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Discover the new Library, Art & Archives Reading Room

Read about the new Library, Art & Archives Reading Room and how it has transformed services for staff and visitors.
David Iggulden

Kew's Library, Art & Archives (LAA) have now opened a fantastic new Reading Room where both staff and visitors can fully explore the collections within LAA and conduct associated research. The new facility has transformed the services the department is able to offer users and significantly enhanced access to the collections overall. It has already provided the Archives team with their busiest month to date as more and more visitors request to consult items from their collections!


The new Reading Room for staff and visitors

The new circular Reading Room can accommodate up to 40 people at a time for quiet study, with each desk space being fully equipped with a personal light and power for laptop use. A new Enquiry Desk greets users as they enter the area with staff on-hand to help throughout the day. Also within the space are displays of the latest botanical journals, new library acquisitions and a useful reference collection.

As part of this new facility, special stores are also included for the rare treasures which form a significant part of the LAA collections at Kew. This ensures that these items are kept in the most appropriate conditions (restricting temperature, humidity and light) to help conserve these important resources for future generations.

The Reading Room also includes a changing exhibition of some of these rare treasures from the collections. The current display refers to the career of William Bertram Turrill, whose long career at Kew culminated in heading the Herbarium for eleven years until his retirement in 1957. Further information about Turrill and the display will be included in a future post.

The Reading Room can accommodate up to 40 people at a time for quiet study

Visiting the Reading Room

The Library, Art & Archives collections at Kew are available for reference to everyone for research. If you wish to visit the Library to consult items from one of the collections, we recommend you make an appointment in advance to ensure that we can accommodate you.

Upon arrival visitors will be offered a locker for their belongings and provided with a clear plastic bag which can be used for essential equipment (such as a laptop) that you wish to take into the Reading Room and use during the visit. Two forms of identification (including one proof of address) are also required when visiting the Library. These basic rules help the department to ensure the security of the collections at all times.

To search the Library Collections, visit the Library's online catalogue. Unfortunately we don’t yet have an online catalogue of our Archives, but details of many of our catalogued collections are available through the National Archives Catalogue and the National Register of Archives. For a description of the Illustrations collections please see: Ward, M. & Flanagan, J. (2003) : Portraying plants - illustrations collections at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (pdf format 102KB) (Art Libraries Journal v.28, n.3, 22-28).

If you wish to visit the Reading Room please email:, telephone: +44 (0)20 8332 5414 or write to Library, Art & Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Surrey, TW9 3AE.

We look forward to welcoming you to our new Reading Room!

- David -


Further Information