The formation of a zoological library was among the initial aims of the Wildlife Conservation Society upon its founding in 1895 as the New York Zoological Society. In 1909, with the construction of the Administration Building, an official library space was created.
The WCS Archives formally began as a unit of the Library in 1979 with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the H. W. Wilson Foundation.
In addition to the Archives, the Library is composed of print and digital research collections focused on the topics of wildlife conservation, animal behavior, veterinary medicine, biodiversity, and the history of zoos and aquariums. Formats held by the Library range from eighteenth and nineteenth-century texts collected by WCS's founders to digital books and journals.
The Wildlife Conservation Society Library & Archives supports the mission of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to save wildlife and wild places by preserving the rich history of WCS, from its zoos and aquarium to its on-the-ground fieldwork worldwide; providing research and information to WCS staff; and maintaining a high-quality and accessible collection of books, periodicals, and online databases. The mission of the WCS Library & Archives is to ensure that the conservation and education efforts of WCS as a whole are enhanced by access to authoritative and useful information delivered in a timely and efficient manner.