Sterling Morton Library

Library Collections

Explore the Sterling Morton Library’s extensive collections, including archives, rare publications, and art.

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Collections in the Library

The Sterling Morton Library is a community of collections, resources and able information navigators to support your exploration, research and discovery of plant knowledge. With collections mainly focused on botany, horticulture and related subjects, the library presents a wide range of resources from highly scientific works to general gardening guides to a robust children’s collection.

Search the library’s collections:

  • Online: Search the SWAN catalog to discover the holdings of the Sterling Morton Library circulating, reference, and journal collections.
  • In person: These materials can be viewed in person in the library’s reading room. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the reading room is currently closed to the public, but items can be requested on SWAN and retrieved via curbside pickup. Please contact the library at 630-719-2429 or library@mortonarb.org for more information.

Borrow resources from the library’s circulating collection:

One of the benefits of membership at the Arboretum is borrowing privileges at the Sterling Morton Library. If you are a member and would like to register for a card, please complete this form to apply for borrowing privileges. And if you aren’t an Arboretum member, join now!

How to use your library card:

  • Borrow books up to six books from the Sterling Morton Library for four weeks at a time.
  • The books will automatically renew for an additional four weeks if there isn’t a hold on an item.
  • Use your card to gain access to thousands of botanical and horticultural eBooks through the eBook Collection.

e-book Collection

Through a consortium of botanical and horticultural libraries, thousands of eBooks on botany and horticulture are available for digital borrowing for Arboretum staff, members, and volunteers.

Access the e-book collection:

  • Visit e-book Central for access to the Sterling Morton Library e-book Collection.
  • Enter your official Sterling Morton Library patron barcode number (found on the back of your Sterling Morton Library card) in the box. Hint: Your patron number will begin with: 28070. No spaces are necessary.

​Not sure or need a reminder of your patron number?

Contact a library staff member in person, by phone 630-719-2429 or via email at library@mortonarb.org.

Haven’t registered in the Library yet?

Stop by the library soon or complete this application.

Arboretum Archives

Part of the Suzette Morton Davidson Special Collections, the Arboretum’s archives house not only the historical and operating records of the Arboretum, but also the papers of several prominent landscape designers and naturalists.

The Arboretum archives includes thousands of original manuscript materials, artifacts, audiovisual materials, maps, photographic images, and even a collection of butterfly and moth specimens collected in 1895. These materials may be viewed in person or online.

View the archives:

  • Online: Search ACORN (Arboretum COllections & Resources Nexus) to explore and view the library’s special collections online. New resources are added to the system on a regular basis as a part of ongoing cataloguing and digitization efforts.
  • In person: To view these materials in person, please make an appointment.

Within the archives can be found:

Rare Publications Collections

The Rare Publications Collection contains more than 5,000 volumes, including journals, nursery catalogs, and books, some dating back to the fifteenth century. This special collection contains a significant group of herbals, books that detail the medicinal uses of plants; works by and about Linnaeus; and publications about trees, gardening, nature printing, and landscape architecture.

View the library’s rare publications:

  • Online: Search ACORN (Arboretum COllections & Resources Nexus) to explore and view the library’s special collections online. New resources are added to the system on a regular basis as a part of ongoing cataloging and digitization efforts.
  • In-person: To view these materials in person, please make an appointment.

This collection includes a wide variety of historic works on paper:

Art Collection

The Art Collection contains more than 12,000 works of art, including original paintings; drawings in pen and ink, colored pencil, and scratchboard; nearly 1,000 nature prints, including lithographs, etchings, engravings, and aquatints; and commercial reproductions of images of plants and the insects and animals related to them.

View the art collection:

  • Online: Search ACORN (Arboretum COllections and Resources Nexus) to explore and view the library’s special collections online. New resources are added to the system on a regular basis as a part of ongoing cataloging and digitization efforts.
  • In-person: To view these materials in person, please make an appointment.

Some highlights of this collection include: