This specialized botanical library deals primarily with tropical plants, especially epiphytes. The library houses approximately 7,000 volumes, including a rare book collection dating to the late 1700s, 14,000 issues of scientific journals, 2,500 microfiche of early botanical references and herbaria, a photographic slide collection, an illustration file, a map file, and the Gardens historical archives. This collection has an emphasis on areas of plant systematics, floristics, horticulture, morphology, ecology, economic botany, and evolution.
The Selby Gardens Research Library is one of the finest botanical libraries in the SE United States and an important source of literature for the entire western hemisphere. The library specializes in New World tropical and subtropical botany, ecology, and horticulture. A searchable catalogue is available on-line. Also housed there is a diverse collection of media resources on tropical botany, with an emphasis on epiphytes. The Library, primarily a research and reference tool for staff scientists and horticulturists, is also used by plant professionals and amateur plant enthusiasts.
Among Library holdings are the Main Book Collection of approximately 7200 volumes, including the Rare Book Collection (more than 500 volumes); a Serial Collection currently receiving more than 300 botanical, horticultural, and ecological journals and botanical garden/society newsletters; a microfiche collection of 141 titles and five herbaria (26,041 fiche); a Botanical Print Collection of 1600 botanical prints and 12,000 slides; as well as 100 video tapes and an assortment of CD ROMs. In addition, the Library is the repository for a collection of architectural drawings and blueprints (more than 400 items), detailing the development of Selby Gardens and plans for the future.
History of the Library
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens was conceived as a horticultural facility specializing in epiphytic plants and devoted to their study, research, and display. To accomplish these goals, a research Library was included from the outset as a requisite feature. Even before Selby Gardens opened to the public in 1975, the Library had begun to acquire materials.
The most effective method for acquiring the book and serial collections needed by staff taxonomists was the purchase of microfiche. In 1973, a complete set of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, dating from 1788, became available in England and was purchased. Another private collection of rare orchid books also became available and was purchased in 1973. In addition, that same year Alphonse Heller’s collection was made available to the Gardens following his death and was purchased. In 1977, L.O. Williams donated his entire Library and herbarium to Selby Gardens; and over the years other personal collections have been donated (such as the collections of Michael Madison, Dr. Helen Miller, and Dr. Bruce McAlpin). The Library originally was located on the second floor of the Christy Payne Mansion. By 1995, the collection had outgrown this location and was moved to its present site behind the Administration Building, on the southwest corner of Orange Avenue and Mound Street. That year, professional software was obtained, and the conversion of the collection to a computer-based Library of Congress cataloging system began. Five years later, computerization of the book, microfiche, and serial collections were completed. The print and map collections had been indexed and the serials inventoried.
Main Book Collection
The Library presently holds more than 4,900 titles in its catalog, encompassing approximately 7,200 volumes. The emphasis of the collection is on orchid and bromeliad families, though researchers also make use of the Library’s extensive holdings on ethnobotany, ecology, floristics, and systematic botany. In keeping with the Gardens’ focus on epiphytes, the Library includes numerous volumes on the taxonomy of epiphytic plant families.
The Rare Book Collection consists of 65 titles, comprising more than 500 bound volumes of hard-to-find botanical works, some more than 200 years old. Included is an entire set of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, dating from 1788; Edwards Botanical Register, 33 volumes from 1815; Loddiges Botanical Cabinet, 20 volumes from 1817–1833; Paxton’s Magazine of Botany, 1834–1849; and Bateman’s Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala, published in 1834. Access to the collection requires the presence of a librarian.
Available for use are full or partial sets of 310 titles, consisting primarily of botanical, horticultural, and ecological journals and monographic series, along with newsletters and publications of interest from other botanical gardens. Many journals are complete from 1973 (founding of Selby Gardens) to date. A fair number of older botanical journals also are present, though not in complete sets.
The Botanical Print Collection is stored in a climate-controlled room with the rare books; access is limited. These prints, accumulated through donation and purchase are mostly from various illustrated books. All have been cataloged in a database that allows retrieval by artist, plant family, plant name, or source document. Please see our sample of botanical plates.
The microfiche collection provides 141 titles of early, hard-to-obtain botanical works, particularly on the Orchidaceae, and the following herbaria on microfiche (AMES, HBK-P, Lindley Orchid Herbarium, Reichenbach Herbarium, US National Orchid Type Herbarium).
Gardens Drawings and Blueprints
Since planning began for Selby Gardens in 1973, many design approaches have been studied for both the buildings and grounds, resulting in approximately 500 drawings and blueprints. All have been cataloged in a computer database and are stored in the Library.
Slides, CDs, Videotapes
The Library houses more than 12,000 photographic slides of plants, early Selby Gardens scenes and people. Also maintained are more than 100 videotapes of botanical and ecological programs and compact disks of botanical reference topics.
Library Schedule and Contact Information
The Research Library is open most Monday Mornings from 9 a.m. – Noon and Friday afternoons from 1 – 4 p.m. For further information, call (941) 366-5731 x 248 or email us.
Visitation and Checkout Procedures
Volunteers and Members
Consultation of the main book and journal collections is available during Library hours.
The Library is available by appointment. Please call (941) 366-5731 x 248. Library materials are not available for public checkout.
Consultation of the Main Book Collection and journals is available during Library hours, or special arrangements can be made to visit the Library at other times. Checkout is available under the auspices of a sponsoring staff member. The checkout period is usually for the duration of a scientist’s visit.
Staff Members and Interns
Consultation of the Main Book Collection and journals is available during Library hours, or special arrangements can be made to visit the Library at other times. Consultation of the Rare Book Collection is by appointment only and requires the presence of a librarian. Books from the Main Collection and journals may be checked out and taken to work areas. The checkout period is one year.
Selby Gardens is a member of The Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries.