Visitors to the first floor of Hardin Hall on East Campus will notice something unusual about the academic building — a map and gift store showcasing items ranging from elegant canvas bags to flying squirrel-themed T-shirts and massive maps.
Initially starting out as a Cartography Shop and Maps Repository on City Campus, the shop, Nebraska Maps & More, has evolved over the years and today features many items that are representative of the School of Natural Resources, including visors, hats, books, magnets, handmade jewelry and other items celebrating the natural world, said store manager, Jacki Loomis.
In particularly, the store takes the “maps” portion of its name seriously, Loomis said.
“It takes 1,439 U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps to cover the whole state of Nebraska on the scale of 1:24,000, and we have every one of them here available for sale here at the store or online at no cost,” she said.
Although the widespread availability of smartphones and other digital devices has made digital maps more popular, they still have limitations, Loomis said. For instance, in cases of poor internet connection when researchers go out into the field, digital maps may not be accessible. Furthermore, Nebraska Maps & More has maps covering Nebraska from as early as the 1930s to the 1970s.
Following its merger with the School of Natural Resources about 16 years ago, Nebraska Maps & More has expanded to include products that support SNR’s program areas, including fish and wildlife.
For example, the store published the book, “Fishes of Nebraska,” which is geared toward Nebraska residents interested in fish, as well as stakeholders and policy makers.
“We would like to think that our publications are going to be meaningful to me and you, also maybe to the state legislators downtown trying to make decisions,” Loomis said.
Nebraska Maps & More serves as a hub not only for the University of Nebraska–Lincoln students, but also for the wider Nebraska community. John Carroll, the director of the School of Natural Resources, appreciates the store’s presence and commends the role it plays in creating a welcoming atmosphere in Hardin Hall.
“Nebraska Maps & More is really the face of SNR,” Carroll said. “The store has some neat stuff that you’re not just going to find in any store.”
Among these unusual items are T-shirts emblazoned with the words “East Campus Flying Squirrels” and an illustration of the critter gliding through the air. These were designed after the squirrels, which were thought to be present only in the most southeast portion of the state, were discovered on East Campus late in 2021. Soon, Carroll said, flying squirrel houses will be available, too.
“One of the things that we are talking about right now is having a line of flying squirrel boxes that people would be able to get at our shop — and nowhere else,” Carroll said. “We think that there’s lots of good flying squirrel habitat on our campus and in the neighborhoods, and so we’re trying to find a way to encourage our neighbors to put flying squirrel boxes.”
Thanks to his skill in woodwork, Carroll, aided by a handful of trained students, is presently engaged in constructing flying squirrel boxes. He estimates the boxes are likely to be finished later this spring and available for purchase in the store sometime over the summer.
Although Nebraska Maps & More offers an extensive range of products, Loomis has a few favorites. These include the USGS maps, historical aerial photos that provide a unique perspective on Nebraska’s landscapes, and the informative book, “Amphibians and Reptiles of Nebraska.” To that list, Dr. Carroll would undoubtedly add the flying squirrels T-shirts (and the new boxes that will be launching in-store soon). With these and many other items available, visitors to Hardin Hall and its unique store are sure to leave with a greater appreciation for the natural resources of Nebraska. The store is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m., as well as when special events are held in Hardin Hall. Shop online here.