Announcing a new digital platform for maps, developed by the National Library. Please distribute  -


Map Search is the National Library’s latest user interface, and has been launched in beta form, using the considerable collections held by the Library. It allows the user to layer scanned historical street, topographic, road and other maps over modern digital basemaps, with the capability to view and document map features. Map Search can be used to track change over time, with added value for local and family historians, students and educators, environmental and many other researchers. We’re excited as well that the Features editor function allows users to use a map to record the history of their area of interest.


Map Search currently includes 13 500 digitised Australian maps which anyone can browse –

•          Scanned historical maps overlaid on three current digitial map base layers

•          Imagery that allows you to track change over time

•          Georeferencing tool to accurately position historical maps

•          Features editor to add annotations about features such as schools, mills, missions, property blocks, and cemeteries to any map


The Library’s Curatorial/Maps and Digital Product teams have worked collaboratively for approximately 2 years to develop the platform. Map Search is an innovation in map layering, with 95% accuracy achieved through the use of the platform’s warping tool. While other map layering tools do exist, Map Search is the first of its kind covering all Australian states and territories.


The example below is a snapshot of an old Vaccuum road map of Canberra over present-day imagery (try the link below the image). Using the opacity ‘slider’ users will be able to see early subdivisions and features that have disappeared over time such as bridges across the Molonglo and the course of the river itself, sports grounds, tracks and roads, paddocks, halls, hospitals, even previous locations of the National Library. We think Map Search will open up many possibilities for users, so please search for your place, and see the difference for yourself.

In coming weeks the Map Search url and details will be sent to a range of stakeholders to test and provide feedback, and inform future development.


Vacuum road guide to Canberra, 1946


Brendan Whyte

National Library of Australia