Myrtle: The Provenance and Meaning of a Plant

A version of this post first appeared on the Biodiversity Heritage Library blog. Provenance can be defined as the chain of ownership of any type of object from its creation to the present day. Co-organized by the Smithsonian Libraries, the Smithsonian’s Material Culture Forum recently held a lively session of presentations and discussions on this topic, with speakers from across the Institution: the National Zoo; Natural History Museum scientists and researchers in more »

The Last Jedi’s Monastic Retreat

The Skellig Islands. More stunning and other-worldly than any of the special effects of the past two Star Wars movies is the real-life towering rock outcroppings glimpsed in the closing moments of The Force Awakens (2015) and now playing a starring role in the blockbuster, The Last Jedi (2017). Although the Great Skellig, also known as Skellig Michael and Sceilig Mhichíl, and the Lesser (or Little) Skellig appear to be in a more »

Native Fruit: Cranberry for all Seasons

Is there a food in North America more intrinsically linked with the landscape of the past and nostalgically intertwined with a holiday feast than the cranberry? From Cranberry Lakes in Nova Scotia, Cranberry River of West Virginia, Cranberry Pond in Sunderland, Massachusetts, the Cranberry Isles of Maine, Cranberry Mountain in New York, Cranberry Meadow in New Jersey, and many a Cranberry Bog dotting coastal areas, the plant deserves the appellation of First more »

New Dazzling Diversity Exhibition Open Now!

This post was written by Abigail Espiritu, a summer intern focusing on social media and the Libraries’ blog. This fall, Abigail will be entering her freshmen year at the University of Maryland where she will be majoring in journalism. On August 8th, 2017, the Smithsonian Libraries opened their newest exhibition in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Dazzling Diversity: The Insect World. The exhibition is located on the Ground Floor of more »

My Experience as a Product Development and Marketing Intern

This post was written by Carolina Murcia, Biodiversity Heritage Library Product Development and Marketing Intern.     I am a designer. I am an artist. I am an illustrator. I am an amateur photographer, a daughter, a traveler, an adventurist, a niece, a walker, a cyclist, a friend, an intern, a professional, a foreigner, a Latina, a Colombian, a woman, a strong woman, a bilingual. I am a person that has grown more »

A Zinnia Grows in Space

National Garden Month blasts off with zinnias, written by Robin Everly and Julia Blakely. Smithsonian Libraries, most days, is like a typical library system — we assist staff and visitors with information needs, purchase books, check in journal issues, digitize, catalog, and of course, shelve books. However, the Smithsonian being the Smithsonian, sometimes your ordinary day turns upside down into something else. It’s what makes working here so fun and interesting. Such a day occurred November 10, 2016, when a Smithsonian Gardens’ horticulturist contacted our librarian in the Botany and Horticulture Department about attractive 19th-century books featuring information about zinnias. He was working with a National Air and Space Museum (NASM) film crew on an educational program about Astronaut Scott Kelly’s growing zinnias on the International Space Station (ISS). The botanical librarian, along with our catalog librarian in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, came up with some stunning botanical illustrations and set up a display in the rare book reading room for the filmmakers. From these more »

Looking Closely: Two Women in Book History

The Smithsonian Libraries does not contain an overwhelming number of notable bookbindings in its collections. Unlike some other research institutions, fine or interesting covers are not a collecting focus or reason for acquiring a title. Many of our books have had a hard life, well-used over the decades by staff and researchers in the museums’ departments. These survivors have often been rebound in library buckram (sturdy but oh so boring) or been more »

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