The library collection at NTBG’s headquarters campus is one of the largest and most important botanical/horticultural libraries in the state of Hawai‘i, housing more than 20,000 books, journals, botanical prints, and archival materials. The foundations of the library collections were established in the early years of the institution. As they did then, today the library collections provide a critical resource for botanical and horticultural staff, students, volunteers, historians, and visiting scientists from around the world. The library is a natural complement to the herbarium and living collections, providing access to both published and unpublished information necessary for botanical research.
Reflecting the historic nature of the science of systematic botany, the library collects, catalogs, and conserves published literature relating to systematic botany from the 16th century onward, which includes many rare volumes. Unpublished materials, such as field collectors' notebooks, are also part of the library's collections, as are the correspondence and working papers of botanists, horticulturists, and educators, as well as historical records of NTBG itself. Original botanical art, including some prepared for use in the NTBG’s scientific publications, illuminates and augments the botanical record and the holdings of the library. Slide and photographic print collections include roughly 8,000 historical images and 16,000 images of Hawaiian and Pacific island plants and people.
The library’s acquisitions policy is to collect comprehensively in systematic and floristic botany, with particular focus on studies of Hawai‘i and the Pacific. Acquisition purchases in the library’s areas of concentration are augmented by gifts from researchers, writers, and others. A vigorous publications exchange program annually secures for the library more than 250 serial titles and many important monographs. Works acquired in trade for various titles published by NTBG are often unavailable or difficult to acquire any other way. This is due at least in part to currency exchange issues or limited resources for distribution by the publishing institution. The library's publications exchange program, in turn, assists in the dissemination of the NTBG's publications, such as Allertonia, to botanical institutions in over 50 countries worldwide.
In 2005 the library initiated digitization of selected rare botanical and horticultural prints and other images that have high scholarly value in order to make them available online to an international audience and extend access to its collections to researchers and students who are not able to travel to Hawai‘i.
Loy McCandless Marks Botanical Library
Book collecting is first and foremost an expression of love, as is made explicit in the term bibliophile. For those collectors with the vision and enthusiasm of Loy McCandless Marks, books are the focus of a deeply felt emotion, an expression of an important part of their personalities, an enlargement and intensification of their lives. Mrs. Marks assembled the finest personal collection of exceptional botanical illustrated books in the United States. In consultation with Hawai‘i botanists such as Joseph Rock and Horace Clay, she collected over 5,000 titles, with an emphasis on tropical and subtropical botany and horticulture. The collection includes rare volumes of herbals, botanical history voyages of discovery, floras, and monographs. It is especially strong in 18th and 19th century botanical literature and early Renaissance herbals, with some works representing impressive first steps from medieval superstition to modern botany.
NTBG acquired this magnificent collection from Mrs. Marks’ estate in 1997. In recognition of her creation of this unparalleled collection, as well as her visionary role in the creation of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, the entire collection of books at NTBG’s research headquarters has been named the Loy McCandless Marks Botanical Library.
Data as of August 2006