Frequently Asked Questions

What hours are the Map Center open for public reference?

The Map Center staff is generally available from 10 am to 5 pm Monday through Wednesday and Friday, and from 10 am to 7 pm on Thursdays. In order to provide you with the highest level of efficient service, it is best to schedule an appointment to examine materials from the collection. For general reference inquiries or to schedule an appointment, you may communicate with us by email ( or telephone (617-859-2387). For more specialized reference questions, please contact Evan Thornberry, Cartographic Reference and Preservation Librarian, Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, at or telephone at 617-859-2140.

How can I get started in conducting geographic reference involving maps and atlases when Map Center staff is not available?

The Social Science Department (located in the north alcove adjacent to the Bates Reading Room in the McKim building) is staffed to answer questions about current geographical locations, especially in Boston and Massachusetts, as well as historical/genealogical questions pertaining to Boston and vicinity. If they are unable to answer your question, they may refer you to Government Documents (for maps recently published by the Federal government) or Microtext (for microfilm copies of Sanborn insurance maps for New England from the late 19th to mid-20th century). If you do not find the information you seek in these departments please schedule an appointment with the Map Center.

How do I obtain permission to reproduce images from your website?

It is possible to download images (including moderate and high .jpeg resolution) from our website for use in school papers, research projects, or power point presentations. We request that you acknowledge the source with the tag line: "Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library."

In order to obtain higher quality TIFF images for reproduction in an academic publication or project, please email us at and we will send you a request form.

How may I order a high quality reproduction for non-commercial purposes?

Patrons can order map reproductions of all maps on the Leventhal Map Center website, that were printed prior to 1923.

Are all of your maps and atlases cataloged?

We are in the process of conserving, cataloging and digitizing the historical maps that are part of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center. As maps and atlases are cataloged, all bibliographic records can be accessed through the Boston Public Library's online catalog. In addition, most of the historical maps (non-copyrighted) are being scanned and can be accessed through the Digital Collection portion of our website. New map images are added to digital collection regularly.

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (