At Smithsonian Libraries, we are eager to help you find the resources you need for teaching K-12 students across the nation and for your own professional development. Through our rich collections and collaborations across the Smithsonian, we offer engaging content in the arts, sciences, history and culture, and museum pedagogy that will meet your curriculum needs. The quality of our digital resources allows for their ready use and distribution, and they provide an opportunity to teach research techniques to students of all ages in a world where it’s difficult to source and vet information. Check out what we have below.
Classroom Resources from Smithsonian Libraries
Traveling Trunks is a bi-lingual resource-lending program from the Smithsonian Libraries. These multimedia library kits are packed full of resources from across the Smithsonian Institution that deliver immersive experiences. Through touch, tech, sound, and sight, Traveling Trunks creates a screen-free, sensorial-rich environment. The program is a free resource for young learners and their educators. Traveling Trunks can be sent to libraries, schools, community centers, and other learning sites for a month-long lending period, with the option to renew, anywhere in the United States. All costs, including shipping are covered; we just ask that users have access to a FedEx office. *The physical distribution of the Traveling Trunks program is suspended. However, the work continues and the digitial content is available.
Social and Emotional Learning
Smithsonian Libraries and National Portrait Gallery offer social & emotional learning tools anchored in kindness to help navigate the impact and feelings of living through big moments in history. Collections are available for grades K, 1, 2, and 3.
Smithsonian Libraries Digital Collections
The Libraries has digitized rare books (pre-1924), journals, and manuscripts on subjects ranging from advertising and aeronautics to zinc sculpture and Zuni cuisine. Our online collections include images from illustrated books, digitized drawings and photos, as well as indexes to some of our special collections such as art and artist vertical files, trade catalogs, postal history ephemera and more!
Smithsonian Libraries Online Exhibitions
Thematic, online exhibitions featuring items from our collections, from Artists’ Books in Africa to Zoos: A Historical Perspective.
Guides developed by our library subject experts offer a collection of vetted resources in the following areas: Art & Design Research Guides, History & Culture Research Guides, and Natural & Physical Sciences Research Guides.
Smithsonian Libraries Blog Unbound
Explore our blog to find amazing items and ideas highlighted in our collections.
Color our Collections
Classroom Resources from across the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Learning Lab
Smithsonian Learning Lab puts the treasures of the world's largest museum, education, and research complex within reach. The Lab is a free, interactive platform for discovering millions of authentic digital resources, creating content with online tools, and sharing in the Smithsonian's expansive community of knowledge and learning. As a focused extension of Learning Lab, Distance Learning Resources are committed to supporting teachers and their students around the globe.
Smithsonian Open Access
Download, share, reuse, and remix millions of Smithsonian images—right now, for free from Smithsonian Open Access. Access nearly 3 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s nineteen museums, nine research centers, twenty-one libraries, numerous archives, and the National Zoo.
Biodiversity Heritage Library
The Biodiversity Heritage Library provides free and open access to over 250,000 volumes from the 15th-21st centuries on a wide range of biodiversity subjects. Find primary resources, images, thematic collections, and citizen science projects. Learn more. Also check out the BHL Flickr feed for stunning sets of illustrations.
Visit the Libraries
*As a public health precaution, all Smithsonian museum and Libraries locations are temporarily closed. We are not announcing an opening date at this time.
We encourage educators to visit our libraries to take full advantage of our resources. Most of our libraries are in the DC Metro area, but we also have branches in New York City and Panama. See a list of our locations. Our Libraries are generally open from 9:00am-5:00pm Monday-Friday, excluding U.S. government holidays. Because we are located behind-the-scenes, most locations require an appointment; please call ahead. Not sure which locations may have the material you are interested in using? Browse our branch websites, search our catalog, or contact Ask a Librarian to find where collections are housed. For more information, see: FAQs on using the Libraries.
Contact Ask a Librarian to discuss options for field trips to engage our library resources or learn about what we do. Let us know about your interests and plans, what you’re hoping to discover.