American Geographical Society Library



Chat with AGSL staff is available 8AM to 4:30PM, M-F. You may chat with other librarians at any time. If necessary, we will e-mail you a response later.





How to Find Materials in the AGS Library

Materials in the Online Catalog - PantherCat
The majority of monographs, atlases, paper maps and data discs are cataloged and accessible through the Library's on-line catalog, PantherCat. However, many of the AGS Library's older materials are not in the online catalog.

To limit a PantherCat search specifically for materials in the AGS Library collections, select "Quick Limit: American Geographical Society Library" when searching.

AGS Library maps and atlases are arranged using the unique, region-based AGS Classification System. Monographs and reference materials are arranged using the Library of Congress classification system.

Materials in the AGS Library Card Catalog
While a recataloging project recently brought many AGSL items into the online catalog, there remain many items cataloged only in the old fashioned card catalog. If you don't find what you're looking for in PantherCat, visit the AGS Library to have staff assist you with searching the card catalog (or email us with questions

Researchers often enjoy searching and browsing the card catalog for their own materials. The underlying arrangement of the card catalog and the number system used for older materials is geographic. There are separate sections for books, maps and serials. All maps relating to a place are entered under the name of the place and then sub-arranged according to the category of the map. The categories are:

  • Maps of the whole geographic unit, arranged by date
  • Atlases of that unit
  • Cities of that unit
  • Exploration done by that unit
  • Government agencies (publishers)
  • Reference Material
  • Sections of the unit
  • Sets of maps of the unit

Entries (card catalog cards) with the word LIBRARY in the upper right hand corner are maps that are to be found in books or periodicals. Make sure to get the full citation.

Older entries have obsolete call numbers. To find an item it is
necessary to create the likely call number for the map.

When using subject entries in the card catalog, be aware that the sub-arrangement is geographical. 

Online Digital Collections
Many of our digital materials are online in one of several collections. These collections can be accessed through our AGSL Digital Collections Portal. The AGS Library Online Digital Collections include images of Afghanistan, Tibet, Georgia and Russia; Milwaukee and a variety of world cities; and air, water and land transportation. Our Digital Map Collection includes many of our most-frequently-requested maps.

AGS Library Compact Shelving
Not all AGS Library materials are located on the third floor east wing. Standard size AGS Library materials with call numbers starting with F through Z are located in Compact Shelving West, located on the lower level west wing. However, folios (denoted FOL) with call numbers A through Z are located in the AGS Library on the third floor east wing. If you have any questions while in Compact Shelving, use a campus phone to call the AGS Library at x6282.

AGS Library Staff Members
Staff members are always available to help find materials. For more extensive searches, appointments can be made with staff members in advance. Contact us for more information.

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Accessing AGS Library Materials

The American Geographical Society Library is open to the general public as well as to UWM students, faculty and staff members. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 4:30pm. The AGS Library makes its materials available as widely as possible. However, due to the rarity and nature of these materials, many of them do not circulate. Most items can be viewed in the AGS Library during business hours. For location and parking information, see the AGS Library Location and Hours page.

Many materials can be reproduced for use outside of the AGS Library, persuant to copyright regulations and library policy. For more information, see our web page on Reproducing Materials.

Users may request that materials be left out for them for a negotiated amount of time ranging from several days to a semester. This allows users to easily access specific material periodically without having the staff retrieve the items every time the user visits.

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Handling AGS Library Materials

To better preserve the materials in the Library, retrieving and refiling maps and atlases is restricted to AGS Library staff. Users should have staff pull any materials they want to look at, and leave materials out for the staff to refile.

The AGS Library Rare Room is restricted to staff only. The AGS Library staff will retrieve any needed materials from the Rare Room. Access to rare materials will be provided to users in the AGS Library Rare Materials Viewing Room which is under video surveillance. Completion of the Rare Materials Use Form and proper identification is required.


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Comments or questions for the AGSL? Send them to or call (414) 229-6282.

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