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Smithsonian Digital Library
Interests: history of science and technology, space exploration, natural history, anthropology, african art, aviation, portraiture, philately and postal history, asian art, american art, botany and horticulture, decorative arts and design, tropical biology, museology, native american history and culture, african american history and culture
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Our blog has moved to a new web address. Please visit and bookmark us at http://blog.library.si.edu Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
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Mar 18, 2012
When The President of the United States and the Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) break ground on February 22, 2012, it will be the beginning of a new adventure for Smithsonian Libraries. Plans for the museum include locating the library in wonderful space on a public floor with direct public access. Mary Augusta Thomas and Bill Baxter have been working with the staff of the NMAAHC space planning team, including representatives from the education department, the center for media arts and collections. We all enjoy the challenges of planning for a highly interactive information commons and a research library with a program that is only now being defined. Our joint vision is for a place that visitors will come with questions raised by their time in the exhibitions. These might be about objects in the collections, or the location of a museum or cultural center in their vicinity. In addition, the museum and library will offer resources and training in genealogy, another first for SIL. In addition, the library reference specialists will provide onsite assistance with databases, a collection expected to be about 20000 volumes’ and a scholar’s workstation for visiting fellows and researchers. Library users will be able discover resources throughout SL and retrieve items quickly. SIL is also in discussions about offering services to support archives research. SIL selectors have been tagging books for the new museum for several years so a beginning collection is currently located at the Anacostia Community... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
Just in time for Fat Tuesday, our testers whip up some food with New Orleans flair: gumbo and sweet potato pone! Both come from The New Orleans Cookbook, published by folks that now seem like old friends to Cooking from the Collections, the "staff home economists" of the Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago. Left to right: Sweet Potato Pone, White Rice, Crab-Shrimp Gumbo. Crab-Shrimp Gumbo This was a relatively easy dish to make. While it is not the traditional gumbo that one might expect, this was a tasty and filling dish that was well-received by my colleagues, wife, and two-year-old daughter. Since the recipe was published in the 1950s, I took a few liberties based on modern conveniences. For example, instead of preparing the shrimp separately, I used frozen cooked and peeled shrimp. I also replaced canned crab-meat with freshly-packaged crab meat. As far as flavor, one thing that surprised me about the finished product was that it was somewhat bland, which is not what one would expect of gumbo. As you can see from the ingredients list that the recipe went very light on the spices. I was left wondering if this was indicative of the time that the recipe was published. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that many Americans preferred their food, well…blander, back then. I had to do the other ingredients justice, so I ended up adding additional salt, ground pepper, thyme, parsley, and garlic. I also amended the recipe to include beef bouillon and white pepper. If I... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
How interesting, Heather! If you'd like more information about how to research your treasure, see our website: http://www.sil.si.edu/SILPublications/old-books.htm
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It's a chilly February day here in Washington, D.C., but our thoughts have jumped ahead to sunny Anaheim in June. That's the location and date (June 21-26, to be exact) of the American Library Association's Annual Conference. Smithsonian Libraries will be a new exhibitor this year, co-hosting a space with the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. ALA Annual, which attracts up to 20,000 attendees and exhibitors, is the world's largest event for the library community. We are very excited to have the opportunity to meet fellow librarians and publishing professionals from across the country, as well as around the world, and to discuss our tools and resources. Registration for attendees is open now. Will you be there? If so, is there anything in particular you would like to see from SIL or SISP? We're looking forward to seeing you! Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
Typically, February 14th is a day set aside for love, flowers and candy. For those in a less romantic spirit, we suggest celebrating Ferris Wheel Day instead! Ferris Wheel Day celebrates the birthday of George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. and his most famous invention. This image, from Hubert Howe Bancroft's The book of the fair : an historical and descriptive presentation of the world's science, art, and industry, as viewed through the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893 (Chicago, San Francisco: The Bancroft Company, 1895), shows the very first Ferris Wheel at the Columbian Exposition's Midway Plaisance. Ferris build the attraction, sometimes know as the "Chicago Wheel", as a landmark for the Fair. After being dismantled and rebuilt multiple times all over the country, it was finally destroyed in 1906. Bancroft's work, featured here, is one of many titles on World's Fairs and Expositions in the Smithsonian Libraries collections. Both the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum branches have extensive holdings on the subject. See our selected bibliography here for more information. Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
