lions and tigers and zoo librarianship, oh my!

This year at SLA Toronto Student Group we decided to make an effort to showcase the sheer variety of special libraries out there. Often, the focus is on law or corporate libraries. While these can be great places to work, most library students know about them.


So when I stumbled upon the San Diego Zoo Library, my first reaction was: THIS EXISTS? I have been thinking about special libraries for the past year now and yet this still surprised me. It also made me beyond excited.

From the San Diego Zoo Library website:

Our Mission. The Library is dedicated to supporting San Diego Zoo Global’s mission by providing outstanding information resources and research services to advance knowledge and strengthen our organization’s capacity to save species worldwide.

Our Vision. We will empower San Diego Zoo Global to lead the fight against extinction by serving as the organization’s information hub and facilitating research of the highest quality.



As with many special libraries embedded within other organizations, the library is mainly a resource for San Diego Zoo Global staff and volunteers and is not generally open to the public, as the librarian I spoke with told me. This is due to organizational policies and limited time.

Although their mandate is to support researchers at the zoo, they have many public resources. These include the extremely detailed Fact Sheets, Research Guides, and even a Sperm Atlas. These resources are particularly useful for educators and other librarians.

A highlight from the Fact Sheets: Short-Faced Bear, Actodus

Source: San Diego Zoo Library

Besides providing detailed facts, the librarians have also included sections called “How Do We Know This?”throughout fact sheets about extinct species, explaining the scientific processes of discovery.


The following are a few resources about zoo librarianship, to help you get on your way!

  1. Zoo and Wildlife Libraries: An International Survey
    • Study by Linda L. Coats and Kaitlyn Rose Tierney, who work for San Diego Zoo in Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship (2010)
  2. Exhibit: San Diego Zoo Safari Park: Celebrating 40 Years
  3. Blog post about the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Library
    • A great article about a tour of the Zoo and Aquarium Library
  4. National Zoological Park Library
  5. Zoological Society of London Library
    • Open to the public
    • Comprehensive collection of literature, paintings and prints, resources about zoos, and modern books.
  6. American Zoo and Aquarium Association Librarian’s Special Interest Group Listserv
    • I would highly recommend joining this listserv if you’re interested in the field! You don’t have to be a member of the Association.
  7. Recommended List of Books and Other Information Resources for Zoo and Aquarium Libraries
    • This bibliography from the Smithsonian Libraries is a bit dated (1996) but may be of general interest!


This is just a quick look at zoo libraries. If you know more (especially about zoo libraries in Canada) or have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment!

This entry was published on January 10, 2016 at 8:58 pm. It’s filed under special libraries and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “lions and tigers and zoo librarianship, oh my!

  1. Thanks for the Cbus Libraries’ mention on the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium’s library!


  2. Pingback: Lions & tigers & zoo librarianship, oh my! | SLA Toronto Student Group!

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