Grants and Awards

American Institute for Conservation, Ross Merrill Award, May 2019

The Lenhardt Library is the recipient of the Ross Merrill Award for Outstanding Commitment to the Preservation and Care of Collections. This award honors institutions in North America that have shown an exemplary and sustained commitment to conservation and collections care through interpretation, research, scholarship, education, and/or public outreach. It is bestowed by the American Institute of Conservation, the leading membership association for conservators who preserve cultural heritage. The more than 3,500 individuals representing more than forty countries, work in collections care across the globe, with the goal of preserving cultural heritage in order to learn from it today and appreciate it in the future.

Community Science Literature Project: Transcribing Scientific Notebooks, April 2019

The 19th century hand-written notebooks of German orchidologist Kränzlin, and French lily specialist Duchartre, are in the process of being transcribed, now through spring 2020. You can help—become a Community Scientist! Help us transcribe Kränzlin's and Duchartre's research—get to know the botanists and their associates, and possibly make some discoveries of your own! You can transcribe anytime, anywhere. All you need is a computer with internet, the ability to read 19th century handwriting, and an interest in botany.

Look over the Community Science Literature Transcription Guidelines and send an email to Click here to show mail address to join this amazing project.

Illinois State Library Grant For Digitization, July 2018

The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lenhardt Library has received a grant award of $73,368 from the Illinois State Library for digitization. This grant, for uniquely held items in Illinois, allows us to digitize one-of-a-kind handwritten, nineteenth-century manuscripts for which no other copy exists. The scientific notebooks of German orchidologist Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Kränzlin and French lily specialist Pierre Étienne Simon Duchartre will also be transcribed.

Also being digitized is Garden Talk, the Chicago Horticultural Society’s membership magazine that was published from 1945 to 2007. Reflected in this publication are Chicago’s gardening trends and fads, gardening techniques, edible gardens, sustainable gardens, and ecological strategies. Over the 18-month grant period that began on July 1, 2018, these resources will be uploaded to the Illinois Digital Archives (IDA), an open and freely accessible repository for digital collections of Illinois libraries and cultural institutions containing historical documents.

With digitized and openly accessible online resources, the Garden will shares its gems across the world. 

National Endowment for the Humanities Grant for the Digitization and Conservation of Rare Books, April 2018

The Lenhardt Library of the Chicago Botanic Garden has received a $202,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the conservation and digitization of 62 rare and unique “language of flower” books published in the nineteenth century. Over the next three years, the volumes will be conserved and digitized by expert staff at the Northeast Document Conservation Center. The charming books with colorful illustrations of flowers, bouquets, and floral poetry, will be subsequently uploaded to the Biodiversity Heritage Library where they will be freely available to a global audience for research and enjoyment.

NEH logo

Note: Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations on this web page do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Lenhardt Library Receives Illinois State Library Grant to Provide Web Access for Historical Documents, January 2015

A $67,000 digital imaging grant from the Illinois State Library will enable the Lenhardt Library to share historically significant documents with a wider number of scholars, gardening enthusiasts and members of the general public. The Chicago Botanic Garden library is one of 13 statewide to receive a total of $485,779 in grants for preserving and providing web access to historical collections. Read more in our press release:

National Endowment For The Humanities: Supporting The Digitization And Preservation Of Rare Botanical Volumes

With a $172,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lenhardt Library conserved and enhanced access to 44 rare, fragile, and valuable botanical volumes dating from the sixteenth through twentieth centuries. Horticultural professionals, scientists, scholars, students, art historians, and members of the general public can now explore the beautifully illustrated volumes providing insights into the development of modern scientific disciplines and the evolving relationship between humans and nature. The works were digitized and widely disseminated to fill gaps in the nation’s digital archives of works in the humanities. The text and images can be viewed via the Illinois Digital Archives (IDA) portal, where the Garden’s digital holdings are stored. Additional interpretation is available through LibGuides. The conserved volumes are safely housed the Library, where they are used to support scholarly research and enrich interpretive programs, including rare book exhibitions and tours for patrons of area public libraries. The conservation, digitization, and dissemination project furthered the Library’s efforts to create a botanical collection in service of the Garden’s scientific, horticultural, cultural, and educational mission. All involved are deeply grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for its support in this vital effort. Read an NEH article on the grant.

Read more about this grant.

Note: Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations on this web page do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Save America's Treasures

Save America’s Treasures, a federal government program that helps conserve significant U.S. cultural and historic treasures, recently awarded the Chicago Botanic Garden a $55,000 grant to help preserve its rare books collection. This award is given by a consortium that includes the National Endowment for the Humanities, the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, the Institute of Museum & Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Park Service. The Garden was the only location in Illinois to receive a grant this year.

Library Services and Technology

The Lenhardt Library was recently awarded a $25,000 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White for its Serial Cataloging Project, which will catalog historic journals acquired from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 2002. LSTA grants are designed to assist librarians in identifying and funding specific local needs. They also provide funds to libraries that support cataloging services.

“With this grant we will be able to catalog approximately 700 historic journals, making them available for Illinois residents,” said Leora Siegel, director of the Lenhardt Library. “Cataloging is the first step toward future conservation and digitizing projects, which will further public access to these journals.”

Conservation Bookshelf from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

The Lenhardt Library was awarded 16 books from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Connecting to Collections Bookshelf. The Bookshelf is intended to provide small and mid-sized libraries and museums with essential, permanent resources needed to improve the condition of their collections. The books are used as a reference tool for those who are caring for our nation’s collections.