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UN Map Collection
UN Map
Thursday 28 February 2019

Topics: Digital Collections

The Dag Hammarskjöld Library has roughly 8000 UN authored maps in its collection. 

This map collection is unique in its scope, relating to the work of the United Nations through the decades. The collection includes general reference and thematic maps, such as regional and country maps, as well as maps about non-self-governing territories, demographics, and peacekeeping operations.  Some rare printed copies are available in the collection, dating back to the earliest years of the United Nations.

To make these striking, one of a kind prints available to the wider public, the Library is carrying out a map digitization project in conjunction with the Geospatial Information Section (GIS) of the United Nations. The project is a unique collaboration between the two departments to unlock and preserve geographic information collected since 1947. In addition to creating digital copies, Library map specialists analyze the map content to create metadata to make each map searchable by subject heading or call number in the United Nations Digital Library.

Maps of Peace Operations

A significant part of the map collection chronicles the deployment of UN peacekeeping and other field missions. These maps give detailed accounts of past and present peacekeeping operations and convey information about important stages as each operation progresses.

Recently digitized maps include those covering peacekeeping operations in the Balkans during the 1990s, the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).  Since the GIS issued maps several times a year during these missions, there is a rich assortment available today with information on political, national and international boundaries as they have changed over time.  One can easily follow the development of a mission from the beginning to its resolution and study border changes, troop deployment, transportation lines, or interim agreements.

Thematic Maps 

Thematic maps give insight into specific topics such as water, trade routes and demographics that have concerned the United Nations over the years. An interesting topic covered by UN cartographers is water as a resource.  There are digitized maps about groundwater, water resources and desalination on hand - particularly from the desert countries of Africa, where water shortage and quality has been an issue.

Other thematic maps describe trade routes, commodities such as iron and copper, or population changes in different parts of the world.

To browse, view or download the scanned maps, visit the UN Digital Library.

Other digitized series include:

Second Floor Reading Room
Second Floor Reading Room (UN Photo)
Thursday 1 March 2018

Topics: Learning, Resources

The Second Floor Reading Room has gone through many transformations since 1961. For decades it was called the Woodrow Wilson Reading Room because it housed the U.S. president’s papers about the League of Nations.  Until 2008, it operated as the UN reference collection for the Library and contained the most consulted UN documents and publications.  It was closed in 2008 to accommodate the media outlets covering the UN during the Capital Master Plan. Construction damaged the ceiling and made it necessary to refurbish the room before it could be used.  It reopened in November 2016 and has been designated as a silent study space primarily for delegates and UN staff.

The Dag Hammarskjold Library was dedicated to the second Secretary-General after his death in 1961. At the time, the Library Building was written up in architectural magazines which described the room in glowing detail:

“All is movement in the slope of the wall and undulating ceiling [of the Reading Room]. The informal planking of the Idaho white pine ceiling and wall contrasts with the dark African wenge wood of the card catalog which follows the sloping line of the wall. The end walls are of Peruvian travertine…” Interiors Magazine, 1963

With the coming of modern information systems, the card catalog is now empty but the room is filled with the passion for learning and creativity so often attributed to the late Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.

Learn more about the history of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library: https://library.un.org/content/our-mandate-history.