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Library History

The Helen Fowler Library was founded in 1948 and was originally associated with the Colorado Forestry and Horticulture Association. The library was located at 1355 Bannock Street in Denver until the merging of the Colorado Forestry and Horticulture Association and the Denver Botanic Gardens in 1960, when new headquarters became available at 909 York Street.

The library is named for Helen K. Fowler (1879-1960) who, with her husband, John, owned Shadow Valley Gardens in Wheat Ridge. Active members of the Colorado Forestry and Horticulture Association, the Fowlers were devoted to the horticultural development of Colorado. In 1947, Helen Fowler donated her own collection of 500 books to establish a horticultural reference library for the Horticulture Association and continued her efforts to improve the library under the honorary title of librarian; Helen, and others who operated the library, were untrained as professional librarians. She passed away in 1960, the year the Colorado Forestry and Horticulture Association and the Denver Botanic Gardens merged and moved into its present location.

Through the years, the Helen Fowler Library has continued to expand its collections through donation and purchases. The gift of the James J. Waring collection of rare herbals and gardening monographs established the foundation of a rare book collection at the Helen Fowler Library, while contributions from local plant societies and botanists have added substantially to the library’s research literature. The library was moved to its present location in the Boettcher Memorial Center in 1971, when its first paid librarian was hired.

Today, the Helen Fowler Library houses diverse collections that include upwards of 25,000 book titles and 200 serials, audio-visual materials, and special collections and archives on all subjects relating to plants, gardening and Denver Botanic Gardens.