From our guest blogger, Elizabeth
Did you know that Charles Darwin was mad on worms? He brought them into the house and had his wife play the piano to them to see if they responded to music, he shouted at them, smoked at them and threatened them with a poker, he shone red and blue light at them and offered them different coloured cabbages, he watched them navigate burrows and observed their sexual behaviour. His book on worms was a massive success.
Putting up a display is a great way for us librarians to delve into a subject that might hitherto have been unfamiliar to us. That was certainly the case with me and our latest display, timed to coincide with Darwin Day on 12th February, Darwin’s birthday. We decided to mark the occasion this year with a display of library materials on Darwin’s life and work, evolution, and the creationism controversy in schools. A search of the library catalogue brought plenty of books and other materials to light. This was also an opportunity to order in some new stock to update our collection. Several lavishly illustrated children’s books were published in 2009, the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species and these now take pride of place in the curriculum resources section of our display. Websites also yielded lots of interesting facts, such as the one at the start of this blog, for the ‘did you know’ panel. My favourite site is the one put together by students from Christ’s College, Cambridge, where Darwin studied. It’s beautifully illustrated and written in an accessible style for adults and children alike.
Displays are all about publicity and wherever possible we try to highlight aspects of the library collections that might sometimes get overlooked. For instance, wallcharts such as the recently acquired one on Darwin and evolution (one copy on display and one available for loan) can be borrowed for outside classroom use, and we have teaching videos and off-air video recordings on many subjects.
I learned a lot putting this display together, and we hope that you’ll take a look, too. Look out for our next library display – on Shakespeare – in April.