RBGE's Library is Scotland's national reference collection for specialist botanical and horticultural resources, and is one of this country's largest research libraries.
The Library welcomes visitors and information on our Opening Hours, Getting Here and Planning Your Visit can be found on this website; information on using the Library for RBGE staff and students on RBGE courses can be found on Green Pages.
The collection has been built up to support the specific subject fields researched and taught at RBGE - Garden staff and students are its main users, along with visiting researchers.
The Head of Library Services is Lorna Mitchell.
The Library holds resources in the following main subject areas:
- Systematic botany
Our stock in these subjects is international and multilingual, and covers flowering plants, cryptogams and fungi.
Other subject areas covered in some depth include:
- Plant biodiversity and conservation
- Plant ecology
- Plant genetics
- Economic botany and ethnobotany
- Medicinal plants
- Amenity horticulture
- Garden history, design and landscaping
- Botanical illustration
- Plant collecting and exploration
- Botanical history and biography
- Plant pathology
Please note that Library staff cannot undertake detailed research enquiries. All enquiries are answered either by referring to resources held in the collection, or by consulting members of RBGE staff with specialist knowledge in particular areas.
RBGE Library holds:
Monographs: approximately 70,000 books. Approximately 3,000 of these books form the Library's Special Collection of rare books. The earliest printed book held dates from the 15th century.
Periodicals: 150,000 bound journals covering 4,200 separate titles. Around 1,200 current periodicals in stock.
Reprints and pamphlets: 30,000 offprints of journal articles and selected pamphlets, from 18th century to present day.
Hortus Siccus: The Library holds a collection of Hortus Sicci, i.e. bound collections of specimens. A list of the collection produced by Agnes Wolff (updated - 17th September 2014) is available.
Archives: manuscripts, images and photographs relating to the history of the Garden from its beginnings in 1670 to the recent past.
Archive correspondence and diaries relating to plant collecting in India and China in the 19th and 20th centuries, for example papers relating to George Forrest and Joseph Rock.
Illustrations: 40,000 colour and black & white printed illustrations.
Photographic images: 60, 000 colour slides, mainly of plant species, filed in botanical order.
The Library resources are primarily for use at postgraduate and professional levels. A limited selection of resources is suitable for undergraduate students. Material suitable for use by secondary school students is minimal.
The Library's holdings are catalogued in print and online formats. Approximately 70% of the books held have online catalogue records.
Library staff are working to convert print catalogue records to electronic catalogue records. Catalogue records for older stock items are regularly added to the online catalogue.
The majority of items in the Special Collection and Reprint and Pamphlet Collection do not have electronic catalogue records.
As well as the catalogues, we hold print and electronic indexes to resources held in the Library, which enable quicker retrieval of specific material.