The National Library of Scotland (NLS) and MapTiler have been cooperating for several years making the NLS map collection - one of the largest cartographic collections in the world - available online to everyone in the world. This article shows what you can find in the NLS map collection and how to work with maps that are available online through the MapTiler Cloud platform.
Starting from April 1st, 2022, all maps are hosted in MapTiler Cloud. To access the maps, you should create a user account, only then you will be able to view the maps and implement them in your projects.
About the National Library of Scotland (NLS)
The National Library of Scotland (NLS) is the legal deposit library of Scotland. It is one of the largest libraries in the United Kingdom and it is a member of Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL). There are over 24 million items stored at the Library in various formats including maps, books, first drafts, annotated manuscripts, photographs, postcards, and newspapers.
The National Library of Scotland holds over two million cartographic items, making it the largest collection of maps in Scotland and one of the largest in the world. There are several separate collections of maps within the library's holdings, namely the Bartholomew Archive and the Graham Brown Collection. At the library, there are maps relating to many different kinds of landscapes, such as estates, counties, railways, maps that show the trenches of World War I, and alpine areas.
The Map Collection of the National Library of Scotland (NLS)
For direct access to the Map Collection of NLS go to the NLS map collection page. This is where you can find the collection of maps, recent additions, collaborative projects, inquiries and copies, and the historic maps API.
The NLS map collection holds:
- Over 1 500,000 sheet maps
- 100,000 maps on microfilm
- More than 200,000 digital maps
- Map ephemera
- 15,000 atlases
- Gazetteers, cartographic reference books, and periodicals
The Bartholomew Archive is a magnificent map collection that the Library received in 1995 from the Bartholomew family in memory of Scottish cartographer John Bartholomew (1890 - 1962). The archive provides a vast amount of information about the Edinburgh-based firm of map engravers, printers, and publishers, John Bartholomew and Son Ltd. It is one of the most extensive cartographic archives available for research in a public institution.
Board of Ordnance collection
The Library manages near to 400 military maps and plans that were prepared by the Board of Ordnance in the 18th century for government troops during the Jacobite period. Within the collection are maps of routes, fortifications, and Highland towns. The items in the collections were donated to the library in the 1930s by a government department descended from the Board.
The Stevenson Collection is a holding of 19th and 20th-century manuscripts and printed maps, drawings, and building plans from the Stevenson family, a Scottish engineering family who specialized in building lighthouses, harbors, and other civil engineering works. The collection mostly covers their work in the United Kingdom, although there are some works concerning Japan and New Zealand, as well as several other countries.
MapTiler Cloud API for NLS Maps
A decade or more ago, a curious scholar could just browse the map archives and use the information from the maps indirectly in various applications. Recently, the Historic Maps API made it possible to implement historic maps in user-made applications or build custom mashups using historic and modern data combined together. NLS maps and MapTiler made it possible for programmers, web developers, and modern cartographers to work with fully georeferenced and always available historic maps collected over millennia.
Tips & Tricks for working with MapTiler Cloud maps
MapTiler Cloud provides many default maps and map styles, created for you to work with. On top of that, there are countless possibilities for user customization for each individual map style. If you want to learn more about working with MapTiler Cloud in general, this documentation page is the best place to start.
Build a mashup at the top of your historical data
The historic map can be used as a background map for your own data. You can place markers on top of it, or implement any functionality you want. To use an NLS map in your mashups based on these tools you should include the historic maps API in your webpage. You can find it here in the section called "The United Kingdom".
How to embed the historic map in your website
The easiest way of embedding the historical map in your website is to use an iFrame. It is a tool simple to use and you can do some modifications to it as well. Just remember, you are going to need a MapTiler Cloud API key, which is accessible in the MapTiler Cloud administration.
Feel free to try the example below:
How to embed the historic map in a mashup
United Kingdom road map in MapTiler Cloud (down in the UK section).
Each example is featured with a sample of code and a set of instruction on how to use it. On top of that, you get a direct link to an API reference for each library.
To use raster tiles with TileJSON or XYZ:
With MapTiler Cloud you can create a custom mashup online while using custom and publicly available data sources. Check out this tutorial and learn how to edit a map style and add new custom datasets on top of it.
The cooperation of MapTiler and the National Library of Scotland brings digitized historic maps from one of the greatest map archives in the world to the general public. Each subscriber can view and implement these maps using MapTiler Cloud and use them in their applications and web presentations.