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Government Information: Maps: Home

This guide provides map resources from the federal and state government, with an emphasis on serving the Texas State University community

Map Locations at the Alkek Library

The 3rd floor map cases at the Alkek Library have a wide variety of print maps from Soil Surveys across Texas ... to National Forest maps throughout the United States ... to CIA maps of countries around the world.

Atlases are shelved on Range 50 at the south end of the Gov Info unit.  Larger atlases may also be found in the atlas cases and folio shelves to the south and southwest of Range 50.

Maps in Government Information

The core of the Government Information map collection is a set of Texas topographic maps produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Each map has elevation contours: lines that connect locations of equal elevation. When contours are bunched close together, they indicate an area of rapid elevation change, or steep terrain. When the contours are widely spaced, they indicate relatively flat land. The Texas topo maps come in three scales:

  • 1:24,000 (24K) maps, which cover 7.5 minutes of latitude by 7.5 minutes of longitude. Each map is highly detailed and covers an area of approximately 64 square miles.
  • 1:100,000 (100K) maps, which cover 15 minutes of latitude by 30 minutes of longitude (the equivalent of eight 24K maps). Although 100K maps depict a wider area, the contour interval is often larger, giving less detail for any given location.
  • 1:250,000 (250K) maps, which cover 1 degree of latitude by 2 degrees of longitude. While the 250K maps cover an area of approximately 6000 square miles, they provide the least detail for any given location.

To put it in perspective, the distance from Texas State University to I-35 on a 24K map of the San Marcos is about 4 inches. On a 100K map, the distance is 3/4 of an inch, and on a 250K map it's hard to make out at less than 1/4 of an inch.  

Copies of USGS topographic maps throughout the United States can be printed for a small fee at the Alkek One Print Shop to meet the curriculum and research needs of Texas State University students, faculty, and staff.  Most  requests are printed within 24 hours, except on weekends. The newest generation of 24K maps produced by the USGS within the past two years can also be printed. While they do not include the vegetation codes of "traditional" topographic maps, the new generation of topographic maps do include the option to overlay orthographic imagery (satellite pictures) of the terrain.

Last, but not least, when a macro view of Texas topography is needed, the Government Information unit has four 1:500,000 (500K) scale maps of Texas covering the northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest quadrants of the state, and a 1:1,000,000 scale map of the entire state. Measuring in at 54 inches to a side, the maps are too large to keep in the flat map cases, so folded versions are available in the map case area. They're also too large to print, but sections of the maps can be copied on the KIC scanners on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Library.  The resulting images can be printed on standard printers.

U.S. Geological Survey Maps