An interesting book with an intriguing provenance arrived in the conservation lab this month from The Dibner Libray of the History of Science and Technology. “Lectiones Cutlerianae”, a book created from the collection of six lectures given by the English philosopher and polymath, Robert Hooke, from 1674-1678, was published in 1679. The book is part of the Heralds of Science collection. The lectures touch on various topics including the annual motion of the earth, a description of helioscopes and microscopical discoveries. Hooke was a contemporary and bitter rival of Isaac Newton. He was also a close friend of the architect Christopher Wren. Hooke conducted over half of the surveys in London after the great fire of 1666 that Wren utilized in his plan to re-build the city after the disaster. Lectiones Cutlerianae, before treatment, cover. Our particular copy of “Lectiones Cutlerianae” belonged to Baron Grenville former Prime Minister of England (1806-1807) and Chancellor of Oxford University. The binding bears Grenville’s armorial seal on the front and back covers. The book has been previously re-backed, with a new piece of leather on the spine, as well as re-sewn. The re-sewing led to pressure being placed on the title page, causing a tear. There was also an unsightly previous attempt at paper repair to one of the 17 plates in the book. Lectiones Cutlerianae, before treatment, previous repair The title page was humidified using Gore-Tex sprayed with de-ionized water. The page was then re-attached, this time to the page below it using... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
The post below is brought to you by intern Miriam Storm. Miriam interned for the American Art/Portrait Gallery branch library. She has recently completed her Master of Letters in Art History at the University of St Andrews. Despite the time she spent there, she still does not know the first thing about golf but has become an expert on the Royal Family. Interested in our intern or fellowship opportunities? Check out the available positions on our web page! The Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library has a dynamic collection of over 150,000 files on artists, art institutions, and collectors. These files generally contain ephemera such as small exhibition brochures, announcements of or invitations to gallery shows, press releases, clippings, and/or reproductions. These files feature both well-known artists as well as ones that never became famous and also include illustrators such as Maxfield Parrish. Maxfield Parrish was an illustrator of the Golden Age of Illustration and provided America with fanciful images that have enthralled viewers for decades. Parrish worked on illustrations for books written by L. Frank Baum and Kenneth Grahame, for instance, and his works were always well-received. The Smithsonian Libraries has several fine examples of books illustrated by Parrish, including Poems of Childhood by Eugene Field and The Lure of the Garden by Hildegarde Hawthorne. Parrish’s works were met with such immense popularity that in 1925 copies of his painting Daybreak, “could be found in one out of every four American households.”[1] Parrish’s vertical file here at... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
Today, February 8th, 2012, marks the 184th anniversary of the birth of French science fiction pioneer Jules Verne. Verne was a visionary writer who took 19th century scientific inventions to wondrous levels in his books. The Smithsonian Libraries has several early editions of works by Verne. To learn more, visit "A Jules Verne Centennial: 1905-2005". Image: Science and Invention, Vol. VIII, No. 4, Aug. 1920 , 1920. Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
Below, Jaqueline Baird, one of our latest interns, gives an overview of her work at the Smithsonian Libraries. Interested in interning with us? Check out our Professional Development internships. Applications are open now through March 12, 2012. When I was young, and my parents took me to the library, I was amazed by the stacks filled with books. All of this information, right at my tiny fingertips. Worlds awaiting my young and eager imagination. The library was a special place for me then and continues to be a special place for me now. As an adult, I knew I wanted to be a librarian. A person who understands the extraordinary relationship between a person and a book. A person knows the value of information. A person who wants to help others. Through my journey to the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, I have only strengthened my understanding that libraries are special places and librarians are unique people. Museum Service Center Library in Suitland, MD. I applied for the internship in September and was accepted into the program in October. I was ecstatic. Here I was, a small town Pennsylvania girl becoming a part of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Every day since has been wonderful and exciting. I have learned so many new skills to supplement the library science education I am receiving at The Catholic University of America. From October to December I worked in the National Museum of the American Indian branch library under Baasil Wilder. Baasil has been an excellent... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
