Members at our 2007 BBQ

Naturalists' Society

Cymdeithas Naturiaethwyr



The Cardiff Naturalists' Society Library

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Having been founded in close association with the Cardiff Free Library and then having campaigned for the siting of the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, it is no surprise that the Society continued to have a keen interest in maintaining a library to enhance the work of the Society and the museum.

The Cardiff Naturalists' Society Library, housed in Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, was built up from the later nineteenth century by two means. First, by exchanging its publications with national and international sister organizations, and second, through the generosity of major scientific organisations, notably the Natural History Museum in London and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, USA.

The publications received provided additional research material for the museum’s staff over and above the books and journals that form part of the museum library, and are of particular benefit to the natural history and, to some extent, the archaeology staff.

Members of the museum library staff have contributed to the society in a number of ways including as recorded on the Museum's own website

Elizabeth Harriet Edwards, known to family and friends as Hetty, was Librarian at the National Museum of Wales from 1931 until her retirement in 1970. She is our longest serving Librarian, racking up a whopping 39 years’ service. The National Museum’s Annual Report for 1969/70 records the Museum Council thanking her for her work;

‘Miss E H Edwards has served as Librarian for 39 years. During this period the Library has become one of the most important special libraries in Wales, now containing more than 80,000 books. She has served as Chairman of the Welsh Branch of the Library Association, and is President-elect of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society.’

From our records we can tell that Hettie was our Librarian for 14 years and our longest serving was H. M. Hallett who was the Society Librarian from 1911 - 1948!

The transfer of the Library to the National Museum was documented by Hettie in in Vol. XCV, 1968-70 of the Transactions

Past presidents of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society in the persons of Mr. Clement Waldron, Col. Alfred William Sheen and Mr. Archibald H. Lee have traced our small beginnings as a Society and the part it has played in the founding of the National Museum of Wales. Colonel Sheen recorded the existence in 1852 of a Museum connected with the Cardiff Athenaeum and Mechanics' Institute,which had premises in High Street. Mr.Waldron recorded the fact that in 1856 there was a museum in connection with the Cardiff Literary and Philosophical Society, with premises in Crockherbtown. It will be observed that both museums mentioned belonged to local societies. The first secretary of the National Museum of Wales, Mr. Lee, in the presidential address delivered to the Society on 29 October 1931, made it abundantly clear that when the Society was brought into being, it undertook to take a real and practical interest in the development of the Cardiff Museum, later to become the National Museum of Wales. To this day the Cardiff Naturalists' Society has direct representation on the Court of Governors, so that the Society has some say in all matters connected with the National Museum of Wales.

In the Society's archives mention of its library is sparse. In Reports issued by the Cardiff Public Museum and Art Gallery Committee subsequent to the County Borough of Cardiff's adoption of the Museum and Gymnasiums Act of 1891, occasional mention is made of books added to the 'Museum Library'.

At a meeting of the Society's Council held 18 May 1925, it was resolved that the Society's Library, already housed in the National Museum of Wales, should be deposited in the Museum Library subject to the Council of the Museum agreeing to the following conditions:

1. To the ownership of the Society's Library remaining with the Society.

2. To all accessions to the Society's Library being entered in the Society's register.

3. That members of the Society may enjoy the same privileges as at present in the matter of the volumes and periodicals belonging to the Society.

4. That this proposal does not refer to the 'Transactions', off-prints, and other publications of the Society.

It was reported in the Council Meeting held 15 September 1925 that the Museum agreed to the conditions set out in the minutes of the Council regarding the arrangement of the Society's Library in the National Museum Library. Two years later the Council resolved that the Society's Library should be placed in the Museum Library as a permanent deposit subject to the Museum Council agreeing to the following conditions:

1. That members of the Society may enjoy the same privileges as at present in the matter of the volumes and periodicals now belonging to the Society and which may be received in the future in exchange for the publications of the Society.

2. That this proposal does not refer to the 'Transactions', off-prints and other publications of the Society

3. The Museum will bear the cost of all binding, which shall be undertaken as, and when, in the opinion of the Museum Council, finances permit. There shall be no differentiation in this respect, between the Museum Library and the Society's Library.

The suggestions in this resolution had the approval of the Museum Council. Three of these suggestions do not apply today. Records of additions to the library are no longer recorded in the Society's Register but on catalogue cards. The Transactions, off-prints and other publications of the Society are housed in the Museum, and it has been the policy of the Museum Library for many years, to include volumes of periodicals from the C.N.S. Library with its own binding requirements.

In the address given by Colonel Sheen at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1927 it was reported that the Society possessed a large and valuable library of 4,000 volumes safely housed in the National Museum of Wales. By today the Society has acquired a library of about 10,000 volumes, chiefly because the Society has for many years conducted an almost world-wide exchange of publications with nearly one hundred and fifty kindred societies and institutions. There are two hundred and thirty-three sets of periodicals, eighty-one of which are current, in the C.N.S. Library. Some sets are of sufficient interest and value to merit inclusion in the World List of Scientific Periodicals and the British Union Catalogue of Periodicals and thus become available for reference to the serious student, wherever he or she may reside, through the usual inter-library loan channels.

Members of the Society are entitled to the full use of the library should they desire to do so. The same privileges are extended to the members of the Museum staff, research workers and students interested in the subjects covered by the collection. Periodicals received in exchange for the Transactions form the bulk of the collection.

The collection consists of over 10,000 books and journals. However, since the society's transactions ceased to be published in 1986 a number of the exchanges have ceased, but certain key journals continue to be maintained by the museum’s library through subscriptions.

Copies of the Societies own transactions are housed in the library. From 1867 to 1986 it published annual Reports and Transactions. These publications contain studies of the botany, zoology, geology, archaeology, history and meteorology of southeast Wales, including historical weather records.

In recent years the Society made an agreement with the National Library of Wales and issues 1-100 are available on-line See Welsh Journals Online Pages

More recently it has published a newsletter. Issues from 53 (March 2002) are on-line here at the society's website.

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These pages are part of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society 150th Anniversary celebrations and are about our history and are celebrating the people who developed our Society and helped build the city and the cultural heritage of Cardiff. You can read more about that using the links above

If you want to read about the ways we study the wildlife and environment of the Cardiff area and its surroundings, and about the talks we have about the wildlife of the world, and find the programme of talks, walks and other events that we do then please take a look at our main website, our blog and our facebook and twitter feeds for up to date news