History of the Library

Library Mission

The Marie Louise Rosenthal Library is committed to supporting the Museum’s mission as an educational and research institution concerned with diversity and relationships in nature and among cultures. We seek to provide convenient and effective access to quality library services, research collections and information resources to meet the scientific, professional, and creative needs of the research and educational communities.

Library History

The formation of the Library began in 1894 with the initial transfer of books from the libraries of various departments of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.  Since its organization, the Library’s holdings have grown to include over 275,000 volumes of books and journals and other 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. The Library collections are available to a broad spectrum of users.  Chief among these are the Museum’s staff and research associates, volunteers, interns, as well as visiting researchers, specialists, and scholars from around the world.