In a remote corner on the third floor of the National Museum of Natural History lies the Mammals Library. This medium-sized room houses roughly 10,000 volumes on mammalian subjects such as systematics, distribution, evolution, morphology, ecology, and evolution. There are also a number of related study aids such as dictionaries, atlases, and other resources. This impressive collection exists for the use of the Mammals division staff and visiting researchers, and is maintained by Smithsonian Libraries. The room was just closed for six weeks to undergo its first major renovation in over 30 years. Subsequently, on November 6th, the room played host to an exciting grand reopening celebration that was attended by nearly 100 Smithsonian colleagues.
The renovation involved repairing the room’s walls, ceilings, windows, and floors. It also included installing over 100 new linear feet of shelving, removing two defunct radiators, and eliminating the remnants of a former secured area: an imposing steel grate that ran the width of the room. This project was completed entirely in-house by the expert craftsmen from the Office of Facilities Management and Reliability, a division of the Smithsonian’s Office of Facilities Engineering and Operations. The library also underwent a deep cleaning, and was refurnished with two worktables, six classic library chairs, new artwork, and an inviting reading chair. The room is new once again.
In honor of the reopening, the Mammals division and Library staff put together an impromptu exhibition, highlighting the best of both collections. Actual specimens were displayed alongside their printed material counterparts. The most popular specimen on display was the Olinguito, which was recently discovered by the Mammals division chair, Kris Helgen. Since the room is maintained by Smithsonian Libraries and predominantly used by the Mammals division, this spontaneous display was a fitting collaboration between both departments that truly captured the spirit of the space: a place for research, exhibition, and learning.