Library and Archives

Discover nearly 2,000 years of plant knowledge in one of the most extensive botanical libraries in the world.

Paintings from the Illustrations and Artefacts Collection

Please note that one-way systems may be in place. We encourage you to wear a face covering when indoors unless you are exempt and please be considerate of other people’s space.

Kew’s Library and Archives collection spans 2,000 years of plant knowledge and discovery.

With information on the naming, classification and uses of plants, plant ecology, conservation, and the wild plants of the world, it's a treasure trove of plant stories. 

If you’re a researcher, a garden lover, or simply an avid reader, our collection offers plenty of resources on botanic gardens and herbaria worldwide, the history of gardening and garden design, and biographical materials on botanists and gardeners. The oldest item in the collection dates back to the 1370s, while our copies of ancient works of botany invite you to journey even further back in time.  

Highlights 

Explore the treasures of our collections 

As well as items on the history of Kew Gardens and Wakehurst, we hold original sources from many of the significant figures in botanical history, including Charles Darwin, Sir Joseph Hooker, Elsie Wakefield and Marianne North.  

We regularly acquire new publications for specialist and popular audiences, keeping our collection fresh and contemporary. Whether you’re seeking maps or expedition reports, ancient texts or new publications, there’s a world of plant knowledge to discover and study in our Reading Room today.  

Visiting the Library and Archives Reading Room

Opening hours

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10am – 4pm.

Pre-booked appointments only; we require at least one week’s notice and there is a daily limit to admissions.

We may occasionally need to close attractions for maintenance or visitor safety: Check for planned closures and visitor notices before you visit. 

Access Kew's Library Catalogue

Contact 

Please contact the Library or Archives teams if you would like to arrange a visit.  

Location  

For travel information to Kew Gardens, see our visitor information pages.  The Main Library is located in the Herbarium building off Kew Green to the right of Elizabeth Gate. The nearest public transport station is Kew Bridge (overland rail). There is very limited parking alongside Kew Green. 

For full details on visiting the Library, please download this short guide with all the information you need. 

Getting to Library and Archives

 

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