Sarah Fore Gaines Library
The Garden’s reference library, including the Addie Totten Collection, is housed in the James & Delight Allen Education Center. It contains books, journals, and other reference materials on horticulture, botany, plants of the southeastern United States, and natural history. This reference library is open to the public during regular visiting hours, though materials may not be checked out.
Search NCBG Library in the UNC Library Catalog
The Sarah Fore Gaines Library opened in 2010 in the James & Delight Allen Education Center. Sarah, then married to NCBG’s founding director Dr. C. Ritchie Bell, was a champion of NCBG from its earliest days; she also volunteered after retiring from teaching at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (formerly Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina). Sarah Fore Gaines and her second husband, John Gaines, held NCBG in high esteem and left a generous bequest for the library space, which now bears her name.
Before the creation of the Sarah Fore Gaines Library, the library was known as the Addie Totten Library. It was located in the Totten Center, named for Dr. Roland and Addie Totten, who bequeathed their house and furnishings to NCBG. The original library space in the Totten Center was a small room with a large glass window located just inside the Totten Center foyer. The library outgrew the small room and was relocated to the Totten Center small classroom.
The initial books were donated by Addie Totten, who was an especially strong advocate for gardening and horticulture; she was also the president of the Garden Club of North Carolina. The library collection grew quickly as many other people donated suitable books.
When William Lanier Hunt, NCBG benefactor and first president of the BGF, died in 1996, he left his extensive collection of horticultural books to NCBG. Many of his books are published in and relevant to England/the U.K. Some are rare books as these were another interest of his. There are thousands of these books that are being catalogued. Private individuals continue to donate their pertinent books to the library.
Today all of NCBG’s library books are divided between the Sarah Fore Gaines Library, the Colvard Room, and the Hunt Archives Room (rare books are in the Hunt Archives Room). The library will eventually be moved, when an herbarium and plant research center are built.
From 1975 until her retirement, Dot Wilbur-Brooks was the staff liaison for library volunteers, including Villa Zala, Kitty Harding, Barbara Emerson, and Mary Ishaq (all now deceased). Dot currently serves as volunteer librarian. Five other volunteers help on a regular basis with the very large project of cataloguing the growing collection of botanical and horticultural books.