The Library is a catalyst for discovery, learning, collaboration, and scholarly research. As the landscape of academic scholarship shifts, the evolving needs of Library users remain at the heart of our transformation. Over the past five years we have aligned our priorities with current and future trends.




The world has gone digital. Information is available at our fingertips and expected on demand.

This digital shift has the potential to open library collections up to the world and the Library’s digital agenda is doing just that.

Over the past five years, the Library has invested in digital projects to support the needs of UBC and the community, creating virtual gateways to explore the University’s research collections. Digitized materials are integrated into faculty curriculum, aligning with the shift toward online learning.

“The chief benefit for students is accessibility,” says Asian Studies Professor Joshua Mostow, whose collection of Japanese texts from more than 20 years of research was digitized by the Library’s Digitization Centre. Dr. Mostow is piloting the digital material with his UBC graduate students.

“Because of digitization, students can access the book in a way that is better than it actually being in their hands because it’s magnified. And they have it conveniently at hand.” - Dr. Mostow, UBC Asian Studies

Partnering on digitization projects also creates community connections and introduces the library to new audiences. Our digitized editions of Discorder give a 30-year snapshot of Vancouver’s indie and cultural music scene. “The database of artists that have been covered by Discorder is huge and many acts were getting some of their first press before they became famous,” says Vancouver musician ‘Apostrophic.’

Journalists, genealogists and historians have tapped into the Library’s BC Historical Newspapers digital archives to explore the life and times of BC residents from the late 1890s to the 2000s, captured in more than 100 community papers. The newspapers are a valuable resource for heritage groups, including the Heritage Vancouver Society who noted that they used “the Daily Building Record from 1912 to 1920 to locate thousands of missing detailed descriptions in the historic building permits, which we’re now going through and adding into our online publicly available database. It is the only publication and source which captured this info on a daily basis, as this info no longer exists within the city.”

Digitization programs like the BC History Digitization Program are being funded through the Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, where grants are offered to community groups to allow for the digitization and preservation of unique histories, creating a legacy of print, visual or audio stories that would otherwise be lost.

With the demand for digital collections on the rise, we are launching an Open Collections ‘portal’ to create a better experience for researchers and enhance discoverability of the University’s treasured collections.


The Library works with academic and community partners to deliver programs and services to BC communities and residents.

A strong connection to the interests of the province puts the Library in an important position to contribute to areas that are most important to British Columbia.

Students and organizations benefit from “learning in the field” with community-based experiential learning. This partnership between the Irving K Barber Learning Centre and Centre for Community Engaged Learning gives students the opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge to helping community partners across the province. Fieldwork last year included students working in Bella Coola, Nanaimo and Tofino in the areas of sustainable forestry practices, business marketing and agricultural research.

Developing community skills in preserving Aboriginal histories is an important academic library service with a lasting impact. The Indigitization program offers equipment, funding, a resource toolkit and training program to help communities digitize and preserve their histories – especially those housed on at-risk audio cassettes. This collaborative partnership aims to increase community access to histories and improve language curriculum development. Project partners include First Nations and Aboriginal organizations, UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, and the First Nations Technology Council. 

Responding to new ways of accessing the Library has also prompted new partnerships that better serve our communities. The Okanagan’s Innovation Library is the result of informal community consultation where local residents expressed their desire to gain access to the Library, but with the convenience of a downtown location. The resulting Innovation branch, embedded into the Kelowna Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library, will be a beacon for public online research, “leveraging the resources at both institutions for the benefit of our community,” noted Stephanie Hall, CEO of the Okanagan Regional Library.

Partnering with other academic institutions has also resulted in collective purchasing power. BC residents have free perpetual access to the Gale Digital Archive Collections as a direct result of an agreement with the libraries at UBC, the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University. “This is a wealth of material for residents, whether it’s the university scholar or the local historian,” says Franck Menchaca, Senior Vice-President for Cengage Learning, parent company of Gale.

“We hope this material will lead to new research discoveries and life-long learning.” - Frank Menchaca, Cengage Learning



Academic libraries have a key role to play in the changing research landscape.

The Library is critical to the research endeavour – our expertise connects faculty and students with local and global information resources and enables new forms of knowledge creation, dissemination and exchange.

“The whole world of research is becoming more complex...” - Dr Martin Kirk, UBC's Office of Research Services

The Library has been working with campus partners to help researchers with their data management - the Library’s Research Data Management website pinpoints data needs at every stage of research and answers questions about why data management is crucial. This work also aligns with the university’s open access guidelines and supports the Canadian government’s recent Tri-Agency Open Access Policy.

