The collection began in 1912 and was limited primarily to geology and mineralogy. The collection was part of the Natural Sciences Library and included significant donations from the personal collections of faculty members. This collection was enhanced through special purchases of maps for research.
In 1945, the scope of the collection was expanded to include all types of maps. The collection increased to over 200,000 sheets by 1964, and in 1971 the University Map Collection was moved to its current location in room 213, Lehman Library. A comprehensive inventory of the Map Collection in 1986 led to the reduction of redundant maps and a reorientation of the collection to its current status at about 114,000 sheets.
The University Map Collection at Lehman Library consists of United States Depository Maps; Canadian Depository Maps; Geological Sciences Collection; and General State, National, and International Map Series, Nautical and Aeronautical Series. These maps are filed in the Map Room of Lehman Library in Room 213 of the International Affairs Building. The Geoscience Library at Lamont-Doherty also maintains a specialized collection of maps for use by faculty and other researchers. In addition, historical maps are collected at the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.