Head of Special Collections

Smithsonian Libraries is pleased to announce its new Head of the Special Collections Department, Lilla Vekerdy. Vekerdy has over 20 years of experience in rare books preservation and management. She will oversee the Libraries’ special collections in all 20 branches, most notably the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology in the National Museum of American History and the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History in the National Museum of Natural History. Originally from Hungary, Vekerdy has lived in the United States for 17 years.  She earned a B.A. in Literature, Linguistics and Library Sciences, an M.A. with a Teaching Certificate in Literature and Linguistics, and an M.L.S. with a concentration in early prints and manuscripts from the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary. Vekerdy has also completed doctoral studies in Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern History at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo. Vekerdy joins the Libraries after serving for 17 years as a rare book librarian and coursemaster at Washington University School of more »

President’s Day

New York Postmark, 1756.-Addressed to Colonel George Washington The Postal Service in Colonial America: A Bibliography of Material in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries National Postal Museum Branch —Elizabeth Periale

Picturing Words posters

As you walk around the Mall be sure to check out the posters advertising our current exhibition, Picturing Words: The Power of Book Illustration. The posters can be seen near the Natural History Museum, National Museum of American History, National Air & Space Museum, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. Be sure to check out the exhibition, too! —Elizabeth Periale

Happy Valentines Day

The Geo. H. Mellen Co. Condensed Catalogue of Special Offers in Choise Plants, Seeds & Fruit, 1896 —Elizabeth Periale

Visual literacy

The concept of visual literacy is important today, as people absorb information from all kinds of media. Visual literacy involves understanding the meaning of images–sometimes multiple meanings– both in terms of integrating words and pictures, and ‘reading’ pictures separately from texts. The exhibition Picturing Words: the Power of Book Illustration focuses on the power of pictures to inspire, inform, and influence viewers. We explore the ways that pictures reach audiences, sometimes more directly than text alone. Illustrations can explain complicated ideas at a glance and can even take precedence over words. They extend the meaning of books beyond textual limits and invoke readers’ imaginative faculties. They aid the dissemination and acceptance of scientific discoveries, technical advances, and artistic innovations – all fields that are represented at the Smithsonian and supported by the holdings of Smithsonian Institution Libraries. In addition, the exhibit demonstrates how illustrations are produced from wood blocks, engraving plates, and lithographic stones, as well as the application of photography to pictorial printing. One of the most popular features more »

Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial

The Libraries celebrates the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln today. The sixteenth president of the United States is represented by two images in the Libraries collections, this image from Harper's Weekly, as well as an image of the president's carriage, which happened to be a Studebaker, and can be found in our digital display, From Horses to Horsepower: Studebaker Helped Moved a Nation. Related Smithsonian link: Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life—Elizabeth Periale

Darwin @ 200

Portrait of Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), BiologistOriginally uploaded by Smithsonian Institution “The cultivation of natural science cannot be efficiently carried on without reference to an extensive library.” (1)– Charles Darwin, et al (1847) Today, February 12, 2009, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Later this year will be yet another landmark date for Darwin, the sesquicentennial (mark your calenders now for November 24th!) of the publication of On the Origin of Species (1859). The Smithsonian Institution Libraries is a key member of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) Project, a consortium of ten natural history and botanical garden libraries engaged in the task of digitizing the worlds taxonomic literature. Those working in systematics and taxonomy are heavily dependent on the historic literature – to a greater extent than perhaps most of the sciences. This importance of the literature, as well as the ongoing importance of publication (and library deposit) to validate taxonomic concepts, contribute to the mission and continue to inform the day to day development more »

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