Heritage of Excellence
at the center of the world's largest museum complex, the Smithsonian
Institution Libraries is a vital part of the research, exhibition,
and educational enterprise of the Institution. Using the artifacts
or specimens of the national collections in conjunction with the
written and illustrated record of the past, each Smithsonian scholar
engages in an individual voyage of discovery. The continuing vitality
of their endeavors depends on a healthy library system able to meet
their needs and capable of meeting the needs of a growing number
of users in the future.
About the World's Largest Museum Library System
libraries in the nation's capital, Maryland, New York, and Panama
million volumes, including 40,000 rare books and manuscripts
recognized collections of World's Fair literature and commercial
catalogs documenting American industrial and consumer culture
collections strength in natural history, anthropology, American
Indian history and culture, the history of science and technology,
American history, environmental management and tropical biology,
aviation history and space flight, contemporary art, museum conservation
and management, design and decorative arts, contemporary art,
and the arts of America, Africa and Asia
growing array of electronic journals, databases, and other digital
book conservation laboratory and an imaging center
access from personal computers to the Libraries' collections and
reference services through the Internet
Smithsonian Libraries participates today in the advancement of science
and the arts, just as it has done from the inception of the institution.
The Libraries' role with respect to the institution, the federal
government, universities, and the American people has grown, changing
to meet the needs of the times. Acting as both public and academic
library and as both scholarly resource and general information service,
the Libraries informed staff offer a galaxy of services and resources
available to anyone via the Internet or in person.
Smithsonian Institution Libraries serves its users through a unified
system supported by an online catalog of the combined collections.
For worldwide access via the Internet, a new imaging center creates
electronic versions of rare books and other distinctive collections,
as well as online exhibitions and specialized resource guides and
finding aids. Our skilled cataloguers apply new "metadata"
rules to make Web sites as accessible as books on the shelf. We
maintain publication exchanges with the more than 6,400 institutions
worldwide that supply Smithsonian scientists and historians with
current periodicals and other publications. Through reformatting,
microfilming, paper and binding restoration, and other preservation
treatments, our preservation experts work to save the Smithsonian's
collection of 1.5 million printed books and well thousands of manuscripts
for future generations.
audiences discover our national treasures through exhibitions, lectures,
educational programs, special tours, and a user-friendly public
Web site at www.sil.si.edu.
Libraries' traditional constituency, Smithsonian staff, has expanded
to include visiting fellows and interns; docents and volunteers;
scholars across the nation and the globe; corporate and legal researchers;
publishers; book and artifact collectors in many disciplines; other
libraries, museums, and nonprofit organizations; government agencies;
university faculty; students with relevant research interests; antiquarians
and historic preservation specialists; and the public.
Improving Constituent Service