Reference Library

library_square_libraryA collection of more than 18,000 volumes concerning Mississippi's natural history supports the various programs and research efforts of the Museum. The library started as a donation of materials by Miss Fannye A. Cook in 1965 and has grown to become the most complete and up to date collection of natural history materials in the state. Please call ahead to arrange a library visit.

The mission of the Library is to provide high quality information services on natural history subjects. The Library meets our clientele's information needs through a variety of services utilizing the Library and Archival collections, resource sharing with other libraries, and accessing information available electronically.


Who Uses the Library?
The Library's primary clients are the staff of the Museum and the fisheries and game biologists of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. Other clients include Museum Foundation members, scientists, historians, artists, elementary through graduate students, corporations and government agencies, and members of the public with an interest in Mississippi's natural environment.


Research Materials
The nucleus of the Library is a collection of materials donated in 1965 by Miss Fannye Cook, the Museum's first Director. The Library houses the most complete collection of natural history materials in the state and is always seeking to provide users with access to current resources for research and learning. The collection consists primarily of materials dealing with the identification of Mississippi's flora and fauna, their habitats, conservation, and management. Materials on botany, zoology, ecology, freshwater biology, muselogy, law, and legislation, with an emphasis on endangered species, environmental impact statements, and plant and animal communities, create a remarkable body of knowledge on Mississippi's natural history. The 18,000 volume library functions as a support facility for the various programs and research efforts of the Museum and the materials collected reflect these endeavors.


A special collection of scientific reprints includes early papers collected by Miss Cook, articles on Gopher Tortoise research, freshwater mussels, and a complete collection of reprints on the botany of Mississippi. A complete collection of Museum Technical Reports, Freshwater Fisheries Reports, and Game Reports of the MDWFP is also maintained. Information is provided in a variety of formats: books, government reports, electronic materials, periodicals, videos, slides, and cd's.


The Library receives over 100 scientific journals and newsletters representing all the major natural science disciplines, with complete runs of the principle titles. Emphasis is also placed on periodicals that pertain to conservation efforts in Mississippi and the south. The current year's issues are displayed on open shelves in the reading room. After the year and/or volume are/is complete, the issues are bound and shelved in alphabetical order in the stacks.


The Library's collection is complemented by an extensive collection of archival items. The archives is comprised not only of administrative records and official Museum and MDWFP documents, but also special collections which include the Fannye Cook Papers and the WPA Papers, which contain hand colored maps and photographic documentation of the historic WPA Plant and Animal Survey of Mississippi conducted by Fannye Cook. Portions of the archives have been brought together in a special collection that documents the History of Wildlife Conservation in Mississippi. Unpublished manuscripts of early scientists who worked in Mississippi, such as Aldo Leopold, Benjamin Leonard Covington Wailes, O. P. Hay, Samuel F. Hildebrand, Eugene W. Hilgard, and Ephraim Noble Lowe are also held.


The Library's collection, products, and services have been developed in response to specific information needs of the Museum staff. Today's services include reference assistance, interlibrary loan, document delivery, verification of citations, and searching electronic information sources (commercially available databases, CD-ROM products, the Internet, and the World Wide Web).


Reference Assistance
Basic Reference Assistance is provided to anyone who visits the Library for locating factual information in the Library's collection and for assistance with detailed research work. The staff will answer some questions over the telephone.


Access to Materials
Access to materials is provided through an online catalog system. The catalog can be searched by author, title, and subject. The Library uses the Library of Congress classification system for book arrangement. Access to scientific articles is available to the public from INGENTA, EBSCOHOST, ABSEARCH and WILDLIFE & FISHERIES WORLDWIDE via the internet.


Interlibrary Loan
Interlibrary Loan is available for the Museum Staff and cooperators through the national computer database called OCLC, which provides access to the holdings of other libraries nation-wide.


Borrowing Privileges are reserved for the Museum's Staff, cooperators and members of the Museum, however the general public may use the collection in the Reading Room. A copy machine is located near the library and is available for making photocopies from library materials at a cost of $.25 per image.


Recommended Books
This list of references is the best available for identifying Mississippi's flora and fauna. Most can be found at local bookstores or public libraries and all are available for use within the Museum Library. All of these books are suitable for amateur naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts, as well as scientists. There are other more technical materials useful for further research and study, which are available for use within the Museum Library. Make an appointment with the Museum Librarian to visit the Library to increase your knowledge and enjoyment of Mississippi's wildlife.

Click here for the list of books available.

  • Birds
  • Invertebrates
  • Fish
  • Fossils
  • Mammals
  • Plants
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
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