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A wild world of books inside Wild Planet Trust’s library

Take a look inside Wild Planet Trust’s library…

Thursday 5th March is World Book Day 2020. To mark the occasion, we thought we’d take a look at an amazing but largely-overlooked resource – Wild Planet Trust’s library.

The library is upstairs in the Paignton Zoo entrance building – it’s behind those windows up to your right as you walk in past Stella the rhino. The library is open to Trust employees, research students placed with a Trust zoo plus all of our annual pass holders. It’s based on the collection of zoo founder Herbert Whitley, with some volumes donated by other people over the years, and continues to collect books and journals on zoology, natural history and zoos.

What will you find if you visit? Well, there are just over 8,000 titles on the library database. There are books in the library dating back to the early 1800s (mainly on zoology and natural history). Among the most notable are a reprint of the second edition of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’ (the reprint is dated around 1935 but the original was first published in 1859). There’s also a three-volume series entitled ‘The Life & Letters of Charles Darwin’ from 1888, edited by his son Francis Darwin.

Most of the oldest and rarest volumes are kept in the glass cabinet in the Board Room next door to the library. They include 40 volumes of the Naturalist’s Library and 13 volumes of the Birds of Australia. Bookworms will be delighted to know that we hold all 53 volumes of International Zoo Yearbook, dating back to 1959, plus 43 volumes of the New Naturalist series of books, going back as far as 1948.

When it comes to journals, there are 113 separate runs held in the library or the Trust’s archive. We currently subscribe to 13 journals. The oldest run is the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society (1840-1914). These are bound and kept in the Board Room.

Other notable journal series include Avicultural Magazine (from 1895 to the current day), British Birds (from 1907 to the current day), Devon Birds (1948 to the current day), Ibis (1882-2010: bound copies until 1970) and Oryx (1950 to the current day).

This is a marvellous collection that’s evolved and expanded over the decades, just like our scientific understanding. The library is cared for by the Trust Secretary. If you’d like to use it, contact: trust.secretary@wildplanettrust.org.uk

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