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Museum Support Center Library

The Museum Support Center Library serves the research needs of all staff at the Smithsonian’s Museum Support Center (MSC) in Suitland, Maryland. See below for subject areas covered by the MSC collections. Books and serials are arranged in the Library of Congress classification system. Stacks are open to Smithsonian staff and visitors to MSC. Specific information on Branch Library holdings may be obtained from the library staff.

The Museum Support Center is a museum collections management facility designed for the purposes of collections storage, research, and conservation. One of the first such facilities in the world of its kind, the MSC was dedicated in May 1983. The facility covers 4 ½ acres of land and contains over half a million square feet of space. Located in Silver Hill, Maryland, 6 miles southeast from the Smithsonian Museums on the mall, this unique zigzag shaped building incorporates the latest in museum technology.

In its laboratory and office areas, the MSC houses the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute (MCI), the Laboratories of Analytical Biology (LAB) and numerous departments from the National Museum of Natural History. The National Anthropological Archives (NAA) and the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit (WRBU) are also located at MSC.


The Museum Support Center Library houses approximately 25,000 volumes, including over 500 serial titles as well as an audiovisual and microform collection.

Specialized subject coverage includes:

  • Conservation, restoration, preservation, deterioration of materials and of museum objects as well as the scientific understanding of these processes.
  • Molecular evolution, molecular systematics, molecular genetics, population genetics, phylogenetic theory and analysis, electrophoresis genetics, evolutionary biology, protein DNA and RNA analysis as it relates to topics in natural history, plant molecular biology, and animal molecular biology.
  • Medical entomology, keys to identification, taxonomic, and systematic works on fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
  • The Mary J. Rathbun Crustacea and The Wilson Copepod collections.