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Library Tours in June for ALA Conference

Flower Next month the annual conference for the American Library Association comes to Washington DC. Four of the twenty branches of the Smithsonian Libraries will be having tours: the Botany-Horticulture Library, The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, John Wesley Powell Library of Anthropology, and The Warren M. Robbins Library at the National Museum of African Art.

Tours will be held from 4:00-5:30 PM, Tuesday, June 29. Please email Courtney Shaw at shawc[at]  to reserve your spot since space is limited. Please indicate which library you would be interested in visiting by June 25. For those attending the tour for the African Art Library, please meet at the Pavilion of the Museum of the National Art. For the other libraries, enter through the Constitution Avenue entrance of the Natural History Museum and gather at the Moai
in the lobby. Please note that the Smithsonian is a secure location and identification
is required to visit the libraries.

The four libraries are:

Botany-Horticulture Library

As one of the Branch libraries of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries system, the Botany-Horticulture Library is both a place where the older botanical literature can still be found along with the latest taxonomic and plant science literature. The library provides research support for the National Museum Natural History’s Botany Department and the large number of botanists world-wide who use the collections and resources. Located behind the scenes, in the department’s Herbarium, the library and its staff also serve the information needs of the Horticulture Services Division staff, who manage and care for the living plant collection of the gardens on the mall. Come find out what is like working as a botanical librarian with this unique collection and the research staff at the Smithsonian Institution.  

The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History

This library is one of the Libraries' rare-book rooms; it holds books printed before 1840 in the natural sciences: anthropology, botany, zoology, paleontology, and the mineral sciences. Special strengths include early voyages of exploration, masterpieces of botanical and zoological illustration, and the personal library of James Smithson, an 18th-century British gentleman-scientist whose bequest founded the Institution. Books in each of these subjects will be on display and discussed by Curator of Natural-History Rare Books Leslie Overstreet.

John Wesley Powell Library of Anthropology

This library is located within the Anthropology Department and supports the research, publication, exhibitions, and public programming of the department and other museums and offices within the Smithsonian. Its collection reflects the important role that the Smithsonian Institution played in the development of anthropology as a formal discipline in the United States. The current library was established in 1965 with the merger of two principal Smithsonian collections–the library of the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE;1879-1965) and the divisional collections of the Department of Anthropology. The former supported "anthropological researches" among the indigenous people of the Americas and was considered one of the best such resources in the world. The latter collections grew out of the work of other museum staff not only in the Americas but also many places abroad, including Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Oceania.

The Warren M. Robbins Library at the National Museum of African Art

This is the leading library in the world for the research and study of African visual arts. With more than 44,000 volumes, the Library embraces classical and modern African visual arts with strong supporting collections of African history, archaeology, religion, ethnography, oral tradition, musicology, photography, and cinema. Additional holdings cover African literatures, travel, cookery, popular cultures, African museums, curriculum materials, and children’s books. We provide entree to the literature on African art through specialized bibliographies and indexes available on WorldCat.

Also don't forget that the Smithsonian American Art Resources Centers are also having an open house during the ALA conference on Monday, June 28, 2:00-4:00 PM. Information can be found also on the Smithsonian Libraries' blog.

Also, the Biodiversity Heritage Library will be holding a panel discussion of the project with staff from a range of the twelve member libraries.The event will take place on Monday, June 28, 10:00-noon at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History. More details may be found online.

Image: Transactions of the Linnean Society

—Doug Litts

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