San Francisco Botanical GardenAbout San Francisco Botanical Garden

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 most collections are 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 27,000 books on horticulture and related topics, with particular emphasis on plants grown in Mediterranean and other mild temperate climates.

  • More than 27,000 books, most in open stacks, accessible through the 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.
  • Oversized books, reference works, some other groups housed separately; indicated by location code "folio", "Ref", etc. in the catalog.
  • Rare book collection housed in temperature and humidity controlled room on mezzanine level. Books are available by arrangement.
  • New books on special display rack.

Children's Circulating Collection

The Library offers more than 2,000 books related to the natural world, including botany, natural history, zoology, agriculture, physical science, and myths and stories. Children's books can be checked out by San Francisco Botanical Garden Society members and San Francisco teachers who have successfully applied 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.
  • 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.
  • Teachers Resource Collection - devoted to children's nature education. Topics include K-12 lesson plans, math and science in the garden, games, crafts, ecoliteracy, school gardens and more. Also available are children's book lists by subject and a list of free online resources. Use your Garden library card to check out books for your classroom.
  • 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.



Bibliographies of children's books, California native plants, magnolias, and cloud forest plants 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.
SFBGS and San Francisco Recreation and Park Department San Francisco Botanical Garden's beauty and value as a major cultural resource are the result of a successful public/private partnership between San Francisco Botanical Garden Society and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

ADMISSION  FREE for Members, SF Residents (with proof of residency) & School Groups | $7 Non-residents | Discounts for Seniors & Children

LOCATED In Golden Gate Park, with entrances at the corner of Ninth Ave. at Lincoln Way (Main Gate) & at MLK Jr. Drive off the Music Concourse (Friend/North Gate) | Phone: (415) 661-1316 | Mail: 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122-2370

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