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Wondering what's new in the SIL stacks this month? Here's a sampling! Above the book listings, you'll see a slideshow with links to the WorldCat records for each book. If you are not a user of our physical collection, WorldCat will help you find a copy of the book in a library near you. Here are some of the newest additions to the National Air and Space Museum Library collection: Astronomy at the Frontiers of Scienceby Jean-Pierre Lasota, editor. Springer, New York/Dordrecht, 2011. QB47. A88 2011 Cataclysm: General Hap Arnold and the Defeat of Japan by Herman S. Wolk. University of North Texas Press,Denton, Texas, 2010. UG626.2 A76 W65 2010 DC-3, A Legend in Her Time. A 75th Anniversary Photographic Tribute by Bruce McAllister. Roundup Press, Boulder, Colorado, 2010. TL686. D65 M33 2010 Skies to Conquer: A Year Inside the Air Force Academy by Diana Jean Schemo. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2010. UG638.5 P1 S34 2010 Wings of Ice: The Mystery of the Polar Air Race by Jeff Maynard. Vintage Books, New South Wales, North Sydney, Australia. G608. M39 2010 —Leah Smith New books in the National Museum of American History Library: Benching Jim Crow : the rise and fall of the color line in southern college sports, 1890-1980 / / Charles H. Martin. Urbana : University of Illinois Press, c2010. GV706.32 .M37 2010 Founding rivals : Madison vs. Monroe, the Bill of Rights and the election that saved a nation / / by Chris DeRose.Washington, D.C.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
The Smithsonian Libraries will award up to three paid internships for graduate students interested in working in research and museum libraries for the summer of 2012. The internships cover specific areas of librarianship, including technical services, digital projects and research, and reference and reader services. Below are the available projects. Applications close March 12th, 2012. NASM Sheet Music Cataloging Candidates interested in the Libraries’ technical services will work in the Discovery Services Department, gaining valuable cataloging and metadata skills, particularly as they pertain to the description of sheet music held in the National Air and Space Museum branch. Intern will catalog sheet music by upgrading existing brief records. One of the special objectives of this project is to provide access to the graphic content of the publications, usually an illustrated title page (often referred to as a sheet music cover). The ideal candidate will possess knowledge of cataloging (music cataloging desirable) through coursework or practical experience. The ability to read musical notation is desirable. Bachelor’s degree in music preferred, but bachelor’s degree in any humanities field (art, literature, history, etc.) that would provide general background knowledge of American popular culture in late 19th century and 20th century would be acceptable. Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) Workflow Project Candidates interested in digital projects will assist Digital Services and Metadata Services staff in developing a workflow for the transfer of digital images from cds to the Smithsonian's enterprise-wide Digital Asset Management System. The intern will help to develop an efficient workflow for... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, in the Carnegie Mansion on 5th avenue, is closed for the next two years to undergo extensive renovations so that the entire mansion can be converted to exhibition galleries. The library, began in the 1890s by the Hewitt Sisters at Cooper Union, occupied the Carnegie Mansion’s third floor when the collections were obtained by SI in the 1970s. Since that time, the library has grown to include approximately 80,000 volumes, 4500 trade catalogues, and several picture collections. CHNDM Library Reading Room in the Carnegie Mansion For more than two years, CHM Library staff, volunteers, and student workers have been planning the move of the library into two new spaces – connected townhouses on 90th Street adjacent to the mansion known as Miller and Fox Houses, and to a facility in Newark, New Jersey. Over the past five months, the collections have moved partially to Miller-Fox, and partially to Newark. Library staff worked with SI's Office of Facilities Engineering and Operations and the design firms of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP and Gluckman Mayner Architects in planning these new spaces. The staff and public spaces of the Library are on the second floor of the connected Fox and Miller Houses. Two rooms of the Miller House, the former residence of Andrew & Louise Carnegie’s daughter Margaret and her husband Roswell Miller, were refurbished. One oak paneled room serves as the library’s workroom and offices for the CHM Library staff. The Fred & Rae S.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
Hello Beasley, Thank you for your comment! Unfortunately, the Smithsonian can not appraise items. Please see our "Information on Old Books" page for some help researching your books: http://www.sil.si.edu/SILPublications/old-books.htm
Toggle Commented Jan 23, 2012 on The Pageant of America at Smithsonian Libraries
For many years, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries has had a publication exchange program with various organizations around the world. Our exchange partners are generally universities, academies of sciences and arts, museums, government entities, and societies. Through our agreements, we swap our material, primarily the Smithsonian Contributions (a series of monographs which are written on a variety of subjects like anthropology, botany, marine sciences, museum conservation, paleobiology, and zoology), in exchange for titles by other institutions. Each Smithsonian Contributions issue is published initially online, followed by a print version for those who prefer that. All published issues can be found at: www.sil.si.edu/SmithsonianContributions/. One of our scientific journal exchanges has been with the American Museum of Natural History Library in New York City. We have worked with them since 1951 or before, according to our correspondence files. In exchange for our Smithsonian Contributions series and various National Museum of Natural History departmental publications, we receive their American Museum Novitates and Bulletin of the A.M.N.H., in addition to many of their monographic publications on paleontology, zoology, botany, and taxonomy and the systematics of various types of plants and animals. Images: Top: Cover of Catalogue of Seed Plants of the West Indies by Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez and Mark T. Strong. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, no. 98. via Smithsonian Scholarly Press. Bottom - Tylosaurus from Animals of the past by Frederic A. Lucas. New York :[Amer. Mus. Press]1922., via the Biodiversity Heritage Library. — Dana Feil Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
