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The Newseum Library

by Rick Mastroianni

The Newseum in Washington, D.C., increases public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment through compelling exhibits, video and interactive productions, public programs and other initiatives. I am pleased to introduce you to the Research and Library function, which provides research and access to information resources in support of this vital mission. I am fortunate, as a solo librarian, to offer our staff the benefit of a large physical collection located at an off-site facility and also be present in a small office embedded with the Exhibit Development staff on-site at the Newseum. My time is split between the two locations.

The Library

The library’s physical space is located at the Newseum Support Center in Laurel, Md. We have a print collection of more than 15,000 volumes geared toward general reference, journalism, journalism history, the U.S. Constitution and First Amendment, photojournalism, civil rights and American history.

We also have a small print periodical collection, an audio visual collection and more than 5,000 subject and biographical research files developed for exhibits and other projects.
The physical space gets very little patron traffic, but the collection is well-used and I’m able to check out and deliver items to staff on short notice.


Embedded at the Newseum

I usually spend at least three days a week embedded with the Exhibit Development staff in an open work area on-site at the Newseum. This allows me to be present throughout the exhibit development process and attend regular management, staff and exhibit meetings. I respond to and anticipate research needs as they come to my attention.

My day-to-day work involves providing research, guiding writers and editors who conduct their own research, editing and fact-checking exhibit scripts, and maintaining the library’s print and online resources. I also serve as an administrator for the Newseum’s digital asset management system.

Online presence

The library’s online presence is the staff’s gateway to the library catalog and provides access to commercial electronic database subscriptions that include ProQuest Historical Newspapers, EBSCO’s Communications and Mass Media Complete, Facts on File, Encyclopedia Britannica, Associated Press Collections Online, JSTOR, and a small collection of e-books.


The library researches and fact-checks the compelling exhibits and the stories the Newseum tells about press freedom and the importance of the First Amendment. One important example is our Journalists Memorial, which recognizes journalists who are killed while reporting the news around the world. Many of these journalists are targeted and murdered for exposing corruption or violent crime. Others are killed while reporting from dangerous conflict zones. It’s a humbling privilege to help bring these stories to public attention and participate in the annual ceremony to rededicate the memorial.

I am currently reviewing and fact-checking the script for our upcoming exhibit, Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement, which opens March 8, 2019. My contribution also included enlisting the support and collaboration of LGBTQ academics, authors, journalists, activists and other experts to advise us and review the script for content and inclusive language.

I recently finished fact-checking the script for a small exhibit about the recent shooting at the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., that killed five staff members. Our curatorial team obtained artifacts from a makeshift memorial outside the newspaper’s offices. It’s important for the Newseum to tell about this rare case of U.S. journalists killed for their work in this country. Visitors will be able to view the exhibit this month.

Please don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Newseum on your next trip to the Washington, D.C. area.

Copyright 2018 by Rick Mastroianni.

About the author:

Rick Mastroianni is the Newseum’s Director/Research and Library. He has worked in all areas of exhibit development research, news research, fact-checking and library management since joining the organization in 1996. Prior to working at the Newseum, Rick established information centers at Earle Palmer Brown Advertising in Bethesda, Md., and First Consulting Group, a healthcare management consulting firm based in Long Beach, Calif. He has an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Long Beach State University and master’s degree in Library Science from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Rick can be reached at rmastroianni@newseum.org