Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Library

The Earl Silas Tupper Library in Tropical Biology,  located on Ancón Hill, Panama City, Republic of Panamá, supports the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). The Library is one of twenty-one branches of the Smithsonian Libraries, supporting research, publications, exhibits and public programming of STRI, as well as those of other museums and research institutions in Panamá and across Central America.

About STRI

In 2010, STRI celebrated 100 years of tropical biology research beginning with the Smithsonian’s Panama Biological Survey in 1910–1912. Scientists who contributed to the U.S. effort to build the Panama Canal by eradicating disease-carrying mosquitos, with colleagues from the Institute for Research in Tropical America, founded Barro Colorado Island Research Station in 1923. In 1946, the station became a bureau of the Smithsonian. Its name changed to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in 1966. More information on STRI can be found on its website.


The STRI Library collects research-oriented, academic and highly technical materials in Tropical Diversity and Its Origins, Marine Ecology and Evolution, Ecology and Physiology of Tropical Forests, Behavior and Adaptive Evolution, Archaeology, Anthropology and Human Ecology, Paleoecology, natural and protected areas, research policy, and the Panama Canal and its watershed. The collection comprises over 34,000 monographs, 24,000 print serial volumes, a vertical file, map and special collection. The special collection protects over 900 monographs and serials, including a complete set of the turn of the 20th century Biologia Centrali Americana from the collection of Barro Colorado Island.

Learn more about STRI Library collections either searching OneSearch and the SIRIS catalog, or through the Related Information tabs on the right of this page.

Library Services for Smithsonian Researchers

Researcher Support is available in person at the STRI Library and remotely by email, phone and web conferencing. Staff can request custom orientations and trainings for individuals and groups about any of the Library’s research tools, research methods and strategies, research output, and managing data output. The Library offers scanning, printing and photocopying services for STRI colleagues. Access the How Do I… pages for information about many of the above topics.

Orientations and training are scheduled in the library Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:00 am; also available by appointment and for walk-ins .

Regular visits by library staff for training and outreach will occur to *BCI, *Bocas del Toro (*virtually upon request), Galeta, Gamboa, and Naos Research Stations. Watch for announcements by station managers for timing. Visitors working at CTPA and Tupper, please visit the library, or contact us with questions.

Research Tools Page Use the OneSearch bar to search across the Smithsonian Libraries collections of electronic subscription and print journals, articles, books, etc.

E-journals, E-books, and Databases Search or browse the E-journals, E-books, and Databases for thousands of e-journals by title, and access databases such as Web of Science, Zoological Record, and more. Note: It is not necessary to search all of these separately. Most are searched simultaneously by OneSearch. Many electronic books have been purchased for the STRI Library on the ProQuest Ebook Central platform. While you do not need a library account, you must be on a STRI network computer or logged into EZProxy to access these titles.

Remote Access for Research Tools via EZproxy *for patrons with SI email accounts. When not on the SI network, start your research at the Research Tools page. This enables EZproxy to prompt for your SI credentials to access the Libraries’ subscription e-resources.

Smithsonian Research Online (SRO) Explore the active, ongoing research in the Smithsonian world. Use this resource to access the most comprehensive bibliography of STRI publication citations available.

Data Management to actively managing your data throughout the research process enables reproducibility, reusability and discovery, and can help maximize the impact of your research. 

Get your library account Researchers with a valid Smithsonian identification badge can open a borrower account. Complete the form and submit it to the reference desk or via Interlibrary Loan (ILL) lending services are available for requests beyond the STRI Library collections. Short-term STRI visiting researchers generally do not receive library accounts or lending, but are welcome to use the library resources and make requests for chapters and articles.

Library Services for the visiting public

The STRI Library is open to University Students, Professors, and the general public without an appointment.

The public do not have borrowing privileges or stacks access to the 3 story library Annex, but may utilize all library print and electronic resources subscribed to by the Smithsonian Libraries within the Library Reading Room.

Scanning services are available for the public, printing and photocopying are not.

Gifts and Donations

The STRI Library welcomes gifts of books and other research materials which add depth to the academic resources available to our community. Particular interest is paid to scholarly, current, or rare items in good physical condition. Details are outlined here to assist potential donors when offering materials to the branch. Based upon these criteria, the STRI Library retains the right to accept or to decline potential gifts.

Acceptable potential gifts include materials which:

  • Support the Smithsonian Institution’s current and evolving collection interests and principles.
  • Sustain the research needs of Smithsonian staff and researchers.
  • Augment collections of depth.
  • Enhance the unique and noteworthy holdings of Smithsonian Libraries’ special collections.

We are not able to accept gifts when:

  • Materials are not in good physical condition, e.g., contain mold or mildew, tears, stains, water damage or are in any way impaired in a manner that results in limited or restricted use. These items are potentially harmful to existing collections.
  • Materials require significant restoration or conservation or unique storage, unless accompanied by appropriate funding.
  • A donor places restrictions that will negatively affect access to and use of the materials.
  • Textbooks.
  • Popular trade paperbacks.
  • Single issues of periodicals or broken runs of bound periodicals, unless they fill gaps in our current collection.
  • Obsolete media formats such as LPs, videos, cassettes, etc.
  • Materials which duplicate current holdings.
  • Photocopies/facsimiles of original materials.
Volunteering at the Library

Volunteers have provided a primary means of support for the Smithsonian Institution since its establishment in 1846. Strong volunteer partnerships are essential for the Institution to successfully carry out its work. For more information about volunteering at the STRI Library, please see the STRI Volunteers page, or contact us with inquiries to apply.

For more information, please contact us:

Email the Reference Desk

Call the Reference Desk       From Panama: (+507) 212-8113      From the USA: (202) 633-4700 ext. 8113