National Air and Space Museum Library

A premier aviation and aerospace history collection, the National Air and Space Museum Library supports research by the Museum’s curatorial staff and aviation researchers around the world. It’s one of the largest branches in the Smithsonian Libraries’ twenty-branch system, which is analogous to a university library system.

The general collection consists of monographs (books), serials, technical reports, government publications and microforms. With approximately 40,000 volumes, the collection supports the following research:

  • aerospace, including aviation history
  • air transport and aviation (civil and military)
  • astronomy
  • astrophysics
  • balloons and ballooning
  • flight material, including propulsion
  • geology: lunar, planetary, and terrestrial
  • remote sensing
  • rocket engine design
  • space history, including spacecraft design and instrumentation
Using the Library

On-site use of the National Air and Space Museum Library

Please call for an appointment as far in advance of your planned visit as possible since space is limited and the reading room may be temporarily closed to accommodate Museum functions. When you arrive at the National Air and Space Museum, please report to the Security Desk adjacent to the Independence Avenue entrance and have them call the Library. We will send down a staff member to escort you to the Library. You will be issued a temporary visitor’s badge at this time.

Photocopiers, microfilm reader/printers, and video-printers are available for a fee to researchers. Notebook computers may be used in the reading rooms; the use of additional computer equipment, such as scanners, as well as cameras and a copy stand is also permitted.

Library Reading Room

Research on most topics can be completed in the main National Air and Space Museum Library Reading Room. Because the collections of the National Air and Space Museum Library and the National Air and Space Museum Archives are co-located in the National Air and Space Museum, researchers working here may also make use of the collections of the National Air and Space Museum Library Archives. A reference archivist is on duty in the reading room.