Library Catalogs

The Academy online library catalog contains the holdings of the Academy Library and Naturalist Center including books, journals, videos/DVDs, computer files, maps, and rare books.

The Melvyl® Catalog is available through the Web and is hosted by the California Digital Library. It is a combined catalog for the University of California campuses.

As of June 2011, the Melvyl® has moved to an OCLC WorldCat Local interface. For more information, click here

The Online Archive of California (OAC) provides free public access to descriptions of primary resource collections maintained by more than 150 contributing institutions, including the California Academy of Sciences.  The OAC lists basic records for much of the Academy's Manuscript Collections, as well as fuller finding aids for selected holdings.  New finding aids are added to the OAC on an ongoing basis.  The Academy Library also maintains a more complete list of our manuscript holdings.


The Academy Library provides internal access to a wide variety of electronic journals. You can find eJournals by browsing the following pages, or by searching for titles in the Academy's web catalog For information on access to electronic journals, please see a Library staff member.


***When you see MW and a number in a date range, it means that the journal has a "moving wall." A moving wall is a publisher instituted policy that restricts access to recently published materials. The number after the MW indicates for how many years the publisher restricts access.


The Library also maintains a list of journal available free online, regardless of Academy affiliation. Click below to browse freely accessible journals.

Databases & Indexes

The Academy Library provides access to a variety of general and subject-oriented databases.  These resources are available to search for article citations and the occasional book or government report.

California Wild Magazine archive

California Wild was the quarterly natural history magazine of the California Academy of Sciences. Stories focused on the wildlife, history, and environment of the West, but often roamed much farther afield. Story topics ranged from astronomy to ants, interviews with leading researchers and the ways in which humans change the natural environment. Each story is accompanied by images from some of the finest nature photographers working today. Back issues from 1994-2005 are available online.


Digital Library Collections

The Academy Library provides access to a variety of digital library collections. These resources furnish users with access to full books, manuscripts, periodicals, images, and other materials of particular scientific and research interest from library, university, and scientific academy collections and archives from around the world.


An online information resource about botanical bibliography

Academy of Natural Sciences Philadelphia Digital Library The collections include images from the remarkable natural history books and archival materials in the holdings of the Academy.
American Museum of Natural History Digital Collections Provides links to a number of digital collections, notably the Darwin Manuscripts Project and materials from the American Museum 1909-15 expedition to the Congo.
Animal Base - Early Zoological Literature Online Open access to historical zoological works and manually verified lists of zoological genera and specifes names.
Biodiversity Heritage Library The digitization component of the Encyclopedia of Life, providing open access to historic biodiversity literature texts. 
BioLib  Historic and modern biology books. Dutch site.
Botanicus Portal to digital historic botany literature from the Missouri Botanical Garden Library.
British Museum The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. 
Center for History of Science at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Complete Academy archives, as well as the archives of notable Swedish scientists and scientific organizations. 
Core Historical Literature of Agriculture A core electronic collection of agricultural texts published between the early nineteenth century and the middle to late twentieth century. Full-text materials cover agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, animal science, crops and their protection, food science,forestry, human nutrition, rural sociology, and soil science. 
Darwin Correspondence Project Available here are complete transcripts of all known letters Darwin wrote and received up to the year 1869.

Digital Orchid Library

The Digital Orchid Library is a collaboration between Michigan State University, the American Orchid Society, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the National Agricultural Library.
Gallica Digital Library The digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and its partners.
Hathi Trust Digital Library HathiTrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.
JSTOR Plant Sciences A community-contributed database that features more than two million high resolution plant type specimen images and other foundational materials from the collections of hundreds of herbaria around the world. 
List of Free Science Books An alphabetical, primarlily physics based, books available in digital format.
New York Botanical Garden International Plant Science Center Digital collections of herbaria, seed catalogs and more.
Public Library of Science Our mission is to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. Every article that we publish is open-access - freely available online for anyone to use. 
Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid An online information resource about botanical bibliography
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew:
Electronic documents from the world's leader in botanical classification.
Royal Society Centre for History of Science A gallery of high quality scans of some important and beautiful manuscripts.
SORA: Searchable Ornithological Research Archive Provides access to an extensive library of ornithological literature of international scope, and detailed material documenting the history of ornithology in North America over the last 120 years. 
Universitätsbibliothek Bielefeld Retrospective digitization of scientific review bodies and literary magazines of the 18th and 19 Century from the German-speaking journals of education.

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  • Who can use the Academy Library?

    The Library is open to all staff, students, and volunteers of the Academy during regular business hours (Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm).

    Members of the public with a legitimate research interest are welcome to use the collections by appointment.

  • Can I check out books from the Academy Library?

    Items from the Academy Library only circulate to Academy Staff for in-house use. Members of the public may view items in the Naturalist Center


  • How do I contact a Librarian?

    Librarians are generally available during regular business hours (Monday-Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm).

    We can help you with questions, provide referrals, or schedule an appointment for you to visit the Library.

    You can contact the Library by

    Phone: (415) 379-5484




  • How do I look up a book?

    All of the Academy Library and Naturalist Center book, journal, and multimedia holdings are listed in the Academy Library catalog.

    Confused? Watch a tutorial on searching the Academy Library catalog.

    There are many ways to find items in the Academy Library catalog.

    Watch a short tutorial

  • How do I find journal articles?

    The Academy Library offers access to a variety of databases and indexes, both free and subscription services.  You must be on-site at the Academy to use the subscription databases.

    Browse our Indexes & Databases

  • I know what I want, now how do I get it?

    First, look it up in the Catalog.

    If we don't own it, try the following:

    Academy Staff ONLY: Place an Interlibrary Loan request.

    If you do not have Academy Library borrowing privileges, try searching to see if a library near you owns the item.

  • Can I reuse or publish your photographs or other materials?

    In most cases, the answer is yes.  Please see Scanning, Reproduction & Use for more information.

  • How do I search for archival collections in the catalog?

    As a rule, those collections are not listed in the Library catalog.  You can browse the list of manuscript holdings here and you can search Archives image collections in the Manzanita Image Gallery.


    Please contact archives [at] calacademy [dot] org with any questions.

  • Can I volunteer at the Library?

    We periodically have volunteer opportunities for both short-term, project based and long-term assignments. 

    Please contact Volunteer Services if you are interested in becoming a Library volunteer.