The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives enjoys a dynamic and multifaceted role within the Smithsonian Institution. The Libraries and Archives is a service provider, meeting the needs of the Institution’s scholars, curators and researchers around the world. It is a public educator in its own right with an active exhibition program and progressive digital library initiative, bringing important, rare and valuable works from the collections to the widest audience possible online. The Libraries and Archives is a steward of the Smithsonian’s institutional memory, capturing, preserving and making available its history.
From the Smithsonian’s inception in 1846 to the present, its books, manuscripts and records of its people, programs, research and stories have been gathered, organized, preserved, exhibited and disseminated by the Institution’s librarians and archivists. The importance of establishing both a library and an archive was explicitly mentioned in the earliest organizing documents of the Smithsonian. In 2020, the Smithsonian Libraries joined forces with the Smithsonian Institution Archives to become the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, evolving into a unified organization to better serve users at the Smithsonian and around the world.