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University of British Columbia Library

Library Overview

Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of British Columbia Library houses significant collections of rare books, archival materials, historical maps, photographs, broadsides, and pamphlets. The principal focus of the collections is British Columbia: history, exploration, settlement, business, politics, ethnicity, literature, culture, and labor. These subjects are covered in considerable depth. Other collections cover Canadian history, Canadian literature, English literature, children's books, and the history of cartography.

Rare Books and Special Collections' holdings of cartographic archives and historical maps are especially strong in pre-1800 world/hemispheres, pre-1900 North America and Pacific Rim, fire insurance plans of BC towns and cities, and Edo-period Japan. Also acquired as parts of larger archival collections and fonds are collections of maps (both printed and manuscript), architectural drawings, and plans and blueprints.

Manuscript collections include materials documenting the economic, political, cultural, labor, literary, and artistic history of British Columbia. Prominent among these holdings are the records of the MacMillan Bloedel forestry company, the British Columbia Electric Railway, and the Malcolm Lowry collection.

The Rare Books and Special Collections reading room provides access to: the Ubyssey student newspaper, The Totem student yearbook, copies of the British Columbia directories dating from 1882 to 1994, a seminar room, and the Chung Collection exhibition space. The Web site lists and holds inventories for personal papers and private records.

The principal location for University of British Columbia Library special collections is in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, with important medical and natural history collections in the Woodward Memorial Room of the Woodward Biomedical Library and Asian language collections in the Asian Library.

University of British Columbia
Irving K. Barber Learning Center
Rare Books and Special Collections
1961 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6T 1Z1