The Society's collection of printed books cover the literature of biology from 1483 to date, with especially strong collections of eighteenth and nineteenth century titles in all languages. Special areas of interest include plant and animal classification, Darwinism and the evolutionary controversy, conchology, ornithology, early mycology, expedition reports, ecology, and wildlife conservation. There is a great number of annotated books by either the author or the owner of the book.
Please use our online catalogue to explore the full range of our library holdings.
The rare books held by the Society cover a spectrum of scientific publishing from the 15th to the 19th century, with particular strengths in 16th and 17th century herbals, botanical tracts, materia medica, economic botany (especially tea and the tea trade), and lavishly produced prestige works of botanical and zoological illustration. All told they form one of the most important collections of rare natural history publications outside of a major research library, and their well-documented provenance as the property of an 18th-century learned society make them an invaluable resource for scholars of the history of science.
All the Society's rare and early printed books have been catalogued and can be searched for via our online catalogue. Work to retrospectively improve the quality of our rare books cataloguing is ongoing.
A significant number of books from the private library of Carl Linnaeus have been digitised, and can be examined on our dedicated, open access platform, Linnean Online.
The library currently receives approximately 50 journal titles in hardcopy, subscribes to some 200 electronic journals, and holds over 4,000 earlier titles in store (many from academic institutions, and including some dating from the seventeenth century). The Society possesses titles in a multitude of languages, from dozens of countries, and covering a wide spectrum of the biological sciences. Cataloguing of the Society's journals holdings is ongoing. Please contact the librarian if you are looking for a specific title.
A list of journals titles currently received by the Society in print is available here. Regrettably, it is no longer possible to retain back issues of all titles received. Again, please ask library staff if you require a specific title or issue.
Online access to journals titles is provided by JSTOR Life Sciences. Please click here to browse the collection. Please note: online journals access is restricted to library PCs, and personal devices connected to the Society's network at Burlington House. Please speak with library staff if you require assistance.