The Dibner Library
In October 1976, the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology opened its doors in what was known as the Museum of the History of Technology, now the National Museum of American History, Behring Center. The collection of 10,000 books and 1,600 manuscript groups, which traveled to Washington, DC, from the Burndy Library in Norwalk, Connecticut, has grown to form one of the cornerstones of the Libraries' collections. In October 2001, the Dibner Library celebrated a quarter century of providing vital primary sources to scholars, curators, and members of the scientific community by hosting a special symposium with a keynote lecture by Owen Gingerich.
To mark this anniversary, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL), with the generous support of The Dibner Fund, held an afternoon symposium entitled "Exploring the Past, Shaping the Future: The Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology at 25 Years." The symposium began with a talk, "From Collector to Reader: Bern Dibner and History of Science Collections," by the noted rare book dealer and scholar, Roger Gaskell. This was followed by a panel, comprised of scholars and notable scientists and curators from around the nation, that debated issues concerning the course of contemporary research in the history of science and technology and discussed the potential impact of the Smithsonian Libraries' collections on this scholarship.
SIL's annual Dibner Library Lecture followed the symposium. Owen Gingerich, who is both a Professor of Astronomy and History of Science at Harvard University and Senior Astronomer Emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory delivered a talk entitled "Icons of Understanding: Celebrating Bern Dibner's Heralds of Science," which focused on one of the gems in the SIL collections. The Heralds of Science is a series of books, which collectively represent the most important contributions to the physical and biological sciences that have been issued since the beginning of printing.
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