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Checking out UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections


The Chung Collection contains more than 25,000 objects.

I recently visited a section of the University of British Columbia (UBC) called Rare Books and Special Collections to learn about how they work and who they serve. It’s a library and so much more.  Special collections libraries are different to public libraries.  They mostly serve students, scholars, researchers and academics. They usually contain books, art, ephemera and other objects covering subjects that are important to the parent institution. These objects are often scarce and valuable but most importantly they are significant from a cultural or historical perspective.

My visit to UBC, which is located in Vancouver, included a tour of the Chung Collection, which contains more than 25,000 documents, books, maps, posters, paintings, photographs, silver, glass, ceramic ware and other artifacts. It was donated by a former surgeon at the UBC hospital and it focuses on three themes – early exploration of British Columbia, immigration and settlement in the province, particularly by the Chinese community, and the Canadian Pacific Railroad company.

UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections librarian Chelsea Shriver took time to explain how the department works and what her job involves. Listen to our podcast to learn more.

Anyone can visit UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections. It can be found in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

Chelsea Shriver, Rare Books & Special Collections librarian     Pic: UBC

It took six years to restore this replica model of the Empress of Asia.

A second folio Shakespeare on display

One of the Canadian Pacific posters on display        Pic: UBC

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