Our mission is to facilitate access to scientific information and Academy history, to research the interconnectivity of information, and to seek out new ways of providing access to resources and records.

The Academy Library, founded in 1853, is a research library devoted to natural history and the natural sciences. Our subject strengths include Systematics and Taxonomy, Evolutionary Biology, Biodiversity, Biogeography, Local and Regional Natural Sciences, and Natural History. Our varied collections include books, journals (in print and online), photographs, slides, digital images, maps, primary source materials, and other media.

Library books


Our collections include the Research, Reference, Rare Books, and Serials sections, as well as Map Collections and the Archives—home to materials related to the history of the Academy itself. And that's just for starters.

Items from the Academy Library are available by appointment only for in-house use. In order to facilitate wide research use, materials from our library are non-circulating and cannot leave the California Academy of Sciences. To make an appointment or to receive help finding a book or resource, contact the library at library@calacademy.org.


Image of Academy library staff- 1968


Library collections are curated and maintained by Academy librarians in close consultation with museum curators. We're available by appointment to Academy staff, members, educators, students, and volunteers,  and the community at large.


Images from multiple projects


In addition to providing extensive reference and resource assistance, we challenge ourselves to explore new ways of offering access to information, facilitating interactions with resources, and collaborating with peer institutions to deliver new and cutting-edge ways to learn about science and the history of science.

Hood Island Marine Iguana, from the Manzanita Collection

Online Resources

From databases of our own holdings—including the expansive Academy Library catalog and Image Gallery—to partnerships such as The Online Archive of California (OAC) and Manzanita Image Project, we offer countless ways to access hundreds of years of natural-science history. 



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Library FAQs

Library FAQs

Can I borrow a book? How do I volunteer? Who can use the library? Click below for answers to these and other frequently asked questions.