National Museum of Natural History Libraries Entomology and Invertebrate Zoology Libraries

About the Libraries

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The Vertebrate Zoology satellite libraries of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) Library consist of the Amphibian and Reptiles, Fishes, Birds, and Mammal Libraries. They are spread throughout the National Museum of Natural History Building. Each is located within the respective Division: Amphibians and Reptiles, Birds, Fishes and Mammals, which fall under the Department of Zoology, one of the several major departments of the Museum. These divisional libraries focus on the systematics, taxonomy, anatomy and physiology, ecology, distribution, and evolution of their respective subject groups. The book and periodical collections total around 25,000 volumes. They have strong collections of 19th and 20th century literature (thanks in part to the gifts of early Smithsonian curators). Materials from publishers throughout the world are actively collected. In content, the collection consists of taxonomic information from post-Linnaean research, 1758 onward, but takes in the recent geological period (past 10,000 years) as well. For materials published before 1840, see the rare book collections of the Cullman Library of Natural History.

General Vertebrate Zoology Links

NMNH Museum Collections Records
National Center for Biotechnical Information
Species Analyst
Biology Browser
NetVet-The Electronic Zoo
The Animal Diversity Web

Please also seeRelated Internet Resources

Amphibians and Reptiles Library

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Rana Latastii from Boulenger's The tailless batrachians of Europe, 1897-98 plate xxiii


In 1965 the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and specifically the Natural History Library took over the books and periodicals of the Division's collections, cataloguing them according to L.C. classification scheme, and barcoding them. Since then the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles has maintained the reprint collection and selected books (especially collections of papers). The majority of recent materials have been purchased by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, with additional gifts by the curators.
Spencer Baird was an herpetologist and donated some of his materials (books and reprints) to the core of the collection. Leonard Stejneger, the curator of the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles from the 1890's to the early 1940's was a bibliophile, and a personal collector, who also bought and gave many volumes and reprints to the division. This pattern of giving was followed by Doris Cochran and James A. Peters, who had became curator in 1964. There was a rebirth for the collections in the 1960's, since there was money at that time to buy books.
In the mid-1970's curator George Zug, who arrived in 1969, created an extensive exchange collection using SHIS Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service publications (see link in Reptiles Home Page) for publishing both professional and amateur herpetological publications, which continues today.

Selected Herpetological Links (please see also "Related Internet Resources" on the sidebar):
Amphibian Species of the World
NH Reptiles and Amphibians Collections Herp Pictures
International Society for the History and Bibliography of Herpetology

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Fishes Library

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Scomber Ruber from Bloch's
'Ichtyologie' plate 342


In the 1860's, most of the ichthyological works held by the SI Library were transferred uncataloged to the Division of Fishes because the central library lacked space. Leonard P. Schultz, Curator in Charge of Icthyology from 1937-1968 kept the books in his office arranged by author. The Division maintained the uncatalogued books (with a card catalog) and arranged them alphabetically by main entry, usually author. Sometime around 1970, SIL offered to provide the Division with part-time library help if the Division would permit the books to be cataloged. The Division agreed with the provision that the main entry filing would be continued. In the early 90s, SIL persuaded the Division to re-order the collection by LC number, to be consistent with other divisional collections. The books and periodicals were housed separately.
Victor Springer, who came in 1961, has been the Division liaison with the SIL vertebrate zoology librarian since about 1965, mainly providing new book requests, passing judgment on new orders and discards involving duplicates or irrelevant literature, providing funding from Division sources for purchasing and binding books when SIL funds were not forthcoming, suggesting rearrangements in the library, and recommending books for transfer to the rare book library. His idea was to replace transferred rare materials with photocopies that would be retained in the Fishes library, but eventually that practice was stopped.
Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod, owner of Tropical Fish Hobbyist, Inc. (T.F.H.), which published books on fishes, was actively involved with the Division from 1963-1995. He has been a significant supporter to the Fishes Library by donating to it a copy of every fish book he published. He also reprinted several out-of-print fish books, and donated them to the Division. The book and reprint collection has been increased substantially over the years by gifts from the Division's present and former curators, such as Ernie Lochner and R. H. Gibbs, and occasional gifts from other ichthyologists, particularly those who authored books and received assistance from the Division, for example Dr. Ray Birdsong.

