Skip navigation
Previous Next

Library & Archives

December 21, 2011

The symposium Anchoring Biodiversity Information:From Sherborn to the 21st century and beyond, held on 28th October 2011, and brought together a wide range of people interested in history of science, bioinformatics and taxonomy to celebrate the work of Sherborn and discuss the future of the field.


Paul Cooper (Assistant Librarian) put together a display for attendees of items from the Library & Archives collections, and this online version includes a podcast of him talking about some of thise items, accompanied by a selection of images.


The full symposium is now available online!  You can listen to the talks with slides, and see the posters with an oral summary from the author, through this link:


Anchoring Biodiversity Information:
From Sherborn to the 21st century and beyond

Charles Davies Sherborn provided the bibliographic foundation for current zoological nomenclature with his magnum opus Index Animalium. In the 43 years he spent working on this extraordinary resource, he anchored our understanding of animal diversity through the published scientific record. No work has equalled it since and it is still in current, and critical, use.


Until now, Sherborn’s contribution has been recognised and relied upon by professional taxonomists worldwide but he has escaped the celebration of his accomplishment that is his due. This changed on Friday, 28 October 2011, with a symposium in his honour in the 150th year of his birth organised by the  ICZN, in collaboration with the Society for the History of Natural History at the Natural History Museum (NHM), London. The full day meeting included an international panel of experts on bibliography and biodiversity bioinformatics who linked a view of the past with an active debate on the future of the related fields.


The symposium was structured with an introduction to Sherborn as a man, scientist and bibliographer, then provided historical context for taxonomic indexing from the 19th century to today. Current tools and innovations were presented. The final sessions tackled the future of biological nomenclature, including shifting publishing modes and changing sociology of science in taxonomy. There were fifteen talks from distinguished speakers from around the world, and ten posters, including an exhibition of ‘Sherborniana’, or artefacts from Sherborn’s tenure at the NHM. The event was very well attended, with an audience of over 120 people present throughout most of the day. As the composition of the audience changed somewhat throughout the day, the number of people celebrating Sherborn was impressive.


The symposium was dedicated to Professor Frank Bisby, whose untimely death a few days earlier had shocked and saddened the biodiversity informatics community. Frank had initiated and directed Species 2000 and the Catalogue of Life, ambitious global taxonomy projects that build on the foundation laid by Sherborn’s indexes. The global and temporal reach of this event is being extended through podcasts of all the talks, posters and discussion, including slides and poster downloads, and videos of all the talks available through this site:


The event was organised and sponsored by the ICZN (Int’l Commission on Zoological Nomenclature) and the Society for the History of Natural History, with significant sponsorship support from the Linnean Society, BHL-Europe (Biodiversity Heritage Library-Europe), Pensoft Publishers (ZooKeys), The NHM – Natural History Museum, and ViBRANT – Virtual Biodiversity.


The Library & Archives reading room is closed to external visitors from Friday 23rd December 2011 - Monday 2nd January 2012 (inclusive).


We open as usual on Tuesday 3rd January 2012.


We wish you all a Happy Christmas & New Year.