The New York Botanical Garden

The LuEsther T. Mertz Library

The Mertz Library promotes the intelligent stewardship of the natural world by collecting and preserving works of merit in botany, horticulture and landscape design. These outstanding collections represent over a century of commitment to botanical, horticultural and environmental research.

The skilled staff of the Library serve as an invaluable resource by providing the highest-quality resources and services to meet the needs of The Garden's diverse research, instructional and outreach programs including the Garden’s research staff, botanists and horticulturists as well as scientific, scholarly, and artistic communities worldwide and the public at large.  The General Research Collection consists of over 550,800 volumes including more than 12,000 serial titles. The Library’s 4,600 Rare Book Collection of pre-Linnean manuscripts and printed books includes one-of-a-kind works dating back to 1190 AD. The Folio Collection has exceptional holdings of eighteenth and nineteenth-century books featuring fine botanical plates from paintings and drawings by renowned artists. The Archival Collections contain over 6000 feet of original documents that record the history and development of botanical exploration and discovery in the United States and abroad. The Art and Illustration Collection contains over 30,000 original works encompassing a broad range of media including pen and ink drawings, watercolors, lithographs, etchings and engravings oil paintings, and sculpture.

It is a valuable and useful resource in the study of botanical illustration, an invaluable teaching tool for students in the Garden’s botanical illustration classes and an outstanding source of materials to enhance the Library’s ongoing exhibitions programs. It represents the broad range of illustrative techniques employed in depicting natural history subjects and contains artworks which were created to illustrate the Garden’s scientific publications, and continues to grow as scientists donate original illustrations used in their publications, and artists donate their works to the collection knowing they will be housed in climate controlled storage and made available for study and exhibitions for future generations to enjoy.

Because of the scientific, historical, horticultural and architectural significance of its renowned collections, the Library has maintained an active conservation program for four decades, attending to the preservation needs of the book, non-book and special collections.  The Library is a founding member of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) and has digitized over 8,000 volumes (2 million pages); and is an active institutional member of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries (CBHL), the Society of American Archivists (SAA), and the American Institute for Conservation (AIC).  In 2003 the Library received a prestigious award for Outstanding Care of Collections from the American Institute for Conservation and Heritage Preservation.