Library Resources

The Library’s collections are an indispensable resource for the Museum’s research, exhibit development and educational programs.

The Library’s holdings include over 275,000 volumes of books and journals, along with significant special collections of archives, manuscripts, photo archives and original natural history illustrations. The strengths of the Library collections closely parallel the strengths of the Museum’s scientific collections in the fields of anthropology, botany, geology, paleontology and zoology. The collections emphasize biological systematics, evolutionary biology, geology, archaeology, ethnology and material culture.

There are several tools available to discover more about the Library's collections and other electronic content.


  • WorldCat Online Catalog

    The online catalog contains bibliographic records for the books and journals in the Library's general and rare book collections as well as collections throughout the world.

  • Journal TOCs

    The largest free collection of scholarly journals Tables of Contents (TOCs)

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Collection Locations

The print collections of The Field Museum Library are located in various locations throughout the building.

The general circulating collection is located in 9 different stack areas throughout the building. Adjacent to the reading room in rooms 3210 & 3206 are the "Main" collection that include the subject areas of: History, Geography, Museum Studies, Anthropology and the general periodicals in science, natural history and zoology.

There are 8 departmental/divisional collections located near the departments they primarily serve. They are: Botany, Geology, & the 6 divisions of Zoology (Birds, Mammals, Insects, Invertebrates, Fishes, Amphibians & Reptiles). While these collections are not housed among the main library collection, they are still maintained by library staff. See associated file below to locate the call number ranges for each collection.

Here are more collection locations (with descriptions) that you will find on our online catalog:

The Reference collection is located in the main reading room. It includes: foreign languge dictionaries, oversized atlases and encyclopedias. These materials are non-circulating.
This collection is located at the Reference Desk. It includes: Field Museum publications, exhibition guides and published materials specifically pertaining to museum history and collections history. These materials are non-circulating.
This collection is housed in the "crypt" or caged in area in room 3210. It includes: "rare" and fragile materials.
This location is housed in the rare book room. Items cataloged in the rare book room do not follow the Library of Congress Classification System. Most rare book call numbers include: R.B., Collection Name, Year of publication and Number of slot when item was acquired (ex., Gen. 1810.2). Collection names include: Gen. (General), Laufer, Ayer, Kunz, Misc. (Miscellaneous).
This collection is also housed in the rare book room and serves as a frequently used reference collection. These materials are non-circulating.
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Journal Abbreviations

Abbreviated journal titles can be a challenge for researchers. Below is a list of various print and electronic resources to help decipher journal abbreviations:

Electronic Resource Guides

Print Resources (available at the Reference Desk)

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