Library Collection

The Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture at San Francisco Botanical Garden serves Gardens members, staff, and volunteers, as well as gardeners, students, scholars, and the general public.

Library Hours

Open Daily except Thurs 10am – 4pm
Closed on Federal Holidays

A Robust Catalog

The Library’s collection includes books, periodicals, nursery catalogs, archives, images, and more. Garden members and San Francisco teachers may check out books from lending collections, which include the main collection, children’s books, and teacher/parent resources. 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.

Not Your Garden Variety Library

Our collection spans all aspects of gardens and gardening, including: specific kinds of plants, garden design, horticultural history, plant lore, ethnobotany and economic plants, medical botany, sustainable agriculture and integrated pest management. We also have books exploring botanical art, illustration, and crafts. Interested in gardening for biodiversity? We cover it. Passionate about ecological restoration? We’re a great resource for that too.

Explore Our Subject Collections

About our Books

The Library houses more than 27,000 volumes and eBooks with emphasis on plants grown in Mediterranean and other mild temperate climates. We always have new books on display. Parents and teachers can utilize our resource collection devoted to children’s nature education. Discerning visitors can explore our special collections which include rare books, earlier editions, and archives; available by appointment.

Art Exhibits

The Library also showcases botanical artwork seasonally. No admission is required to enjoy art exhibits in the library. Learn more about our current exhibit, ‘Hummingbirds and Flowers’ by Ian Reid.

Summer Reading Club for Kids

Prevent the ‘summer slide’ and get outside! Learn more and read FAQs about our free eight-week Summer Reading Club for children ages 0-12. Children may join anytime from June to July.

And more!


The Gardens of Golden Gate Park archives includes drawings, photographs and manuscript materials related to the Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden, and 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. For more information about using the archives, see our Archives Research and Services document. To make an appointment, contact us at or 415-661-1316 ext. 403.


Our unique collection includes nearly 250 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 retail, wholesale, and equipment catalogs. We also have archival catalog holdings useful to researchers in horticultural history.

Pamphlet File

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 Gardens

Database of plantings in the Botanical Garden is available to search by accession number, botanical name, family, or bed number. Information about the history of the Gardens of Golden Gate Park is also available, along with archival materials, including historical images of Golden Gate Park.