Cultivating America’s Gardens: Upcoming Events

Mark your calendars! In conjunction with Smithsonian Gardens, Smithsonian Libraries is pleased to present the first two events in our Cultivating America’s Gardens programming. Explore and celebrate the history of American gardening with us!

The Fix – Preparing an Exhibition Takes a Village

The Preservation Department of the Smithsonian Libraries (SIL) has been preparing materials for the past year for the upcoming exhibition in the SIL Gallery, National Museum of American History, Cultivating America’s Gardens.  Drawn mainly from the collections of the Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens, it is a cooperative curatorial effort of both units.

Opening this week: Cultivating America’s Gardens

Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens will present a new exhibition, “Cultivating America’s Gardens,” at the National Museum of American History May 4 through August 2018. Amateurs and professionals, young and old, schoolchildren and scientists—Americans of every sort—have put their backs into gardening for a variety of motives: beauty, food, science and prestige. Americans garden to feed themselves and their families and to create a sense of place and beauty in their backyards more »

Unearthing an 18th-Century Librarian-Gardener

Rare book cataloging can require some detective work. A recent case for me involved a record of ancient coins in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, transferred to the Smithsonian’s Dibner Library for cataloging from the National Museum of American History’s National Numismatic Collection. This is also a tale of how a book can reveal unexpected histories.

Filed away: Office equipment of the late 19th century

Today, in the 21st Century, it is commonplace to find a computer on a desk in an office. In the late 19th Century, workers did not have the convenience of our modern office equipment. So how did they file papers, write documents, or make copies of documents?

A behind-the-scenes tour for Preservation Week

This week, April 23-29th 2017, is Preservation Week, a week set aside by the American Library Association to highlight the importance of conserving and properly caring for books, papers and other media,  in both institutional and personal collections. This year, we’re celebrating Preservation Week with a live, behind-the-scenes tour of our Book Conservation Lab, via Facebook Live. Viewers will have a chance to meet our conservation staff, learn about what they do 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 »

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