For Educators


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. Check out what we have below. 

Collections and Resources for the Classroom

Traveling Trunks

Traveling Trunks is a 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 Traveling Trunks program is suspended while the Libraries are closed due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

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.

Smithsonian Libraries Blog Unbound

Explore our blog to find amazing items and ideas highlighted in our collections.

Color our Collections

Free, downloadable coloring packets based on images in our collection. Three packets are available, Volume I, Volume II, and Color in New Light .

Research Guides

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 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.

For Educators

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.

For Classes

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.

Have a question?

Ask a Librarian is our remote reference service. Contact us at any time with questions and we will get back to you within a few days.