Did you know that January is National Soup Month? We didn't either but it gave us a great topic for this month's Cooking from the Collections feature! We whipped up two creamy, comforting vegetable soups that are sure to warm you up. We're happy to say that although they are the simplest recipes we've tried, they were also the most lauded by our SIL tasters (well, those without lactose issues, that is). Turns out you can't go wrong with butter and milk, flavored with a smidgen of vegetables. A cooking textbook from 1915 demonstrates that Paula Deen wasn't the first to hit upon that successful formula! Green Pea Soup This recipe comes from the fascinating A text-book of cooking by Carlotta C. Greer, published in 1915. As the title indicates, it was designed as a textbook to accompany cooking classes and hidden in the "Body-Building Vegetables" chapter was this gem. Despite the healthy-sounding name, this soup was so very rich and creamy that one taster commented "That soup should be a sauce". In fact, the basis of the dish is a simple white sauce, flavored with a bit of mushed peas. I take partial blame for the meager amount of vegetables, though. The recipes instructed me to cook the peas until "very soft". It occurred to me later that my modern idea of peas that are soft are probably still undercooked by 1915 standards. In addition, I found that mashing something through a strainer takes some serious upper body work!... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
Over the past few years, we have had the opportunity to share many of the items in our collection about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy. Below are a few relevant links that you might find of interest on this day, as we remember King's place in American history. Martin Luther King and the American Civil Rights Movement in Visual Culture Monographs> Some MLK Reading Choices Some More MLK Reading Choices Many other museums and research units in the Smithsonian hold fascinating items related to Dr. King in their collections. Click on the links below to learn more. Martin Luther King Jr. , through the Scurlock lens (National Museum of American History) Remember Martin Luther King, Jr. (Smithsonian Institution Archives) Let Your Motto Be Resistance (National Museum of African American History and Culture) Martin Luther King and other Civil Rights activists in the Time Collection (National Portrait Gallery) Opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on August 22nd, 2011. Photo by Liz O'Brien, via SIL Facebook page. Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
There are times when we receive items in the Book Conservation Lab that have been altered from their original format. This was the case with a seven volume set of L’Assiette au Beurre, a French social protest magazine from the early twentieth century, from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library. Before treatment – detached spine The magazine was published from 1901-1912 and featured the drawings, mainly caricatures, by many well known artists such as Juan Gris, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen and Frank Kupka. Through caricature, these artists poked fun at the wealthy, police, politicians, the military, the church, and other established or bourgeois groups as well as addressing social and political issues of the Belle Epoque era. Covers The individual issues had been bound commercially by year into modern buckram covered cloth bindings. This oversewn binding structure placed considerable stress on the already brittle issues of the magazine causing damage and breakage. Cover in Bound Volumes As a result, the decision was made to dis-bind the issues. The issues were carefully removed from the binding, cleaned, repaired and then placed in individual Mylar L Sleeves. The issues were then placed in custom made double tray boxes by year. Researchers can now access any of the issues without unnecessary wear to the entire year’s run of issues. After Shots of Box — Katie Wagner Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
Today, January 6th, marks the 100th anniversary of New Mexico's statehood. In 1848, the land was cededed to the United States by Mexico via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the territory was later admitted as a state of the union in 1912 when President Taft signed the statehood declaration. This image, showing the entrance of an adobe home in Paguate, was taken by photographer Edward S. Curtis, ca 1925. His tome The North American Indian attempted to chronicle what he called a "vanishing race". The Smithsonian Libraries holds a complete set of his work, donated by Mrs. Edward H. Harriman, whose husband had conducted an expedition to Alaska, with Curtis as photographer, in 1899. To learn more about Curtis, click through our online exhibit here. To learn more about the State of New Mexico and their centennial activities click here. Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
