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. The library is open to the public Tuesday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

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, the Sterling Morton Library offers thousands of e-books for digital borrowing to Arboretum staff, members, and volunteers. This collection explores topics related to botany, horticulture, and the intersection of racial justice, anti-racism, and the environment. Access to this collection is via the unique patron number issued when registered in the Library and found on the back of your official Sterling Morton Library card.

Access the e-book collection:

  • You can access the Arboretum’s E-Book collection at the Consortium login page.
  • Enter your official Sterling Morton Library patron number found on the back of your Library card in the box. Hint: Your barcode 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 at 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 16,000 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: