Together with the herbarium, the Garden library is the foundation for studies by staff, students, scientists and scholars from the United States and abroad.
The oldest volume in the library is Liber Ruralium Commodorium, published in 1474. The Garden's magnificent collection of rare books includes more than 1,100 volumes in the Sturtevant Pre-Linnaean Collection, some of the earliest attempts to classify plants systematically. These rare and historic works were produced between 1474 and 1753, when Carl Linnaeus published Species Plantarum, establishing the binomial system of naming plants. The Garden's extensive post-1753 collections include rare original editions of works by Linnaeus, Darwin, and Audobon.
Other special collections in the library include rare books that chronicle major botanical explorations; rare 18th and 19th century journals; splendid folios of life-size plant illustrations; and unique archival manuscripts important to the history of botany in the United States. The Ewan Collection, compiled by the late, eminent scholars Joseph and Nesta Ewan, is a superb archive on the history of natural history.
With more than 126,000 volumes and 2,000 current periodicals, the Garden library encompasses the finest botanical literature in both floristics and taxonomy. Its catalog is fully automated and accessible on the Garden website, where several rare and beautiful volumes can be viewed online. The library has launched a major new initiative to digitize scientifically identified plant images and associated data. Over 17,000 digitized images are now available for viewing and downloading.
Library Online Catalog:
Rare Books Website:
Plant Specimen Image Website: