The Library’s reference collection includes books, periodicals, nursery catalogs, archives, images, and more. Visitors can search our online catalog from our website or at workstations at the Library. Visitors can use non-circulating materials in our beautiful reading room.
All aspects of gardens and gardening
Specific kinds of plants
Ethnobotany and economic plants
Botanical art, illustration, and crafts
Gardening for biodiversity
Integrated pest management
The Library houses more than 27,000 volumes with emphasis on plants grown in Mediterranean and other mild temperate climates.
Parent/teacher resource collection devoted to children’s nature education.
Special collections include rare books, earlier editions, and archives; available by appointment.
New books on display
The children’s books and parent/teacher resources are the Library's only circulating collections and can be checked out by Garden members and pre-K-12 teachers at San Francisco schools.
Want to know more about magnolias? Or maybe you're looking for a California native tree for your garden. Library staff created these subject guides to help visitors find resources on popular gardening and horticultural topics.
Children's Subject Guides
Library staff created these subject guides to help parents, teachers, and young visitors find resources on popular gardening and horticultural topics.
The San Francisco Botanical Garden archives includes drawings, photographs and manuscript materials related to San Francisco Botanical Garden and Golden Gate Park. Holdings of the archives are available to staff, volunteers, and the public for research, within conditions imposed by donor agreements and institutional policy. The collection guide can be found on the Online Archive of California.
Our unique collection includes nearly 250 current magazine subscriptions, as well as many non-current out-of-print titles. Additionally, search the Gale OneFile Gardening and Horticulture database to access numerous current publications while using the Library, or use your library card to access it remotely.
Visitors interested in locating sources of garden plants have access to more than 1000 retail, wholesale, and equipment catalogs. We also have archival catalog holdings useful to researchers in horticultural history.
A variety of pamphlets grouped under general headings, plant names, San Francisco Botanical Garden, botanical gardens, Golden Gate Park, and San Francisco.
About 2,500 images, mostly of plants, some of botanical illustration, Garden views, and Golden Gate Park history.
Information about the Garden
Database of plantings in the Garden is available to search by accession number, botanical name, family, or bed number. Information about the history of San Francisco Botanical Garden and San Francisco Botanical Garden Society is also available, along with archival materials, including historical images of Golden Gate Park.