About the Library

Who We Serve

Steenbock Memorial Library is the primary resource library for the students, faculty, and research staff of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's

The library is also open to the public.

Steenbock Memorial Library is NOT associated with these locations:

Subject Specialities and Collections

Steenbock Library provides access to an outstanding research-level collection of agriculture, life sciences, veterinary medicine, and human ecology materials.

The library collects in the areas of animal behavior, bacteriology, biochemistry, biotechnology, botany, community and environmental sociology, ecology, entomology, evolutionary biology, food science, forestry, genetics, human and animal nutrition, landscape architecture, natural resources, ornithology, plant and animal anatomy, systematics, wildlife and fisheries management, veterinary medicine and zoology, in addition to traditional agricultural subjects such as horticulture, dairy science, and soil science.

The collection also includes fashion, textile arts and sciences, and interior design materials in support of programs in the School of Human Ecology.

Steenbock Library also owns notable collections in a number of specialized subjects such as cookery, horses and horsemanship, pigeon breeding and racing, and one of the finest collections of historical bee-keeping materials in the world. Many of these specialized collections are integrated into the regular collections at Steenbock Library while some are housed in the environmentally controlled vaults in the Memorial Library Department of Special Collections.

Steenbock Library government documents collection has a virtually complete collection of the publications of the U. S. Department of Agriculture and its sub-agencies, of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and of the Census of Agriculture. The library also has many agricultural and life sciences publications from other federal agencies, Wisconsin and other state governments, extension programs and experiment stations of the land grant universities, foreign governments, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and other international organizations.

The library holds more than 124,000 books, more than 493,000 government publications, and has current subscriptions to hundreds of print and electronic journals.

Library History

In 1888, Professor Stephen Babcock, Wisconsin's pioneering dairy scientist, donated his first salary check to establish a library for the University of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. This collection of books was moved from South Hall to the newly built Agriculture Hall in 1903. The library became a department of the College of Agriculture in 1924 and moved into its own building in 1969.

The new building, Steenbock Memorial Library, was named for Dr. Harry Steenbock (1886-1967) who in the 1920's developed an inexpensive method of enriching foods with Vitamin D. His discovery led to the eradication of rickets, the bone-deforming deficiency disease, throughout most of the world. Dr. Steenbock assigned his patents for this and other advances in human and animal nutrition to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), an independent organization for the support of research at the University of Wisconsin. Accumulated royalties from Dr. Steenbock's patents, provided through WARF, supplied about half the funds for the library's construction.

In 1974, Steenbock Library became a member library of the General Library System at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1990 Steenbock Memorial Library was named "Library of the Year" by the Wisconsin Library Association.