The California State Lands Commission has entered into a contract with Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library to digitize the remainder of its map collection — about 50,000 maps — over the next three years. This continued contract follows an $87,000 grant over the past year to digitize about 20,000 maps.

The diversity of aerials and maps that make up the State Lands Commission collection shows how California’s land and water features have changed over time. These invaluable resources not only allow for comparisons with current land surveys, but illustrate California’s historical landscape and offer evidence of the evolution of California’s geography. 

This project will empower researchers, media, scholars, educators and the public with tools to conduct more efficient research online, during on-site research trips or when making off-site inquiries.

Previous map digitization projects undertaken by the Madden Library have revealed that the digitization, online publishing and establishing a discovery platform greatly increase demand for the collections by a variety of organizations and individuals, said Del Hornbuckle, dean of the Madden Library.

“Our library has been granted permission to make these entire collections of maps and aerials available to our University community, as well as the California public and beyond,” Hornbuckle said. “We are proud to be a part of making available one of the most extensive and unique collections of maps and aerials.” 

The project will also contribute to the growth and usefulness of the University’s
Map and Aerial Locator Tool (MALT) and to its value to the University and beyond. The tool facilitates the discovery of a large assortment of maps, atlases, gazetteers and aerial photographs, some of which date back to 1886.

In addition to aerials and maps from our own library collections, the Map and Aerial Locator Tool serves as a resource for collections held by various other universities, libraries and state organizations, including UC Santa Cruz, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CSU Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Public Library and the California State Lands Commission, which holds the largest collection of such objects.


The Madden Library’s Digital Services staff will administer this project with the support of student assistants paid through contract funds. The digitization will also enable the eventual transfer of the physical State Lands Commission maps and aerials to the California State Archives for proper long-term preservation.

When the Madden Library was founded in 1911, it housed just 432 books. Today, the library is home to more than 1 million titles, 823,000 e-books and 55,000 online journals, as well as several special collections. It is the largest academic library between Los Angeles and San Francisco and welcomes 1.76 million annual visitors.