Chicago Botanic Garden

for immediate release

Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lenhardt Library Awarded
National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

Supporting the digitization and preservation of
45 rare botanical volumes


Media Only:
Melissa Schuler
(847) 835-6829, direct

GLENCOE, Ill. (November 16, 2011) — The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lenhardt Library was recently awarded a $172,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund a project that will digitize and preserve 45 rare and unique botanical volumes, dating from the late sixteenth to the early twentieth century, which will be made publicly accessible via the Illinois Digital Archives. This project will enhance access to a unique cultural treasure by contributing rare volumes of educational value and public interest to the nation’s collection of digital works in the humanities.

Previously housed in the basement of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society (MHS), these rare books were subjected to a 1996 flood and kept there in unfavorable conditions due to insufficient staff and funding. This collection of books and journals encompasses five centuries of research on botany, gardening and landscape design. In 2002 the Chicago Botanic Garden purchased these rare books and journals, ensuring the heart of this historic collection will remain together and preserving the cultural history and literature of its discipline.

“These volumes present an outstanding opportunity for researchers and students to map the history of ideas as well as chart the evolution of the modern science of botany, and discover the relationships between science and art, botany and medicine, and humans and nature,” said Leora Siegel, director of the Lenhardt Library.

The Woman's Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society established the Lenhardt Library in 1951. In 1959 it contained 584 volumes. With the opening of the Chicago Botanic Garden and its Education Center in 1976, the Library's growing collection of 6,000 books moved to a new facility to better meet the needs of its users.

Today the collections of the Library hold approximately 110,500 volumes in 32,500 book and periodical titles. This includes 2,800 periodicals, 3,300 rare books, 750 DVDs and videos, 10,000 slides, 1,000 nursery catalogs, and the archives of the Chicago Horticultural Society.

The Lenhardt Library is located in the Regenstein Center. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and by appointment; closed on holidays. Members have borrowing privileges.

Admission to the Chicago Botanic Garden is free. Select event fees apply. Parking is $20 per car; free for Garden members. For more information and to search the library collections, visit



Editors, please note: The Chicago Botanic Garden's newsroom is online at For digital images, contact Julie McCaffrey at (847) 835-8213 or at

Admission to the Chicago Botanic Garden is free. Select event fees apply. Parking is $20 per car; free for Garden members. For information about Garden programs and events, call (847) 835-5440, or visit

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