Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by the Vancouver School of Theology. The H.R. MacMillan Library at the Vancouver School of Theology recently acquired four sections of the Church Missionary Archives microfilm, covering Anglican Missionary activities throughout British Columbia, North West Canada and the West Indies. On July 11, 2012, VST launched this new resource and held a celebration featuring presentations by members of the Indigenous community, VST faculty and UBC library staff on the background of this resource and its significance to Church and First Contact histories.   Speakers for this event include: Darrell Bailie, Pat Dutcher-Walls, Raymond Jones, Gene Joseph, Mark MacDonald, and Amelia McComber.

From August 1-31, 2012 please visit UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections exhibition entitled Secret Wisdom of the West Coast: Esoteric and Occult practice in British Columbia. Curated by Karen Meijer-Kline, a graduate of the Universiteit van Amsterdam with a Master of Arts degree in Mysticism & Western Esotericism and a current student in the Masters of Library, Archival, and Informations Studies program at UBC, this exhibition will introduce you to a world many of you probably never dreamed existed here in our very own rainy city.

The historical and sociological study of esotericism and occultism is a growing field, as is shown by the emergence of academic programs, conferences and journals focussed on the subject all over the Western world. Close to home, Simon Fraser University’s department of Humanities has recently offered a course on the history of Western Esotericism. Study in this field looks at topics such as magic, alchemy, astrology, Rosicrucianism, Kabbalah, Freemasonry, Theosophy, Spiritualism, New Age, Neopaganism, and the like. These topics, and the people that studied and practiced them, have been and are very influential in history, even though in the past they have been rarely studied. Here at Rare Books and Special Collections, we realized that there are many works in our collection that are related to these topics, and yet: almost no-one knows about them. We decided to delve deeper into the history and practice of esoteric currents in British Columbia, in order to show you some of the very intriguing things that have happened, and still happen in our province!

For many years, Vancouver has been home to several prominent figures in esoteric history, and centre for many esoteric and occult groups. For example, the North Shore was home to Charles Stansfeld Jones, better known as Frater Achad, who was considered the magical child of Aleister Crowley: the most notorious magician of the 20th century. Jones and Malcolm Lowry were friends, and Lowry’s personal library held many fascinating esoteric works, many by Jones or Crowley.
On display at Rare Books and Special Collections will be works that are fundamental to esoteric thought, and esoteric works that have an interesting connection to major figures or organizations in British Columbia. Many might know that Malcolm Lowry had a long standing interest in the occult, and that Robin Skelton was a practicing witch. But did you also know that Alexander Maitland Stephens, the prominent Marxist and poet, was the head of a Theosophical lodge in downtown Vancouver? That there was a Rosicrucian temple in Vancouver? Or that there have been thriving Freemasonic lodges in British Columbia since 1860?

If you would like to see the exhibition, located in the reading room, you can do so until August 31st, from Monday to Friday 10am-4pm. The exhibition is free and open to all members of the public.

If you are unable to visit the exhibition, a pdf version of the exhibition guide is available.

Hospital building exterior

UBC Library is working with the Faculty of Medicine to explore a new service delivery model for the St. Paul’s Hospital Library and Hamber Library (at the Oak Street Site of BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre). Over the next month, a working group with representatives from the Faculty of Medicine and UBC Library will begin consultation with staff, faculty and students, featuring a survey, focus groups and in-person meetings with identified stakeholder groups including the health authorities. The recommendations from the working group are expected in early September. 

UBC faculty, student and non-Library UBC staff members who use the Biomedical Branch, Hamber and St. Paul’s hospital libraries are invited to participate in the UBC Hospital Libraries Usage Survey.

For further information, please contact Lea Starr, Working Group Chair and Associate University Librarian, Research Services at 604.822.2826 or lea.starr@ubc.ca (Melody Burton, Deputy University Librarian at 604.822.4903 or melody.burton@ubc.ca in Lea’s absence) or Amil Shah, Assistant Dean, Vancouver Fraser Medical Program at 604.875.4111 (67112) or amil.shah@ubc.ca.

Student at Library research desk

Photo credit Martin Dee

UBC Library, in collaboration with the University’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) and the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FOGS), is pleased to announce the opening of the Koerner Library Research Commons on Tuesday, September 4, 2012. 

With the support of a Teaching and Learning Enhancement (TLEF) Fund Grant, UBC Library was able to hire a team of eleven graduate students with a diverse range of disciplinary research backgrounds to help develop and deliver the services for the Research Commons.

The Research Commons, located on the second floor of Koerner Library, will provide one-on-one consultations and workshops on thesis formatting to graduate students. Weekly instructional workshops will also be provided for RefWorks, Medeley and Zotero, three popular citation management tools. Although targeted to students in the humanities and social sciences, these services are open to all graduate students.

In addition, the Research Commons will facilitate peer-led interdisciplinary research discussions for graduate students. The discussions will invite students to share their challenges and experiences, and encourage theme-based discussions on their research.

The rollout of these services is part of a three-year development plan for a broader constellation of services and spaces designed to meet the scholarly research needs of graduate students and faculty. 

For further information on the Koerner Library Research Commons, contact Interim Head, Humanities & Social Sciences Division, at trish.rosseel(at)ubc.ca, or email research-commons(at)interchange.ubc.ca.

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