Library, Art and Archives
Discover nearly 2,000 years of plant knowledge in one of the most extensive botanical libraries in the world.
Kew’s Library, Art 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.
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 Reading Room
Monday - Friday
10am to 4pm
We may occasionally need to close attractions for maintenance or visitor safety: check for planned closures and visitor notices before you visit.
Plan your visit
Access to the Library Reading Room is free and open to the public. The Reading Room has a reference collection, an exhibition area and also book and journal displays.
You are welcome to drop-in on the day if you wish to visit the Reading Room. For more formal research enquiries, or to consult specific items from within the collections, registration is required.
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.
Discover more of Kew
Look beyond the Gardens from the heights of our Great Pagoda, restored to its 18th century splendour.Great Pagoda
Botany on Ice: Joseph Dalton Hooker's Antarctic Journal
As part of Kew’s celebration of the bicentenary of Joseph Dalton Hooker’s birth in 1817, the Joseph Hooker Correspondence Project is pleased to announce that Hooker’s ‘Antarctic Journal’ is now available online via the Biodiversity Heritage Library.Joseph Hooker's Antarctic journal
Fabulous fungi: the illustrations of Elsie M. Wakefield
As Kew releases the first ever State of the World's Fungi report, Illustrations Curator Lynn Parker delves into a selection of wonderful fungi illustrationsFabulous fungi