Letters from the Library

"Letters from the Library" is a series of notes written by Edgardo Civallero, library coordinator, about the contents of the Charles Darwin Foundation library & archive.

These notes are inspired by what Edgardo finds among boxes, shelves and old documents: photographs, notebooks, artifacts, reports, slides, maps… All of them, even the smallest ones, are an essential part of the identity and social memory of the Charles Darwin Foundation. These notes give us a look at the history of science and society in the Galapagos Islands at the time they were written or photographed.

In the following articles, you will be able to enjoy a story built bit by bit, step by step.

The notebook was wrapped in a light blue cardboard, neatly folded for protection. There, inside that sort of box, it had been invisible for years. No one seemed to have requested it for consultation in the library's reading room, so its quietness had not been disturbed at all. It placidly slept in the corner of one of the library's wooden shelves, a corner that some friendly hand had assigned it. I guess that, because of that lack of visibility, it managed to bypass my radars.

The history of bathroom reading is a history still to be written.

I speak of "history" because I assume from that glorious moment in the past when humans invented the toilet or some similar device in which to sit down for, the need to read appeared. Simply to pass the time. I would like to add that, long before that (or perhaps in parallel), reading materials used as an entertainment during that natural physiological process had a complementary use as personal hygiene elements. Or, at least, that's what oral tradition says.

The CDF Archive has an audiovisual section that, while not extensive, is rich in content. It is a collection that includes hundreds of photographs, slides from all eras (with glass, metal, plastic and cardboard frames), negatives and negative prints, films and videos in all the formats produced by the industry —including a few rolls of the infamous cellulose nitrate—, audio cassettes, and the magnetic and optical media that are more familiar to the new generations: floppy disks, ZIP disks, CDs and DVDs.

It was a postcard; it appeared inside one of several boxes of old papers that someone decided to discard at the CDF. Therefore, they came to my hands first to check if there was something useful or valuable for the archive. There was plenty of that. Virtually everything in the boxes was interesting material, although… humidity, dirt, insects and other living things (like the pair of geckoes that came out of the boxes as soon as I opened them) seriously damaged most of the documents.

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The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif (“AISBL”), has its registered office located at Chaussée de la Hulpe 177 Bte 20 (rez) - 1170, Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103.

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