The Horticultural Library is a specialized research collection that supports the curation, documentation, and study of the Arboretum’s living collections of woody plants and serves the Harvard community, Arboretum members, and the public.
The library began as the personal collection of the Arboretum’s first director, Charles Sprague Sargent. When the Hunnewell Building was constructed in 1893, Sargent donated his library of over 6,000 volumes to the Arboretum. Today the library contains over 40,000 volumes, 47,000 photographs, and serves a wide variety of patrons—scholars, researchers, biographers, nurserymen, garden writers, and publishers—who are seeking information about the plant world and related topics.
To support the research, curatorial, and educational programs of the Arboretum, the library collects works on botany, dendrology, horticulture, floras of the world, forestry, and taxonomy. The library also collects works on landscape conservation, design, history, interpretation, management, planning, and preservation. The classification can be viewed online.
The titles held in the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library in Jamaica Plain are cataloged in HOLLIS, the Harvard OnLine Library Information System. Our holdings are identified as “Botany Arboretum”. HOLLIS offers individual databases that include the holdings of the Harvard University libraries, a course reserves database, a guide to Harvard libraries, and an anthropology citation index.
In addition to the collections in Jamaica Plain, Arnold Arboretum holdings comprise approximately one-third of the 292,000 volumes held by the Harvard University Botany Libraries located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the Harvard University Herbaria. Arboretum titles held at the Botany Libraries in Cambridge are identified as Botany Arnold (Cambr) in HOLLIS.