Using the Library

Contacting us

Visiting the Library

Conditions for visitors


Contacting us

Library, Art & Archives
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Surrey TW9 3AE
Tel: +44 (0)20 8332 5414
Fax: +44 (0)20 8332 5430


Certain collections have separate email addresses and telephone numbers. Follow the links to see more information about these collections.

Illustrations: tel: 020 8332 5415, email:

Archives: tel: 020 8332 5417, email:

Millennium Seed Bank Library: tel: 020 8332 4178, email:

Visiting the Library

The library is open to researchers, preferably by appointment. You may find it helpful to use the information about our collections to ascertain whether we are likely to have the information you require and, by letting us know in advance, you will gain maximum benefit from your visit.

A written application to visit is preferred and this can be sent via email, letter or fax to the relevant address above. When you visit, you will asked to show photographic ID and proof of address.

Opening hours (Monday - Friday):

9am - 5pm

The library participates in the M25 Libraries Access Scheme. Staff from higher education institutions across south-east England may use the library on a reference basis. For details of the Scheme, please see the M25 website.

Libraries & Learners in London: the library provides reference access to anyone with a London borough public library card. For more information, please see the London Libraries website.

Location: for details on how to get to the Royal Botanic Gardens see Kew's visitor information pages. The Main Library is located in the Herbarium building off Kew Green to the right of the Main Gates to the gardens. The nearest public transport station is Kew Bridge (overland rail). There is very limited parking alongside Kew Green.

The Millennium Seed Bank Library is located at Wakehurst Place at Ardingly, near Haywards Heath in West Sussex.

Conditions for visitors consulting Library, Art & Archives

Please read these conditions before your visit.

When planning your visit, please consider your personal belongings, as we have no secure area in which to deposit coats and bags.  If you have a mobile phone or other noisy equipment we ask you to turn it off so that other people are not disturbed.

Please do not bring equipment and materials into Library, Art & Archives that could damage the collections, such as fountain pens, bottles of ink, paints, hand-held electronic scanners, camera flashlights, food and drink. You may use a laptop computer and the use of digital cameras is permitted without the use of flash.

Library, Art & Archives materials are more fragile than they seem, and must be handled with great care. Turn pages carefully (never use a licked finger!) and use protective gloves if asked to by library staff. Use book-supports when necessary; books and archive volumes can break if forced open or forcibly flattened.

  • Do not write on, mark, alter or re-arrange any items in the Library, Art & Archives collections without permission from library staff.
  • Archives documents can only be used under supervision.
  • Use pencils not pens - ask the duty librarian if you need to borrow a pencil.
  • Do not put pads or paper on top of Library, Art & Archives items to write on.  Tracing is not permitted.
  • Close books or cover items when you have finished consulting them to protect them from light, which can cause fading, discolouration and photo-degradation.  
  • Visitors may not borrow Library, Art & Archives materials for use away from the library.


Digital scanning

We can supply digital scans of all two-dimensional items in our collections, subject to the following restrictions: items covered by copyright legislation (more than 5% from a book or more than one article from a single issue of a periodical); the item is too large or its format is inappropriate for scanning; the item is in poor condition; the item is too tightly bound; the request is for an unreasonable amount of copying (usually more than 50 pages).

To request, please email or complete a paper form from the information desk in the Reading Room.


If you are visiting the Reading Room and you have a digital camera, you can make your own copies however we will issue a copyright declaration form, which after completion is kept by us. Please do not use any flashlighting apparatus.


As an alternative to scanning, we can provide paper photocopies subject to the restrictions above (in addition, items published before 1801 are not photocopied).

For conservation reasons, we prefer to photocopy items ourselves. For the same reason, we do not photocopy Art and Illustrations items, nor most Archive items.

If copying cannot be done immediately, it will be emailed or posted to you, or it can be collected from the information desk in the Reading Room. Please indicate your preference using the tick boxes on the request form.

Visitors may print their own copies from microfilm if they wish, however external requests will be fulfilled by scanning the original item.

Copying for reproduction in other media
Items will be sent to Kew’s Photography Studio.

External requests: 40 pence per image / paper sheet plus postage & packing (if applicable) plus VAT (if applicable)
In the Reading Room: 40 pence per image / paper sheet plus VAT.

For external requests, a minimum charge of £5 + VAT will apply for 10 sheets/images or less. More than 10 sheets/images will be charged at minimum charge + 40 pence per sheet/image beyond the first ten.

Copies for reproduction in other media are charged at a separate rate.