As an early adopter of open access, we have implemented research award programs that highlight dissemination of knowledge. The Open Scholar Award is a lottery-based award provided twice a year to encourage open dissemination of non-thesis graduate student work. The Innovation Dissemination of Research Award focuses on new and innovative ways of communicating and disseminating knowledge, and is open to UBC faculty, staff and students.

The Library is leading a digital preservation pilot for Western Canada, in collaboration with library colleagues at the University of Alberta and Simon Fraser University, and Artefactual Systems, a Metro Vancouver software company. This project will build a research data management infrastructure, with the hopes that this work will lead to a Canadian digital preservation network.

The Library is also a partner in the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), working alongside Simon Fraser University, the Ontario Council for University Libraries (OCUL), the California Digital Library and Stanford University. PKP is an open source publishing platform in academic publishing and this partnership will help the University address the evolution of scholarly publishing and the opportunity to support open access in the digital future.

At the Okanagan campus, librarians are taking an active role in understanding, accessing, supporting, and evaluating a variety of research metrics. Librarian knowledge and expertise has contributed to training and user support for metrics, analysis and interpretation of research metrics, and the dissemination of research.



Libraries are the original sharing economy and continue to transform as new demands showcase its breadth of expertise and authority.

Library staff are no longer solely information specialists, but publishing experts and community collaborators.

Their expertise in a range of fields and contexts extends well beyond the Library, as a result of the digital landscape, campus needs and emerging areas of growth.

The instructional role of the Library is undergoing a transformation. The immediate focus is to develop more content through online channels and identify ways for meaningful student and faculty engagement, particularly in digital literacy, copyright and data management. Initiatives such as the Library Online Course Reserve, Open Badges and the use of online platforms – such as Wimba, Blackboard and edX – enable librarians to deliver on-demand, customized instruction. An early adopter of the flexible learning environment, the Library is a active campus partner, collaborating on local open online classrooms (LOOC) and massive open online courses (MOOC).

Library staff at both the UBC Okanagan and Vancouver campuses support graduate, post-doctoral and faculty research alongside peer-to-peer learning in undergraduate tutoring and coaching services. These academic support programs and services, such as the Centre for Scholarly Communications, Writing and Research Centre, Chapman Learning Commons and Research Commons, have become a core part of the student learning experience.

The Library’s place in the recordkeeping of University documents – from institutional publications to personnel and finance files – has naturally expanded across campus. With the robust infrastructure developed by the Library for both electronic and physical formats, “the University is creating a more secure and sustainable way of managing records and introducing greater efficiencies,” notes Ron Holton, Chief Risk Officer for UBC.

"From a risk management perspective, it makes sense to have the University maintain control and management of its records.” - Ron Holton, UBC Chief Risk Officer

Similarly, the University sought the Library’s expertise when developing a coordinated, cross-campus effort to raise awareness about copyright compliance. A Copyright Office was established within the Library in 2011 and has since become a model for other Canadian post-secondary institutions.



Ingrid Parent, University Librarian, explores the history and future of the Library.

When I arrived at UBC Library as the University Librarian in July 2009, I knew that I was joining an important institution that served one of the largest user bases in the country. I also knew that the Library had the potential to become an exceptional institution serving a world-class university. That has guided my vision for the Library, and inspired me to put attention on many fronts to make the Library relevant and visible and a leader in the 21st century research and information ecosystem.

There have been a great number of milestones achieved with the Library’s five year Strategic Plan (2010 – 2015), including the investment in digital programs and services, the building of great collections and facilities, the creation of a copyright office, the development of a University-wide records management service, and leading data research management best practices for researchers. University senior administrators recognize the value of the Library in supporting the university's mission of teaching, learning and research. The Library has helped strengthen UBC’s brand and visibility through programs delivered provincially, nationally and internationally to community audiences that include alumni, educators, non-profit organizations and other academic partners.

As we enter our centennial year, the Library is dynamic and transformative, and leading and advocating into the future. Libraries have a recognized place at the academic table in our roles as information providers, teaching and learning facilitators, and supporters of research priorities.

Great institutions recognize opportunities and they break paradigms. As leaders, libraries challenge the status quo and encourage innovation, creativity and partnerships. In doing so, we steward the past, drive change and shape our own future. I invite you to engage with us as we chronicle our successes moving forward.


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