A new exhibit at the Library explores the written word and the way we read.

The Papal Parchments and Blackletter Books, 1245 AD to UBC: How the Middle Ages Shaped the Way we Read exhibit uses medieval manuscripts in the Library’s collections – including a 13th century Papal Bull the Library acquired in 2014 – to follow the development of Western writing. 

image of the document

Professor Richard Pollard from UBC’s Department of History and Master’s student Robert Makinson curated the exhibit, which includes items from 1245-1525. These items “represent the transition from handwritten manuscripts to mass-produced printed books.” In addition to these rarely seen items, the exhibit prominently features a one-of-a-kind papal bull issued by Pope Innocent IV in 1245.  

Medieval manuscripts are an essential part of today’s print culture; many of the letter-forms that we use today were invented by medieval scribes. Many items in the collection were made during the latter half of the fifteenth century, around the time that Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, portraying a critical period in the development of Western writing and reading. 

The exhibit is open to the public in UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC), Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from May 1 until May 29. RBSC is located on the first floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

Several library websites and services will be unavailable this evening for approximately one hour, due to a unexpected service outage.

One of the library’s application servers needs to be shut down; this impacts several Library web services including the Library catalogue and LOCR (Library Online Course Reserves). 

From 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., some functionality in the Library catalogue will be missing or unavailable (license information and resolver links). The Library’s Hours portal, Use the Library and Get Research Help portals, and the websites listed below are also impacted.

We apologize for the disruption of service and thank you for your patience. 


Sites include:

  • parsnip.library.ubc.ca
  • resolve.library.ubc.ca
  • libarchi.library.ubc.ca
  • newbooks.library.ubc.ca
  • ltk.library.ubc.ca
  • directory.library.ubc.ca
  • staffdirectory.library.ubc.ca
  • clc.library.ubc.ca
  • www.ikebarberlearningcentre.ubc.ca
  • webcasts.ikebarberlearningcentre.ubc.ca
  • archive.ikebarberlearningcentre.ubc.ca
  • assignmentcalculator.library.ubc.ca
  • journal-abbreviations.library.ubc.ca
  • law-journal-abbreviations.library.ubc.ca
  • licenses.library.ubc.ca
  • facultypubs.library.ubc.ca
  • wcilcos.cbm.library.ubc.ca
  • wcilcos-ch.cbm.library.ubc.ca
  • refworks.library.ubc.ca
  • elink.library.ubc.ca
  • search.library.ubc.ca
  • books.greatreads.library.ubc.ca
  • books.hawthorn.library.ubc.ca
  • resources.library.ubc.ca
  • idbox.library.ubc.ca
  • dbfinder.library.ubc.ca
  • terms.api.library.ubc.ca
  • idbox.api.library.ubc.ca


The BC Research Libraries Group is proud to present

Dr. Frances Wood

who will be speaking about

From Buddhism to Nestorian Christianity: The Importance of the Silk Roads in the Movement of Ideas and Religions across Central Asia


May 26, 2015, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Asian Centre Auditorium, 1871 West Mall, University of British Columbia

This special lecture is presented in association with
UBC Library’s centennial celebrations.

RSVP for this free event by May 22 to library.development@ubc.ca

Watch  via webcast

In celebration of UBC Library’s centennial, author and former British Library curator of Chinese collections Dr. Frances Wood, will speak on the movement of ideas and icons across Central Asia facilitated by the Silk Road trade routes.

The rich variety of religions was evidenced by the great cache of manuscripts discovered in Dunhuang in 1900. Since the first removal of manuscripts to London by Aurel Stein in 1907 and to Paris by Paul Pelliot in the following year, scholars have been astounded by the richness of this manuscript hoard. In addition to showing the significance of Buddhism in the daily life of Tang China, these treasures also reveal the importance of religion to the Sogdian traders who dominated the northern Silk Road and underline the cosmopolitan nature of Tang China.

Dr. Frances Wood’s visit is made possible through the generous support of Willem and Rosalie Stronck. This event is presented in partnership with  the UBC Library (Asian Library and Irving K. Barber Learning Centre), the Department of Asian Studies, Institute of Asian Research, Canadian Society for Asian Arts and explorAsian: Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Frances Wood studied art at Liverpool Art School and then Chinese at the University of Cambridge. She spent a year at the Beijing Languages Institute and Peking University, before completing her PhD work on traditional domestic architecture in the Beijing area. She worked in the School of Oriental and African Studies Library at the University of London before moving to the British Library in the early 1980s. She retired in 2013 after more than 30 years there as curator of the Chinese collections. Dr. Wood is well published on Chinese culture and history; her books include Did Marco Polo Go To China? (1995),The Blue Guide to China (2002), The Silk Road (2003), The Forbidden City (2005) andPicnics Prohibited: Diplomacy in a chaotic China during the First World War (2014).

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