Education | National

NMAI Blog: Research library donated to tribal colleges across US





"The closing of the Resource Center posed one significant challenge for us: What to do with the approximately 5,500-volume research library?

The library was built over a six-year period, and reflected the needs and interests of a diverse crowd—schoolchildren conducting research for class assignments, graduate students working on PhD dissertations, interested persons researching family histories, and staff exploring a variety of topics for upcoming exhibitions, programs, and educational products. As a museum, we wanted to be sure that we could continue to serve each of these audiences. For the Activity Center, we knew we had space limitations that would require some new thinking.

Thankfully, NMAI has a library in each of our three facilities. The Resource Center at the George Gustav Heye Center (GGHC), the museum’s branch in New York City, holds a very similar collection, for a similarly diverse audience, while the Cultural Resources Center (CRC), the collections and research facility in Maryland, houses the main academic library. Working with our librarian, and coordinating with the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, we found a wonderful solution which benefits thousands more people then we originally hoped.

Through an amazing series of connections, those 3,000+ volumes are now making their way to libraries at tribal colleges. Smithsonian has de-accessioned these duplicate volumes and donated them to the Library of Congress (LOC), which has a surplus books program. LOC staff work with the American Indian Library Association and a retired librarian from the Department of Agriculture—which pays for shipping the books to the tribes—to direct titles related to American Indians to tribal colleges. What a wonderful way to give back!"

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Found: Good New Homes for Books (NMAI Blog 3/7)