Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Library
The Library of the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) Melbourne is Australia's most comprehensive botanical library. It is the information centre that supports the work of the Gardens. The Library collections include printed material, original artwork, letters and manuscripts, photographs, maps and museum items, as well as extensive archives.
The Library specialises in the fields of plant taxonomy and systematics; horticulture, gardening and landscape design; the exploration of Australia; botanical illustration; the history of botany and horticulture in Australia; and the history of RBG Melbourne and the National Herbarium of Victoria.
Much of the material in the Library is fragile or ephemeral in nature and must be stored in special storage areas. New material is continually added to the Library to support the management of the Gardens and its research programs.
Using the Library
The Library is open to the public by appointment only, and students are encouraged to exhaust all other resources before approaching the Library for assistance. Enquiries may be directed to the Library and should include your name and contact details, the information required and the reason for the enquiry. If you have an enquiry or wish to make an appointment please contact the Library.
The Library hours are 9.30 am to 4.00 pm Monday to Friday.
Search the Library catalogue
The Library's collection can be searched using the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC). The catalogue contains almost 50,000 records, which represents the majority of the collection, and new records are added daily.
Contact the Library
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Private Bag 2000
South Yarra, Vic. 3141
Library Manager: Sally Stewart (03) 9252 2320
Library Technician: Jill Thurlow (03) 9252 2382
Ferdinand von Mueller's library
The Library's foundation is the personal library of Ferdinand von Mueller, Victoria's first Government Botanist. In his efforts to assemble a library of essential texts, Mueller spent much of his own money. His efforts resulted in the Gardens having an extensive collection of works published in the nineteenth century and earlier. These works are essential to our understanding of Australian plants.
The Library holds the personal papers of a number of people who played a key role in research on the Australian flora. In some cases they also lodged significant collections of specimens in the National Herbarium of Victoria. The archives include material from:
- Jim Willis (1910–1995), botanist and staff member of the National Herbarium of Victoria from 1939 to 1972. A complete guide to Jim Willis' papers is available.
- Ilma Stone (1913–2001), a botanist renowned for her contribution to moss taxonomy
- Cliff Beauglehole (1920–2002), a committed conservationist from Portland who collected over 50,000 specimens from all over Victoria
- Marion and John Simmons, who collected, painted and photographed Australian Acacias.
- Bill Woelkerling, a world expert on coralline red algae, donated a collection of over 9,000 reprints about algae.
The Library is also the repository of the archives of the Australian Systematic Botany Society.
The Library contains a large collection of biographical information about people who collected, described, wrote about or painted Australian plants; people after whom an Australian plant was named; and staff members of RBG Melbourne and the National Herbarium of Victoria.
Artwork and photographs
The Library's collection of botanical art includes the work of some of Australia's best-known botanical artists, including Anita Barley, Mali Moir, Enid Mayfield, Celia Rosser, Margaret Stones and Betty Conabere. Over 5,000 botanical artworks are held in the Library.
The Library also holds over 30,000 photographs, including historic images of the Gardens and slides of Australia's native and cultivated flora. The photograph collection includes the collections of Ilma Dunn, Ian McCann and Bob Withers.
Under the Library exchange program we send the National Herbarium of Victoria's botanical journal, Muelleria, to other plant research organisations throughout the world. In return we receive their scientific journals, adding to the Library's collection of information about the world's flora.
For all enquiries about journal exchanges please contact the Library.
Other botanical libraries
Ferdinand von Mueller's Herbarium, 1925
Mueller's copy of Australia twice traversed, a gift from Ernest Giles in gratitude for Mueller's support
Pomaderris aurea, watercolour painting by Anita Barley
Jim Willis on a Field Naturalists excursion in the 1940s
Aseroe rubra, watercolour painting by Malcolm Howie
The Temple of the Winds, RBG Melbourne, c. 1920
The journal collection in the RBG Melbourne Library
Last updated 25 Jan 2012