For two centuries, the Department of Maps and plans has been collecting specialized documents in the field, making them available to readers. It is a French pole of excellence recognized at the international level in the field of cartographic and geographic information. It houses collections of atlases, maps, plans, globes, monographs and periodicals, whether from France or foreign countries. Dating back to the Middle-Ages up to the 21st century, they meet the researchers' needs in a wide variety of domains.
Since 1942, the Department has been also housing the collections of the Société de Géographie: printed documents, photographs, manuscripts...
The reading room is open to the readers of the Research Library; the consultation of certain documents is possible only after an interview with a librarian.
The collections of Maps and Plans Department are indexed in the Catalogue général de la BnF.
Certain collections are fully or partially listed only on paper inventories available in the reading room: collections from the Service hydrographique de la Marine, old map series, Klaproth collection... Acquisitions, donations and legal deposit registers are also available for collections added to the Department before the eighties.