Selected Fish Links (please see also "Related Internet Resources" on the sidebar)
Regulatory Fish Encyclopedia
FINS: Fish Information Service
Annotated Checklists of Fishes

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Birds Library

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King Vulture from Martinet's 'Ornithologie' plate 58


The Richmond Memorial Library, located in the Division of Birds, established its library collection in 1881, with the volumes of Spencer Baird. The division's specimen collection became the center of systematic studies on North American birds, while the library concentrated on systematics worldwide. The collection has received two significant gifts. The Jonathan Dwight, Jr. ornithological library of 1808 was given by Mrs. Carl Tucker in 1969. A gift of 3,000 volumes from the estate of Alexander Wetmore, the sixth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, was acquired in 1979.
Probably the most significant contribution to the library came from curator Charles W. Richmond, whose interest in avian nomenclature caused him to obtain many old and rare classics in ornithology containing original descriptions of new species. The library has been in the same location ever since the Bird Division moved into the east wing. Prior to that it was in the main part of the building, and after being housed in the Castle.
See also: Churgin, Sylvia and Ruth Schallert. "History of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, with special emphasis on the natural history." J. Soc. Biblio. Nat. Hist. (1980) 9 (4):601 (Birds, the Richmond Memorial Library).

Selected Bird Links (please see also "Related Internet Resources" on the sidebar)
Recent Ornithological Literature On-Line, including state newsletters
Birds of North America
Ornithologie (Martinet)
Zoonomen: Zoological Nomenclature Resource
Vireo: Visual Resources for Ornithology
SORA (Searchable Ornithological Research Archive)
Bird Checklists of the United States
Also visit the Division of Birds Homepage.

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Mammals Library

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Virginian Opussum [sic] from Audubon's Quadrupeds of North America


From the 1940's to 1950's the Division of Mammals was on the ground floor of the Natural History building (in the same area where the Main Library of Natural History is presently.) Mammals offices were a bank of square high-ceilinged rooms where double decks held the specimen cabinets and books, requiring a ladder to reach the higher shelves. They faced the West Court's scenic view of flowers, canoes, totem poles, and benches, with kestrels and mockingbirds flying around. In the later 1950's the Mammals Division moved to the west wing (6th floor) then to 3rd floor, main in the mid 1960's. The Mammal's Library was first in Rm 390-392 (now the Mammal Office) and moved to Rm 398 around 1978. The library continued the ground floor tradition of having the book shelves around the walls, with some free-standing stacks. Books were arranged by subject, then by author.
In 1965 the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, catalogued the books and periodicals according to L.C. classification scheme, and barcoded them. Most rare materials were housed in a locked cabinet until many of them were removed to the Dibner Library in 1980. A caged area was then created under the advice of Al Gardner, which housed some rare books, museum catalogs, divisional field notes, and books of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For at least 50 some years the reprints have been bound. Before that they were organized by author, all miscellaneous reprints being held in letter file boxes. The reprints remained with the Division. The map collection, originally in the library, became part of the division's collections. Two curators of Mammals, Gerrit Smith Miller Jr.,c.1900-1940, and Remington Kellogg(later Director the Museum of Natural History) willed their personal libraries to the Mammals Library, the Birds Library, and the newly established Kellogg Library of Marine Mammals (opened in 1969-70) respectively. Clayton Ray, Curator Emeritus of Palebiology, has also given books and many reprints.

Selected Mammal Links (please see also "Related Internet Resources" on the sidebar)
Mammals Networked Information System
Walker's Mammals of the World
Mammal Species of the World
Mammfaun: A Bibliography Concerning the Geographical Distribution of Mammals
Bibliography of General Works in Mammalogy
Johann Baptist von Spix. Simiarum et Vespertilionum Brasiliensium Species Novae (1823). Digital Edition.
PrimateLit: A Bibliographic Database for Primatology
Mammal Slide Library
North American Mammals
Mammalian Species

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