BBG Library - Brooklyn Botanic Garden
BBG Library

BBG Library

Note: The Library will be closed March 11–26.

BBG’s Library provides reference services to home gardeners, staff, and the professional horticultural community. It is a convenient access point from which to learn more about all of the Library’s collections and the Garden’s plant collections. The Library is located on the second floor of the historic McKim, Mead & White Administration Building (enter at 1000 Washington Avenue). Members may borrow one or two books for a period of up to two weeks.

LINNAEUS, the Garden’s online catalog, allows visitors to search and tag the Garden’s entire collection of books and serials as well as browse electronic journals, RSS feeds, and a handy set of research resource links.

Visit LINNAEUS, BBG’s Online Catalog ›


Tuesday–Friday: 12–6 p.m.
Please call 718-623-7270 or email [email protected] ahead of your visit.
Please note the Library will be closed March 11–26.

Special Collections

Special collections consist of archives of notable individuals, institutional records of the Garden, historical and botanical photography, and original botanical art work.

Historic Image Collections ›

Florilegium Society Botanical Art ›

A portion of the Library’s collection is maintained off-site in accessible storage.

Gardener’s Help Line

Library staff can answer your gardening and horticulture questions. Contact [email protected]. Please include your phone number in your email query for a more timely response from our staff. You may also leave a voicemail message at 718-623-7270 and a member of our Library staff will return your call.

To expedite answers, the Help Line staff suggests the following:

  • Keep your question as straightforward as possible.
  • Identify your question category: pests and diseases, culture and propagation, plant identification, etc.
  • Identify the class of plant: tree, shrub, perennial, annual, etc.
  • Describe the problem. If you’re concerned about an insect, for example, note the appearance of the pest and where you have seen it (on leaves, stems, in the soil), as well as the damage it is doing.

Rare Book Room

Charles Stuart Gager, the first director of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, was a man of extraordinary vision, a distinguished botanist, and a bibliophile. For Gager, assembling a great botanical library to support the historical and scientific study of plants was an integral part of building a great botanical garden. Through special endowments and generous gifts, Gager and those who followed built a collection of significant botanical and horticultural works that has few rivals.

The Collection

The non-circulating rare book collection, comprising some 1500 volumes from the 15th century through the 20th century, is particularly strong in:

  • Early European herbals, including those by Brunfels, Dodoens, Fuchs, and Mattioli.
  • The great color-plate books, including those by Blackwell, Miller, Loudon, Hooker, and Redouté.
  • Landmark works by Linnaeus, including correspondence, Hortus Cliffortianus, and Species Plantarum.
  • New World floras by early travelers in the Americas, like Bartram, Catesby, and Michaux.

Bibliographic records for most of this collection are available through LINNAEUS, the Library's online catalog.


Hours are by written application and by appointment only.


The Rare Book Room is available for research to qualified readers by application to the director of Library Services. Application must include a statement of research goals and affiliation of the researcher. Please contact [email protected] to apply for access.

Rules and Procedures

The Rare Book collection is available for use by appointment, subject to the rules listed below.

  1. All readers are required to sign the register and present current photographic identification.
  2. Before entering the Rare Book Room, individual titles to be consulted must be identified for the accompanying librarian. Public access catalogs are available in both libraries to check bibliographic information.
  3. All coats, briefcases, bags, computer carrying cases, books, notebooks, etc. must be left with the director of Library Services and may not be brought into the Rare Book Room. Readers will only be admitted with pencil, paper, and laptop computer, and thus are encouraged to bring a minimum of other material with them.
  4. Only pencils may be used in the Rare Book Room.
  5. Readers agree to wear protective gloves if requested to do so by the librarian.
  6. No material may be removed from the Rare Book Room.
  7. The librarian will retrieve and reshelve all items, and will present only one item at a time.
  8. Guests may not accompany readers to the Rare Book Room.
  9. The attending librarian may halt use of materials at any time if these rules are not followed or if continued handling is injurious to the condition of an item.
  10. Most items in this collection are extremely rare or irreplaceable. Readers are expected to use more than ordinary care in the handling of materials, and must avoid touching text or decoration. Readers are strictly prohibited from writing, scoring or otherwise marking materials. No objects may be laid on books, with the exception of special weights placed by the attending librarian.
  11. All readers’ papers will be examined before departure from the Rare Book Room.
Image, top of page: Alvina Lai