Thursday, 24 March 2016

Information Services Group Visit to the Zoological Society of London Library

The CILIP Information Services Group recently organised a visit to the Zoological Society of London Library, which I signed up for really quickly. The Library is located near London Zoo, and we gathered in the Council Room of the ZSL headquarters to begin the visit.

ZSL is the charity behind London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo, as well as being a research institute funded by UCL. We were told a bit about the history of ZSL, which was established by Sir Stamford Raffles and Sir Humphry Davy in 1826. Impressively, women were admitted as fellows from 1827. The Council Room is full of pictures of individuals who have made contributions to the Society, including Prince Albert, who was the President from 1851-61, Harry Johnston (who discovered the okapi and many, many other animals), and Miriam Rothschild. Famous names in the visitors' book include Elizabeth II, Emperor Hirohito, John Paul Getty and Jackie Kennedy.

The Library, which can be reached online at, is located upstairs in the building and is a rich resource of books and journals about zoology and animal conservation. It is open Monday to Friday, and is open to all for reference purposes, but only Fellows of the ZSL can borrow books. We got to wander around the Library and explore for ourselves. Naturally I went straight to the penguin section:

My favourite part of the visit was getting the chance to look at some of the archives and rare books that the librarians had very kindly got out for us. They included an early "Daily Occurrences" ledger, the very first Council Minutes (with the signature of Sir Stamford Raffles), the animal record card for Winnie the bear (the original Winnie-the-Pooh), newspaper clippings concerning an escapee eagle, and a medieval tome containing pictures of all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures (some real, some imagined).

Daily Occurrences 1865

Council Minutes

Animal record card for Winnie the bear

Goldie the golden eagle

Ulyssis Aldrovandi Monstrorum historia

I really enjoyed the visit, which was fascinating.

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