Smithsonian Institution Libraries

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL ) system consists of 20 libraries, the various museums and research centers of the Smithsonian Institution are available. The holdings by the SIL include 1.5 million volumes as well as a wide range of digital resources. The collections are mainly focused on the science, art, history and culture and museology. The SIL is in a process of analysis of its tasks and objectives to provide in the future the best information available, which needs the new generation of users to strengthen the research, and accessible via the Internet those who do not wish to set up können.i use the SIL catalog is part of the Smithsonian research information System ( SIRIS ), from which one in 1.89 million records - can seek from all over the Smithsonian Institution - text, images, video and sound files. In 2008, the SIL celebrated its 40th anniversary.

  • 2.1 The digital library
  • 2.2 Smithsonian Libraries 2.0


In most libraries of the Smithsonian Institution located in the area of Washington DC, where also most of the museums and research centers of the Institute are. Other locations are in New York City, Suitland, Edgewater and Panama.

Locations are as follows:

  • Washington, D.C. Anacostia Community Museum Library ( Washington, DC)
  • Botany and Horticulture Library ( Washington, DC)
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Library ( Washington, DC)
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library ( Washington, DC)
  • John Wesley Powell Library of Anthropology (Washington, DC)
  • Museum Studies Reference Library (Washington, DC)
  • National Air and Space Museum Library ( Washington, DC)
  • National Museum of American History Library (Washington, DC)
  • National Museum of Natural History Library (Washington, DC) National Museum of Natural History Library, Invertebrate Zoology (Washington, DC)
  • National Museum of Natural History Library, Vertebrate Zoology (Washington, DC)
  • Cooper - Hewitt, National Design Museum Library ( New York, New York)

Museum Support Center Library

In Suitland, Maryland, the Smithsonian 's Museum Support Center ( MSC), which was inaugurated in May 1983 is. It is the most important outsourced facility for the preservation and collection of museum pieces and works for various Smithsonian museums, primarily the National Museum of Natural History. The site of the MSC is about 18,000 m² and it offers a floor space of 46,000 m². This makes it one of the largest building units of the Smithsonian. The cabinets are a total of over 19 km long and contained more than 31 million objects.

The Support Center forms a zigzag shape, which consists of several buildings. In every part of the building there is a wide corridor that separates the camp from the offices and laboratories. Each part of the building is about 90 meters long, has three floors and has its own air conditioning. According to the budget of 2009, the MSC uses for the accommodation of its exhibits three storage types: collections in cabinets, open shelves for pickled in alcohol biological samples and high-bay warehouse for very large objects, such as totem poles, boats, meteorites and large, groomed mammals.

Part of the roof was early February 2010 damaged by a storm.

Special Collections

In the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, there are two special libraries. The Special Collections Department is responsible for the compilation and storage of rare books and manuscripts, and brings them under two special libraries, the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology and the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History. Access to these libraries have the curators and researchers from the Smithsonian Institution. Other employees and scholars from outside access by appointment.

Additional material for special collections will be made available to the other sites of the SIL.

The Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

It contains 35,000 books and 2,000 manuscripts on the history of research and technology. It was opened by a donation of Bern Dibner 1976. The library is located in the National Museum of American History, which reopened in 2008 after a major overhaul.

The Cullman Library of Natural History

There are some 10,000 volumes in the fields of anthropology and natural science, which date from the period before 1840 in her.

Digital Initiatives

These are coordinated by the New Media Office of the Smithsonian Institution.

The digital library

It includes publications, collections and objects such as online exhibitions, webcasts, finding aids, digital versions of the print editions, bibliographies. The Biodiversity Heritage Library, part of the Encyclopedia of Life, one of the most important digital initiatives in which the SIL is involved.

Smithsonian Libraries 2.0

On-going activities include a blog, a Facebook page, a Flickr page, and a Twitter feed.

Fellowships and internships

SIL offers scholarships for historians, librarians, doctoral and post - doctoral students who want to research in the history of science and technology as well as the areas of special collections.


A Smithsonian Institution Libraries Fact Sheet states that the " Smithsonian Institution Libraries", although a plural, is followed by a singular, because it as a system of libraries, with each site, under the auspices of a central administration and compliance a joint mission to act, is to be considered.