One of the best kept secrets in Riverside is the Olmsted Memorial Book Collection housed in the Riverside Public Library.

What began as the dream of two long serving members of the Frederick Law Olmsted Society became a reality when the Society partnered with the Board of Trustees of the Library on December 13, 1988 to establish, enhance and maintain a collection of Olmsted-related works.

Olmsted Society Board member Michael Higgins (of Higgins Glass fame) began by contributing his private collection of books by Olmsted, about Olmsted and books that influenced Olmsted throughout his life. All of the streets in Riverside that Olmsted named for his mentors, such as Michaux and Nuttall, are represented by works in the Collection. Another large portion of the Collection covers gardening, landscaping and Landscape Architecture. Higgins was aided by another Board member, Frances Winter, a professional librarian who catalogued and enlarged the collection.
From its humble beginning of about two hundred works, the Collection today numbers almost one thousand, including a number of rare books that do not circulate, but can be used in the Library. Olmsted's papers, written contemporaneously with his many major landscape projects throughout the U.S., are available on microfilm or in seven printed volumes. When the collection became sizable enough, the Olmsted Society commissioned special bookcases to be built to house the Collection, which is now located on the south east side of the main floor of the Library.

Currently, a Library Committee of the Olmsted Society reads and reviews suggested additions to the Collection, deciding whether a new work belongs with the wonderful works already on the shelves. The latest addition to the Collection is a small (323 pages) anthology of Frederick Law Olmsted's writings dating from the 1850's to the 1890's titled "Frederick Law Olmsted Essential Texts," edited by Robert Twombly.

For more information, including a searchable database of titles in the Collection, please visit The Frederick Law Olmsted Society of Riverside's website.

Click here for a printable brochure (PDF).