Important Scientific Documents Reportedly Stolen from Library

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. misplace / mɪsˈpleɪs / (v) – to put something in the wrong place and lose it temporarily

    Kelly might have misplaced her glasses; they’re not in her bag.

  2. exhaustive / ɪgˈzɔs tɪv / (adj) – complete or thorough

    It took the researchers ten years to conduct the exhaustive study.

  3. yield / yild / (v) – to produce or provide something

    The study yielded surprising results.

  4. circumnavigate / ˌsɜr kəmˈnæv ɪˌgeɪt / (v) – to go all the way around something

    The book is about two travelers who decide to circumnavigate the world in 80 days or less.

  5. enlighten / ɛnˈlaɪt n / (v) – to make someone aware or knowledgeable about something

    My grandmother asked me to enlighten her about recent news.


Read the text below.

Two notebooks written by Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, have reportedly been stolen from the Cambridge University Library.

The notebooks were removed from storage in 2000 so they could be photographed. After a routine check in 2001, the notebooks were discovered to be missing. For a long time, library staff assumed that the items were simply misplaced in the vast library, which houses more than 10 million books along with various Darwin records.

However, after a recent exhaustive search for the notebooks that yielded no results, the library staff now think that the items were likely stolen.

The notebooks contain Darwin’s observations while he circumnavigated the world for five years. The voyage helped enlighten Darwin and develop his views on evolution, natural selection, and the classification of species.

Darwin drew the iconic “Tree of Life” sketch in one of the notebooks. The illustration, which featured interconnected lines resembling a tree, showcases Darwin’s ideas about the evolution of different species.

According to the library, the notebooks are worth millions of dollars.

The missing notebooks have been reported to authorities and recorded as missing artifacts on the Art Loss Register, a large database of stolen or missing art. Cambridge University plans to continue its hunt and do a complete search of the library, which is estimated to take up to five years.

Jessica Gardner, the university librarian and director, appealed to the public to help look for the notebooks. She encouraged anyone who might have information about their location to contact the university.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think it’s important for the Cambridge University Library to find Darwin’s notebooks? Why or why not?
• What do you think the Cambridge University Library should do to prevent incidents like this from happening again (e.g. tighten the library’s security, run regular inventories of important items)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What do you think would strongly discourage people from stealing a historical artifact (e.g. tight security, severe punishments)? Explain.
• Do you think most historical artifacts in your country are safe from being stolen? Why or why not?