Search Library Collections

Search Tools

These search tools help users navigate our library collections and subscription-based resources and direct non-Smithsonian users to free research resources.


The OneSearch portal lets users search the Smithsonian Libraries catalog, e-journals, e-books, and many research databases from a single search box. Access to many e-resources will be restricted to Smithsonian community use only.

E-journals, E-books, and Databases

The E-journals, E-books, and Databases page is divided into two sections:

  • E-journals and E-books finder is at the top. This section allows users to browse and search for available e-journals and e-books by title and subject.
  • A-Z List of Databases is the lower section. This provides an alphabetical listing of research databases, most of which are restricted to Smithsonian staff use only.

Library Catalog

The Library Catalog, also known as SIRIS,  searches the library collections of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, primarily featuring records for print books and journals, along with links to digitized volumes. Note: this search is not as comprehensive as OneSearch, so it is better for known item searching rather than keyword searching.  

Free Databases and Collections

Free Databases and Collections provides a list of electronic resources, curated by Smithsonian librarians, that are freely accessible to anyone. They include tools for science, art, history and culture research.

Digital Collections

Our digital collections include digitized books and manuscripts as well as digitized photo collections, ephemera, and catalogs found in the Smithsonian Libraries.

Books Online

Books Online provides search for a selection of over 25,000 full-text volumes digitized from the Smithsonian Libraries’ collections.

Image Gallery

The Image Gallery provides search function for a selection of book illustrations, photographs, drawings, and other images from across the Libraries’ collections.

Biodiversity Heritage Library

The Biodiversity Heritage Library is the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. Search the full-text contributions of the biodiversity community, including materials from the Smithsonian Libraries.

Digitized Trade Literature Collections

  • Instruments for Science is a collection of uniquely valuable trade literature that tells the history of 19th century science through instrument catalogs.
  • Seed and Nursery Catalogs includes a colorful collection of catalogs that document the history of the seed and agricultural implement business as well as ornamental and edible plants in the U.S.
  • Sewing Machines: Historical Trade Literature in Smithsonian Collections is a collection of catalogs, manuals, and brochures from several Smithsonian sources showing the range of material published by and about American sewing machines companies from the 1840s to the early 20th century.

Shedding Light on New York

Shedding Light on New York is a massive archive of photographs which shows the variety of lighting fixtures E. F. Caldwell & Co. produced for wealthy clients like Carnegie, Morgan, and Astor. You can search the image archive by product, client last name, architecture firm, project, and keyword.

Taxonomic Literature II (TL-2)

The online version of Taxonomic Literature 2, the premier guide to the literature of systematic botany. The database is searchable by keyword, author name, title number, author name abbreviation, or title abbreviation. The search results are displayed within the scanned page and the parallel OCRed and corrected text

Collection Inventories

Many of our physical collections have not yet been digitized. The resources listed below are portals for searching the inventories of those collections.

Trade Literature

The Trade Literature collection includes nearly 500,000 catalogs, brochures, price lists, and other sales publications from almost 40,000 companies. Use the search box to find records by company name, brand name, industry, and other related keywords.

Art and Artist Files

Via the Art and Artist Files portal, users can search the art and artist file collections and learn details about each collection held by seven library branches. At this time, only the Artist and Institutional Files are indexed online, and require in-person use.

Smithsonian Libraries Artists’ Books

The Smithsonian Libraries Artists’ Books portal allows users to get more details on the artists’ books collections spread across the Libraries. Users can filter their searches based on topic, name, language and more.

Hirshhorn Museum Library Audio Archive

The Hirshhorn Museum Library Audio Archive provides an index and samples from event recordings and artist interviews dating back to the founding of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 1969.

Postal Files at the National Postal Museum Library

Use the Postal Files at the National Postal Museum Library to search an inventory of archival files in the Library of the National Postal Museum including Panama Canal Zone and Aerial Mail Service material.

Last Updated July 12, 2022