For the past two weeks, it has been my privilege to work with the collections of the National Museum of Natural History Library here in Washington, DC. As part of my library studies program at the University of British Columbia, I came here to do a short practicum and learn as much as I could about natural history libraries. I am fascinated by the natural world and ornithology, so I was very excited to come and see first hand the “ins and outs” of a world-class life sciences library and museum. During my time here I worked on two projects, one in the Fishes library and the other in Reptiles. The Fishes collection holds more than 8,000 items, and is slated for relocation in January 2012. The NMNH Library was eager to safeguard the collection following the recent experience they had when their main collection was moved to a new location. The contractors hired to move the items were not gentle, and some items were damaged as a result. My responsibility was to go through the Fishes collection and identify items that were fragile or in poor condition. I also removed a few duplicate items and set others aside for Special Collections. The Reptiles collection will also be moved in January. The new location will follow the Library of Congress call number system for shelving serials, rather than journal title. Reorganizing the serials was simple but not easy. The reorganization process was complicated by the fact that not all the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
Our oldest bound volume in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries is from circa 1280. It gives me a thrill every day that I can actually take off the shelf and hold in my hand a 730 year-old book! The text of the codex is in meticulous fine lettering in Latin, hand-writing of course, on smooth parchment. Page to page one can see the beautifully even layout, the red and blue markings for the end of the paragraphs and the occasionally occurring multicolored big initial letters. The first section of the book is a very detailed index making it possible for the reader to find certain names and topics in the volume. The index is followed by the first text page which usually takes the viewers’ breath away. On the margins and within the large initial letters brilliant little illuminations appear: ornamental decoration, small figures, garlands, flowers and plants. All the vivid colors, including gold, have taken the test of times very well. Did the medieval artist know the content of the book? Can we draw conclusions from the decoration regarding what the text is about? Probably not; however, there is a delightful harmony between this first decorated page and the following literary work. That is because the book is actually a compendium of things in nature, written by Bartholomaeus Anglicus, the 13th century famously knowledgeable Franciscan monk. The title is The properties of things. This does not give us much concrete information about content. On further examination it turns out that... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2012 at Smithsonian Libraries
This time of year is full of lists -- to-dos and "best of"s and, of course, resolutions. If you've found yourself a little lacking in the resolution-making department this year, we offer a few suggestions: Dust off that old sewing machine in Granny's basement and learn more about it in our collection of Sewing Machine Trade Literature. Do good and help preserve a literary treasure by adopting a book. Find gorgeous graphic inspiration for all sorts of creative projects in our digitized copy of the Japanese design book, Shin bijutsukai Save money while fueling your new eReader with our handy list of free resources. Finally identify that mysterious berry in your backyard by using LeafSnap and then searching for more about the species in the Biodiversity Heritage Library Benefit from SI's mission to increase and diffuse knowledge by browsing over 10,000 museum and staff publications freely available in the Smithsonian Digital Repository. What are your resolutions for the new year? Any that are book or library related? We'd love to know in the comments. Whatever you do in the coming year, we hope it is filled with happiness! Happy New Year from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries! Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2011 at Smithsonian Libraries
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On October 28, 2011, NHM, London, in collaboration with the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, the Society for the History of Natural History and others, hosted a symposium, "Anchoring Biodiversity Information: From Sherborn to the 21st century and beyond,” honoring the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Davies Sherborn. Sherborn, 1861-1942, played a critical role in the biodiversity world by being the first to successfully index every living or extinct animal discovered and documented between 1758 and 1850. His greatest work, Index Animalium, took over 43 years to complete but is still referred to by taxonomist around the world. The one-day event, held at the Flett Theatre at the Natural History Museum, London, celebrated the incredible achievements of Sherborn and the ramifications for taxonomic research yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The Smithsonian Libraries presented at the symposium with Suzanne Pilsk, metadata librarian, giving a talk and Grace Costantino (Digital Collections Librarian for BHL) and Leslie Overstreet (Curator of the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library at SIL) presenting a poster. Unlocking indexanimaliumstatic View more presentations from SCPilsk SIL’s Suzanne Pilsk explained the role Smithsonian Libraries has played in bringing the critical work Index Animalium out of the library and off the page with a talk titled “Unlocking the Index Animalium: From paper slips to bytes and bits” (pictured above). Pilsk represented the work done to date by SIL staff, interns and volunteers to create an online version of the work. Smithsonian Libraries’ goal was to provide better access to the Index... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2011 at Smithsonian Libraries
May you have a happy and peaceful holiday season and a joyous new year! Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2011 at Smithsonian Libraries