The centre for cartographic materials is the map department with its maps reading room, where readers can consult more than a million maps and related literature on cartography. The holdings of around 450,000 items published between 1500 and 1939 rank among the most important collections in the world, especially because of the large quantity of manuscript maps from the 18th and 19th centuries. Up to 2015 the German Research Foundation (DFG) especially funded the special subject collection 'Topographic maps', the so-called post-1940 modern holdings. Every year several thousand map sheets are being added to the modern holdings.
Some smaller, yet often especially valuable collections and single items, mostly original hand drawings, are in the care of the Manuscript department, the Oriental department, and the East Asia department