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Library Collections 

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

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.



For Children

  • 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 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

  • eBook Collection


Over 2,000 children's books devoted to plants, gardening and nature.


Subject Guides

Subject Guides

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.

Children's Subject Guides

And More!

Additional Collections



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.


For more information about using the archives, see our Archives Research and Services document. To make an appointment, contact us at [email protected] 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 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.

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