"Darwin By Post" began as the brain-child of Lloyd staff member, Heather Snyder. A creative writer at heart, Heather imagined the Lloyd stacks coming to life after hours, with the authors of our many books stepping off the shelves, as it were, and spending the twilight hours conversing with one another. This one fanciful thought led to another, given that we've spent a lot of time thinking about Charles Darwin this year, and that thought was, "What if Darwin had a Facebook or other social networking page?" As it turns out, he really does have a page on Facebook with "Friends" numbering in the tens of thousands. But, these are NOT Darwin's contemporaries - they are modern people with something to say on or about Darwin and his theories of evolution and natural selection. These people aren't really the folks that Darwin was friends with or with whom he routinely corresponded. So, the question then became, what did the real Darwin's social network look like? Who was in it? What did they talk about?

And, then Heather Snyder talked to Anna Heran, Lloyd's IT Specialist, and asked these questions, which resulted in the big question - "Could we create, in essence, a facsimile of a social networking site for Charles Darwin and his friends?" Well, you never know until you try, so Heran said, why not? But, we couldn't use "Facebook" - that's already been taken. So, what would we use? That question led to a brainstorming session over lunch one day with 4 of our staff members and one of our Board members, Nik Money, a professor at Miami University (Ohio) and a British fellow, to boot (a very helpful fact, since Darwin was British, as well). After playing around with a lot of different options, none of which seemed to quite get to the point, we hit on "Darwin by Post" because you post a message to a blog and you send a letter, which is what Darwin was doing, by post! The proverbial lightbulb turned on and Heran started playing around with a design for the site, and she and Heather both started collecting and sifting information, of which there is a lot.

The goal of this exhibit is to show what resources we have at the Lloyd Library that are related to Darwin - it's materials by him, of course. It is also, though, materials by his friends and correspondents. He and Alfred Russel Wallace, for instance, weren't enemies. They were friends who corresponded regularly and talked about their similar theories of evolution and change over time among species. They agreed to present their similar findings jointly to the Linnean Society. The list of Darwin's correspondents, by the way, seems endless. So, this exhibit will focus, at least initially, on some of the bigger names, and over the course of time will fan out, like a "web" to include many more individuals who are represented in the Lloyd's voluminous collection. That said, Heather Snyder and Anna Heran are proud to present to you, "Darwin by Post"