Are you a hiker, tracker, or hunter? If so, you've probably used United States Geological Survey (USGS) maps in your outdoor activities.
They are nice, big maps showing lots of topographical detail, physical characteristics of the land, and the names of roads and communities and bodies of water. Sometimes they're called "topo maps," "7.5 minute maps" or "7.5 minute quadrangles" (because they show 7.5 minutes of lattitude/longitude). You can visit Central Library's map room (on the third floor) and consult the library's collection of historical USGS maps of Oregon, Washington and California.
The newest USGS topographical maps (published 2009 or later) are created to be used in a digital environment, though it is also possible to print them out. If you want your own paper copy of a new map and you don't want to print it yourself, you can usually buy them in outdoor-oriented sporting goods stores.
But did you know that the entire collection of USGS maps, for the whole country, are now available free online? Here's how to get to the USGS topo maps online:
Start at the Map Locator & Downloader.
This tool allows you to find maps with a simple search for a place name. For example, if you are looking for maps of the area near Waldport on the Oregon Coast, just type waldport into the search box and then either hit the "enter" key, or click on the name "Waldport, Oregon" when it pops up.
Now you'll see a map of the Waldport area. There is a marker in the part of the grid marked "Waldport," with a little popup box next to it. Click on the "View Products" button to see the maps that are available for that spot.
You'll see a variety of maps in the popup list -- new maps, older maps, and maps that cover at different scales. To download a nice, high-definition pdf of the map you want, just click on the "View pdf" button for that map.
Have fun browsing and downloading maps from the USGS!
Questions? Ask the Librarian.