San Francisco Botanical GardenSan Francisco Botanical Garden Library of Horticulture

Library Collections

The Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture serves students, biologists, historians, conservationists, librarians, bibliographers and the general public interested in horticulture and related subject.

We acquire and maintain a comprehensive reference collection of material including books, periodicals, nursery catalogs, pamphlets, slides, and videos. Patrons can search our online catalog from our website or at workstations at the library. Because the collection is non-circulating, there is a well-lit reading room where visitors may sit while using the collections. There are computer workstations, slide viewers, a VCR, and photocopiers (color and black & white) available.


Subjects include:

  • All aspects of gardens and gardening
  • Specific kinds of plants
  • Garden design
  • Horticultural history
  • Plant lore
  • Ethnobotany and economic plants
  • Medical botany
  • Botanical art, illustration, and crafts
  • Gardening for biodiversity
  • Ecological restoration
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Integrated pest management


The Library houses more than 23,000 books on horticulture and related topics, with particular emphasis on plants grown in Mediterranean and other mild temperate climates.

  • More than 23,000 books, most in open stacks, accessible through the card catalog online catalog arranged by author, title, subject, etc.
  • Collection of children's books housed separately in window alcove indicated by "j" above call number in the catalog on catalog cards.
  • Oversized books, reference works, some other groups housed separately; indicated by location code "folio", "Ref", etc. in the catalog on catalog cards.
  • Rare book collection housed in temperature and humidity controlled room on mezzanine level. Cards Records are marked with "*" – we will gladly bring books down on request.
  • New books on special display rack. Monthly new books list available.

Children's Circulating Collection

The Library houses more than 1,600 children's books related to botanical and horticultural topics, including natural history, zoology, agriculture, forestry, and physical science. This collection is the Library's only circulating collection and can be checked out by current San Francisco Botanical Garden Society members and current San Francisco teachers after successfully applying for a library card. Learn more about checking out books and how to get a library card.



Our unique collection includes nearly 350 current magazine subscriptions, as well as many non-current out-of-print titles.


Nursery Catalogs

Visitors interested in locating sources of garden plants have access to more than 1000 current retail, wholesale, and equipment catalogs. We also have archival catalog holdings useful to researchers in horticultural history.


Additional Collections

  • Pamphlet File - A variety of pamphlets are grouped under general headings, plant names, San Francisco Botanical Garden (Garden and Society), botanical gardens, Golden Gate Park, and San Francisco in the Library's vertical files.
  • Slides - Several thousand slides, mostly of plants, some of botanical illustration, Strybing views, and Golden Gate Park history. Duplication available; $1.50 per slide; allow two weeks.
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden Plant Collection Lists - Lists are arranged by genus, accession number, and garden location. Guidebook for sale in San Francisco Botanical Garden Bookstore.
  • Children's Collection - Visit our child-friendly window alcove, filled with over 1,600 children's books and touchable objects. The Children's Collection circulates to San Francisco Botanical Garden Society members and to current SFUSD teachers.
  • Garden Videos - A collection of videos on a variety of topics and a TV/VCR are available. TV/VCR on permanent loan from San Francisco Orchid Society.
  • Rare Book Collection - This small collection is housed in a climate controlled room. Books are available by arrangement.

Information about the Garden

Printouts of plantings in the Garden are available, with listings by accession number, botanical name, family, or bed number. Information about the history of the San Francisco Botanical Garden and the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society is also available, along with archival materials, including historical photographs of Golden Gate Park.



Our annotated bibliographies of children's books, ethnobotany, bamboo, gardening and nature study, plant arts and crafts, Asian art and gardens, culinary botany, etc. are available; other subject bibliographies and updates in process.

Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries

Member of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries
An international organization whose purpose is to initiate and improve communications among persons and institutions concerned with the development, maintenance and use of libraries of botanical and horticultural literature.
ADMISSION  FREE for all SF City & County Residents, Members & School Groups     /     $7 Non-residents     /     Discounted fee: Seniors & Children

LOCATION Entrances at the corner of 9th Ave at Lincoln Way & at MLK Jr. Dr. off the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park

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