Artefact of the month - August 2008
The Library contains a wide range of material relating to zoos including books, magazines, reports and guides.
The Library collects books published on any aspect relating to zoos including: individual zoos, history of zoos, zoo design etc. We are, of course, especially interested in anything which pertains to ZSL and its two zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
Books by Fellows are added to the collection where possible so the Library will also reflect the interests of the members of the Society. Then there are the many titles by people who have worked for the Society ranging from Wild animals in captivity by A.D. Bartlett published in 1899 to Zoo tails by Oliver Graham-Jones published in 2001.
This image is taken from Queer beasts at the zoo by Gladys Davidson who was a Fellow of the Society, and illustrated by Dorothy Burroughes who is more famous for designing tube posters in the 1920s.
As well as books, all zoo specific conference proceedings and husbandry guidelines are obtained whenever possible. The information they contain is so relevant that it is important that we purchase copies when we find the details of publication.
Annual reports and guidebooks form another important part of our collection. Annual reports provide a contemporary snapshot of an organization and over time, if kept, provide historical information regarding its evolution and development. Many zoos, especially in Europe, still produce guidebooks which are updated on an irregular basis. These are valuable for their illustrations and maps which serve both as an introduction for a potential visit and a visual record of changes over time for those interested in the history and design of zoos. The Library has examples of early guidebooks for several European zoos dating from the 1850s and 1860s.
Many newsletters and magazines have been added to the journals collection and cover zoos and aquaria from around the world. They range from member magazines which detail what’s happening at a particular zoo to professional newsletters which are written for those working in zoos.
These collections provide a valuable resource for researchers looking at evolution of zoological gardens and allow comparison across zoos and countries. It also means that ZSL has a unique collection of this material and a large part of its value is the fact that it is located in one place.