Smithsonian Librarian Named Director of Biodiversity Heritage Library

Tom Garnett, associate director for Digital Library and Information Systems for the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, has been named the first Program Director of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. He has coordinated the Biodiversity Heritage Library initiative since its inception in 2004. He begins his new position March 31. Garnett has more than 27 years of experience in the library field creating, scoping, implementing, and managing major digital library projects. For the past 23 years, he has worked in the Smithsonian Libraries, where he served as Systems Administrator in the Systems Office, before being promoted to Assistant Director and then Associate director for Digital Library and Information Systems. The Biodiversity Heritage Library is a consortium of 10 natural history, botanical, and research institute libraries that collectively hold a substantial amount of the world’s published knowledge on biological diversity. It was organized to digitize the legacy literature of biodiversity and make it available as part of a biodiversity commons. Scientists and students from around the world will be able to search and read more »

Smithsonian Contributions series now available online!

The Smithsonian has a long and rich history of research and scientific publication. As part of an overall plan for digitization of the collections, the Smithsonian Libraries has tackled the rich and varied output of Smithsonian scholarly publications. We’re please to announce today that the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press and the Smithsonian Institution Libraries have completed the digitization of legacy volumes of the Smithsonian Contributions Series. PDFs are available online at This is the single largest digitization project to date to be completed by the Smithsonian of legacy print collections. It includes 1,072 volumes (more than 107,000 pages) of Smithsonian research in a wide range of subject areas. All publications are free to users around the world! The following Series are now available as high-resolution PDFs: Smithsonian Annals of Flight (1964-1974) Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology (1965-present) Smithsonian Contributions to Astrophysics (1956-1974) Smithsonian Contributions to Botany (1969-present) Smithsonian Contributions to Folklife Studies (1980-1990) Smithsonian Contributions to History and Technology (1969-present; formerly Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology) Smithsonian Contributions to more »

Celebrating 40 Years of Smithsonian Libraries

Happy Birthday, SIL! The Smithsonian Institution Libraries has officially kicked off its 40th anniversary.  On Tuesday, April 8th, about 200 SI-wide staff members and guests enjoyed ice cream and cake at the Castle Commons as the Libraries launched a year of special anniversary activities.  Among the attendees at the party were Roger Sant, the chairman of the Smithsonian Board of Regents, Cristian Samper, the Acting Secretary of the Smithsonian, Ira Rubinoff, Acting Undersecretary for Science, NMAH Director Brent Glass and NZP Director John Berry.  During remarks, Acting Secretary Samper said "I know, we all know how indispensable the 20 libraries are to our age-old mission, "the increase and diffusion of knowledge.  They are invaluable to our Smithsonian scholars, and also the general public, offering a galaxy of resources and the help of informed staff to anyone via the Internet or in person.  And they are curators of magnificent treasures that they share online and through exhibitions. A library was part of the original legislation that founded the Smithsonian in 1846 more »

Symposium on noted explorer, botanist, scientist and artist Mark Catesby

When: June 9, 2008, 2:00 pmWhere: Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Auditorium at the Freer Gallery of Art, Jefferson Drive at 12th Street SW (NOTE NEW TIME AND LOCATION!) More Information: The Smithsonian Institution Libraries is pleased to present Mark Catesby’s America, a symposium, followed by the Washington premiere of the film, The Curious Mister Catesby, Monday, June 9, 2008. In 1731, Englishman Mark Catesby began work on the book that would make him famous at home and abroad as an explorer, botanist, scientist and artist. The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 1:30 in the Baird Auditorium at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest, and will be followed by the film at 4:00. For more information, contact the Libraries’ development office at 202.633.2875. About the image:Mark CatesbyThe natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama islands: containing the figures of birds, beasts, fishes, serpents, insects, and plants, 1731-43  [1729-48]"Largest White Bill’d Woodpecker"More information about this image

40th Anniversary Kick-off Nets $40,000 gift

On Tuesday, April 8, we kicked off our 40th anniversary year when over 200 people came to the Smithsonian Castle building to help us celebrate.  As employee recognition awards, SIL staff had been given red T-shirts to mark the "ruby" anniversary, and most wore them to the party.  When I looked out from the podium it was a sea of red, and all who came were very, very impressed!   Here’s Heather Ewing, author of the new biography of James Smithson, and Shauna Collier, our Anacostia librarian, modeling the shirt. Among the attendees were four of the Libraries’ Board members, the chairman of the Smithsonian Board of Regents, the the Acting Under Secretary for Administration, several Smithsonian museum directors, and a terrific cross-section of scientists, historians, curators, and other library users and friendsof the Libraries.   Our 40th Anniversary Committee put together a trivia contest and a raffle, which made for lots of fun.  Thanks to them all for doing such a terrific job! The fortunate attendees heard excellent remarks from Ira more »

About Smithsonian Libraries

Situated at the center of the world’s largest museum complex, the Smithsonian   Institution Libraries (SIL) forms a vital part of the research, exhibition,   and educational enterprise of the Institution. Each Smithsonian scholar engages   in an individual “voyage of discovery,” using the artifacts and specimens   of the National Collections in conjunction with the written and illustrated   record of the past. The Libraries is uniquely positioned to help visitors understand   the continuing vitality of this relationship. Today, the Smithsonian Libraries participates in the advancement of science   and the arts, just as we have done from the inception of the Institution. Our   role vis-à-vis the Institution, the federal government, universities,   and the American people has grown, changing to meet the needs of the times.   Acting as both public and academic library, as both scholarly resource and general   information service, the Libraries offers a galaxy of resources and the help   of informed staff to anyone via the Internet or in person. The more »

The Library of James Smithson on LibraryThing

Thanks to Jeremy Dibbell, SI Libraries own Suzanne Pilsk, and the folks at LibraryThing, we’ve now added most (113 out of just over 120) of the remaining known books from library of James Smithson, the founder of the Smithsonian Institution. One of the great things about LibraryThing is the ability to compare libraries. Other famous libraries on LibraryThing include those of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Samuel Johnson. A quick glance shows us that Smithson shared 4 titles with Jefferson, and one each with Johnson and Adams. Take at look at Smithson’s LibraryThing library. But also be sure to visit the Smithsonian Libraries website, the Galaxy of Knowledge, to learn more about the collection and to see a number of images from the library that include Smithson’s annotations: Smithson’s Library. Leslie K. Overstreet, the Smithsonian Libraries Curator of Natural-History  Rare Books, writes of the Smithson Library: James Smithson (c.1765-1829), an 18th-century gentleman of science, included his library with his bequest to the United States, and those books now reside in more »

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