History of the Library

Our vast and comprehensive Library collections are built on the efforts of Museum librarians, scientists and generous donors.

  • The Natural History Museum from Cromwell Road, 1880.
    Humble beginnings

    Building a world-class collection of literature from scratch.

  • Helianthus annuus, sunflower.
    Growth and changes

    Our librarians procured important works, implemented a cataloguing system, and protected our collections from damage during the Second World War. 

  • The Library today
    The Library today

    Every year we welcome up to 3000 visitors, provide access to 5000 items, and answer 13,000 enquiries.

  •  Sir Walter Rothschild's Necropsittacus borbonicus
    Bequests and presentations

    The Library collections are enhanced by a number of important donations, including the vast collection of Sir Walter Rothschild.

  • Entomology Library stacks
    Arranging the collections

    The Museum libraries are organised to provide easy access for scientists and researchers.

  • Bernard Barham Woodward (1853-1930)
    Heads of the Library Service

    The dedicated Librarians who helped build our world-class collections.

Sperm whale skeleton, 1901.
Museum Archives

Learn about the official records and historical collection of the Natural History Museum.