9th July 2019: Meet the Team — Librarian

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Our last Meet the Team profile is on our newest staff member, Will Beharrell.


Will Beharrell

What are the key parts to your role?

I’m responsible for the smooth running of the Society’s beautiful library. I also promote our library collections among the scholarly community - and the wider public - through outreach events, publications, international networks, and social media. On the side, I act as administrator for the Linnaeus Link project, and sit on the Collections Committee.

What do you like about your job?

I’m brand new to the role, so it’s hard to answer definitively. I’ve been very impressed with how open the library is to visiting scholars, students, tour groups, and other interested parties. Being able to show off our wonderful collections to an appreciative audience is a real privilege, and I’m keen to follow the great example set by my colleagues.

How did you end up in this job?

Before coming to the Linnean Society I spent much of my career in Oxford. After studying English Literature at Merton College, I developed an interest in rare books and special collections and decided to retrain as a librarian. After a graduate traineeship at All Souls College, I qualified at UCL and worked in a variety of roles for All Souls, Merton, The Bodleian Libraries, and the English Faculty Library. I was Assistant Librarian at Magdalen College, Oxford for two years before joining the Linnean Society as Librarian in June 2019.

What is your favourite species of animal or plant?

Equus caballus
Equus ferus caballus; Charles D' Orbigny, Dictionnaire Universel D'histoire Naturelle (1843-49)
Piper nigrum
Piper nigrum (Linnaean collection)

Animal: Equus ferus caballus.

My grandfather was a jockey, and my family have worked with horses (in a thoroughly non-aristocratic capacity) for several generations.

Plant: Piper nigrum.

I’m an enthusiastic if unskilled cook, and there are few meals that can’t be improved by freshly-ground black pepper. It also has a fascinating social and economic history.


What is the most interesting item to you in the Linnean Society collections?

As I say, I’m brand-new to the Society, so I’ve only seen a fraction of the collections. Ask me again in six months, and I’ll give a different answer! For the time being, my favourite item is Sibthorpe’s Flora Graeca. This monumental, ten-volume masterpiece was prepared for publication by the James Edward Smith, and is stuffed with beautiful botanical engravings. Only twenty-five sets were published, and the Society’s own copies have been handsomely rebound, and painstakingly coloured by hand.

Helleborus officinalis
Helleborus officinalis; John Sibthorpe's Flora Graeca, 1806-37

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m a keen traveller, walker, and reader, and trained as a musician in a past life. Otherwise, I enjoy cooking, going to the cinema, and playing board and video games. I’m also attempting to improve my language skills.