Join Smithsonian Libraries and Archives for Adopt-a-Book Salons

The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives’ Adopt-a-Book Salons offer a chance to take a closer look at our collections and the opportunity to support their preservation and acquisition. William Bennett previews one intriguing item that will be available.

AaB Save the Date.png

Mark your calendar for this year’s Adopt-a-Book events! Join us on April 20th and April 26th, 2022 for a closer look at our collections and the opportunity to support their preservation and acquisition.

Each year, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives (formerly Smithsonian Libraries) staff organize Adopt-a-Book events where items are “put up for adoption,” and interested supporters can adopt an item by way of a donation. The adopted item serves as an emblem of their commitment to that backing. Many who choose to adopt an item pick a book or archival document that speaks to their personal interests, like a dedicated home baker who might adopt a historical cookbook, or an avid gardener who might choose an illustrated botanical catalog.

In the past, events have been held in person, and attendees were able to see the items available to be adopted up close and to hear about the books directly from Smithsonian staff. Last year, in a virtual format, the Smithsonian Institution Archives joined the events for the first time, bringing our collections from the Smithsonian’s history to Adopt-a-Book audiences.

The Smithsonian Institution Archives is taking the lead for 2022’s virtual events! With that role, we are also expanding the types of items up for adoption. Our archival collections (and our library collections, for that matter) don’t hold just books—and not just paper-based items, either. This year we are excited to include photographic collections and audiovisual materials alongside field journals, correspondence, and botanical illustrations from the Archives, as well as a variety of books from eight library locations.

Graphic for Adopt-a-Book Salons featuring botanical illustration.
Adopt-a-Book Salons Save the Date graphic, featuring Adelia Gates botanical illustration, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7312. Smithsonian Institution Archives
One of the items I am most excited to feature from the Archives is a drawing from the architectural records of the Smithsonian. Done on translucent paper by the architectural firm Babb, Cook & Willard, the drawing was used to sketch out design elements of an elevator in Scottish-American steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s turn-of-the-century New York City mansion, now the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. The elevator depicted was among the first of its kind in New York residences and is now kept in the collections of the National Museum of American History. The drawing is also interesting because of a large ink spill that obscures part of the detail, which has caused large losses and widespread embrittlement of the paper. We don’t know how the ink got spilled over the drawing, but it’s fascinating to imagine Carnegie consulting the elevator’s details at his desk and becoming distracted or startled—knocking over his inkpot in the process!
Architectural design with significant damage.
The large area of loss, or missing drawing, in this elevator diagram appears to have been caused by an ink spill. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 637. Image courtesy of William Bennett. William Bennett

Some of the items available for adoption have been previously featured on The Bigger Picture. Check out our related resources below for links to posts describing those collections!

We are excited to host two different evening opportunities for members of the public to learn more about our collections and have an opportunity to adopt something that catches their eye. The breadth and depth of the Libraries and Archives collections will be on display, and we will celebrate the ways that they intersect and complement each other as they tell the story of the United States and of the larger world. Come join us!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at 5:30 PM
Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 5:30 PM

Related Resources