Message from the University Librarian

Susan E. Parker

It has been an eventful year at UBC Library. Our efforts to advance learning and scholarship have been particularly impactful this year as the library leads a project to build the Federated Geospatial Data Discovery for Canada. We continue to engage with communities off-campus to support initiatives like National School Library Day and Science Literacy Week and we are finding new ways for users to engage with collections by launching a free, downloadable colouring book series using art from items in our Rare Books and Special Collections, which went on to win first place in the 2019 IFLA Press Reader International Library Marketing Awards.

Our commitment to create and deliver responsive collections remains strong, acquiring new and exciting collections including the personal archive of Hanne Wassermann Walker, a significant figure of pre-WWII Viennese cultural and social life who later settled in Vancouver.

We continue to develop innovative programmed library space and services, collaborating with several groups on campus to bring an Emerging Media Lab to our users in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. It has also been an important year of reflection, consultation and redefinition. In the Fall of 2018, we embarked on the process of creating a new Strategic Framework for the library to guide our future work. The process has been a fruitful and fulfilling one with fulsome user and stakeholder consultation. We confirmed the great amount of good will that people have at UBC for the library and learned about opportunities and areas where the library can lead in key areas, like Open Access, more proactively.

The framework allows us to align more directly with user needs and respond quickly, keeping them at the forefront of our decision-making processes. We look forward to finding new and better ways to support you in your work.

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Unique skillset makes librarians vital to medical research at UBC

Advance research, learning and scholarship

In the spring of 2018, The Canadian Institute of Health Research funded twenty-two grants through the Opioid Crisis Knowledge Synthesis Operating grant. The $1.85 million dollar grant aims to address the pressing evidence needs of knowledge users within the context of the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy and help tackle the most urgent elements of the opioid crisis, including opioid-related mortality rates. UBC researchers receive six of the twenty-two grants awarded nationally. Of those, five receive some kind of librarian support, highlighting that librarian involvement makes grant applications more successful and underscoring librarian consultation as integral to the research lifecycle.



Championing science literacy

Engage with communities

As part of Science Literacy Week, the Woodward Library holds its annual Science Expo, hosting grade 7 and 8 students from nearby Norma Rose Point School alongside UBC students, faculty and families with young learners. Students engage with science-based interactive demos, Arduino coding electronic kits and biodiversity specimens.

UBC Library by the Numbers

For 2018 calendar year
† Includes orientations, tours and instructional workshops


Total physical items


Total e-books


E-journal article downloads


E-book downloads


Article downloads per student, faculty and staff member


E-book downloads per student, faculty and staff member


Instructional workshops offered


Workshop participants


Reference interactions

Rare letters written by young Japanese Canadians during World War II

Create and deliver responsive collections

Rare Books and Special Collections acquires an extraordinary collection of letters that provide unique insight into the devastating effects of the Japanese Canadian internment during World War II. The collection of 147 letters, written to donor Joan Gillis in 1942 by a group of young Japanese Canadians she met while attending Queen Elizabeth Secondary School in Surrey, speaks to the daily life and the challenges faced by these young people after being ordered out of the “Security Zone” on the B.C. coast. Filled with frequent references to acute homesickness and sadness at being removed from their homes, the letters are an important addition to the library’s robust Japanese Canadian research collection.



Bringing emerging media learning tools to a wider audience

Inspire with innovative spaces and services

The library collaborates with UBC IT, the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTLT) and the Emerging Media Lab to open a new lab in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. In its newest location, the Emerging Media Lab leverages the library’s inclusive nature and central location to attract a larger and more diverse group of users. The lab enables faculty, students and staff from all disciplines to evolve learning by creating tools and techniques using emerging media including Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality. This effort aligns with the library’s mandate to create space for interdisciplinary interactions and provide tools to explore new technologies, with the potential to transform education and research practices at UBC.

Celebrating 10 years of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre

Steward the organization

The library celebrates the 10th Anniversary of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre with two exhibitions. A Place of Learning: The Evolution of the Library and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre explores the construction and physical evolution of the 1925 Library building and its transition to the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, while 150 Years of Forestry in British Columbia takes a broad view of the forestry industry in British Columbia, an industry in which principal donor, Dr. Irving K. Barber, was a leader for much of his career. A technology-forward place of learning, the four-story building has become a focal point of education for students and researchers and an innovative fixture on campus.


Discover more inside

Get your copy of the UBC Library Senate Report to read more stories and dive deeper into our collections and usage statistics.

Download the Report

UBC Okanagan Library Highlights


The Commons building is completed and features the first 400-seat classroom on the Okanagan campus, 32 new group study rooms, the D. Ross Fitzpatrick Great Hall, the Lois & Cliff Serwa Reading Room, a new home for Okanagan Special Collections, and myriad student-centred services and spaces that transform the learning experience on campus. Other highlights include the development of a three-year Okanagan Library instructional strategy, ongoing community engagement through the Digitized Okanagan History project, Leader in Residence event, opening of the ORL@UBC location, a new partnership with Project Literacy, and significant cross-campus advances in Open Science.

Find out more in the 2018 Report to UBC Okanagan Senate.



Cover image: Katya Roxas (UBC Library Communications);
Other images: UBC Library Communications; Jason Schmitt, Producer & Director of Paywall: The Business of Scholarship; Martin Dee, UBC Communications and Marketing; University Archives; Nathan Skolski, Associate Director, Public Affairs.

Produced by UBC Library Communications and Marketing, July 2019