The Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture, established in 1972, is northern California's most comprehensive horticultural library. The Library houses approximately 27,000 volumes and 250 current plant and garden periodicals. The Library collections cover all aspects of horticulture including gardening, garden design, botanical art, ethnobotany and pest management, with an emphasis on plants grown in Mediterranean and other mild temperate climates.
The library also features a 2,000-volume children's botanical library, Children's Story Time & Family Garden Walk program, rotating Botanical Art Exhibitions, and more.
Open Friday and Saturday 10am–4pm
The Library is open! We are thrilled to welcome visitors again. This is a phased reopening with limited hours.
Here are the public health safety guidelines you can expect when you plan your visit to the Library:
Library visitors two years and older are required to wear a well-fitting face covering over their nose and mouth at all times
Avoid entering the library if you are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms or feeling sick
For anyone who is unable to meet the above requirements, library staff will make every attempt to assist patron’s needs online, via phone, etc.
Visitors will be able to:
Access the Library collections
Garden members and San Francisco teachers may check out children's books and parent/teacher resources
View and purchase artwork from our new exhibition
Access computers to search library catalog
Browse and purchase used gardening books
Access Wi-Fi services
Also, Garden members and San Francisco teachers can continue to check out books through our front gate service, Children's Books To Go, on the new Friday-Saturday schedule from 10am-4pm
The Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture was made possible through the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society at Strybing Arboretum (formerly the Strybing Arboretum Society) and the generosity of private donors and foundations. It was presented to the City and County of San Francisco for public use and inspiration at a dedication ceremony on Tuesday, April 11, 1972.
The Library was named after Mrs. Henry P. Russell (Helen Crocker Russell), a keen amateur gardener and horticulturist who was for many years a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Society. A member of the pioneer Crocker family which is identified with cultural and educational development in San Francisco, Mrs. Russell generously supported and actively served on the boards of many organizations, both locally and nationally. For these reasons, it was felt that a library of books on gardening and horticulture, open to the general public, would be a most appropriate and useful memorial to a woman who contributed so much to San Francisco.
The Library building was designed by the firm of Yuill-Thornton, Warner and Levikow, to conform to the architectural concept of the adjacent San Francisco County Fair Building and to house both the Library and offices of the Society. The courtyard was designed by Landscape Architect Thomas D. Church, in honor of Gardner A. Dailey, preliminary planner of the Library.
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.