A premier American history collection and one of 20 branch libraries in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) system, the National Museum of American History (NMAH) Library supports research in the following areas:
- advances in technology, including machinery and transportation
- all areas of American history, including social, cultural, political, and economic events and development
- the impact of social, cultural, political and economic developments on everyday American life
- scientific developments
The Library is open to Smithsonian affiliated staff, researchers, and fellows during regular hours, and to outside researchers by appointment. Books and journals are arranged by the Library of Congress classification system, and some stacks are open to visiting researchers. Specific information on library holdings may be obtained from the library staff.
Originally located in the Arts and Industries Building, the library collection complemented object collections. Library materials in the former Office Library, Arts and Industries Library, and sectional libraries (departments of civil history, military history, science and technology, arts and manufacturing) came together to form the Library. It moved to the new Museum of History and Technology in 1964, into its current 5th floor location. The Museum’s name changed in October 1980 to the National Museum of American History to better reflect its mission -- the collection, care, and study of objects reflecting the experience of the American people.
The Library collection includes:
- over 120,000 book titles
- 45,000 volumes of bound serials, 300 current titles, and 3,000 non-current titles
- 500 microfilm titles (approx. 8,000 reels of microfilm)
- 20,000 microfiche
All NMAH Library holdings are listed in the SIL online catalog SIRIS, the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System.