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Appointing a curator of spiders


Theft of rare books from our library
Ernst Mayr Scientist
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The most important thing that happened in the library… that, after some very dilettante librarians, we finally got some good professionals and they're running the library very well. During the preceding period something very unhappy occurred. The… all the rare books, the best rare books and big works with plates and all that were locked up in one room and, apparently, that's the only way we can explain it, somebody bribed the night watchman to let him get in there and take these things out and suddenly it was discovered that a great part of that rare book collection was gone. And has never been found again, even though internationally all libraries have been notified and now they have some very elaborate… a very elaborate system of protection and it will never happen again.

The late German-American biologist Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) was a leading light in the field of evolutionary biology, gaining a PhD at the age of 21. He was also a tropical explorer and ornithologist who undertook an expedition to New Guinea and collected several thousand bird skins. In 1931 he accepted a curatorial position at the American Museum of Natural History. During his time at the museum, aged 37, he published his seminal work 'Systematics and Origin of the Species' which integrated the theories of Darwin and Mendel and is considered one of his greatest works.

Listeners: Walter J. Bock

Walter J. Bock is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Columbia University. He received his B.Sc. from Cornell and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. His research lies in the areas of organismal and evolutionary biology, with a special emphasis on functional and evolutionary morphology of the skeleto-muscular system, specifically the feeding apparatus of birds.

Tags: library, librarian, books

Duration: 1 minute, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008