Research Library

The Virginia Museum of Natural History Library is open to the public, offering a wealth of natural history information and publications. The VMNH Library fittingly supports and enhances the work performed within the museum by focusing on topics that VMNH scientists research, VMNH educators teach, and the public can explore within the museum's exhibits.
From students seeking information for research projects to hobbyists hoping to learn more about natural history, the VMNH Library is a wonderful source of information. With over 7,000 titles in the collection, which includes books, journals, and magazines, all aspects of natural history - plants, animals, insects, geology, paleontology, and archaeology - are covered.

Materials range from classics to brand new publications on cutting edge discoveries and research. VMNH also participates in a publications exchange program with other museums and universities around the world, which has greatly enriched the library collection.

Because of the nature of the material, the library best serves people with at least a middle school understanding of science and natural history. However, the museum's full-time librarian, Mary Catherine Santoro, is always on hand to help all visitors.

"I answer questions from visitors and staff, and people who can't make it to the museum are welcome to phone or e-mail for help," Santoro said.

Although the books don't circulate, the VMNH Library is an excellent setting for visitors. Equipped with tables and chairs, natural lighting, and Wi-Fi internet access, the library is a perfect place for in-depth research or for use by anyone wanting a comfortable setting to spend an hour reading a good nature book.


The museum's online catalog is now available to the public.  Please click here to access the VMNH Library online catalog. Look for additional materials to be added to the catalog in the coming months.

Library Quick Facts
  • The oldest materials are from 1833 – the same year Chicago was founded.
  • The newest materials were published this year.
  • The smallest book is 3 ½” by 5 ½” – roughly the size of an index card.
  • The largest book is by 14 ½” by 10 ¼”.
  • Though most materials are in English, there are also books and journals in German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Slovene, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Urdu, and Swahili.

To learn more about the museum's research library, please contact Mary Catherine Santoro at, or call 276-634-4172.