davis Hall Map Library to the new area, mostly around the year 1979. Unfortunately, few people seem to know those maps are there.
In an effort to spread the knowledge of the Map Special Collection at the urging of the Director of the Center for Burma Studies, Dr. Catherine Raymond, there is a new Web page which includes a small sample of digitized maps of Burma and the surrounding region. The maps in this collection are listed in the University Library's online catalog, however, in order to find the maps one must know to search under the phrase "find books." To assist researchers in discovering what maps are in the collection, the page provides instructions on how to search for maps. Although the primary focus of the Webpage is on maps of Burma, instructions should help patrons find maps depicting areas throughout Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.
Most of the Burmese and Southeast Asian maps in the collection were created by European cartographers during the 16th to the 19th centuries. These maps are important to the history of cartography as they help document improvements in the skill, accuracy, and printing technology in mapmaking. Some are navigational, some are decorative. In addition to the antique maps, there are some reference books on historical maps and cartography which may assist a researcher in contextualizing the historical value of the maps in the collection.
Northern Illinois University
The Rare Books and Special
Due to the age and uniqueness of the maps, the maps cannot leave the Reading Room nor can they be sent physically through interlibrary loan. The department is open from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.