Most of the collections at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) are kept in what’s known as the Vault. This climate-controlled storage space is one of Hiller Goodspeed’s favourite spots to uncover hidden treasures, as he goes about his job as a Circulation, Copying and Shelving Assistant: “Just in shelving and retrieving items, I often stumble upon books, maps and photographs that I didn’t know that we had. I discover new things in the Vault all the time.”

Hiller came to UBC as a student in the Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) program at UBC iSchool, before taking on a position as a shelving assistant at RBSC in 2015. After graduating the following year, he was hired into his current role.

“I work for the most part at the circulation desk at Rare Books, and so we get students, scholars, and researchers from all over the world. I have had great conversations with people who are knowledgeable and passionate about their subject of study,” he says. “People come here and do an informal residency, where they will go through a whole collection. They will tell you bits and pieces of what they’re doing each day, as they’re packing up. It’s fascinating.”

His journey to UBC started when he bought a one-way ticket to escape the heat and humidity of Florida, and made a new home in the Pacific Northwest. He lived in Portland, Oregon, working as a designer and illustrator for three years before enrolling at UBC, moving further north. But working at UBC Library hasn’t meant he’s stopped designing—in fact, the Library has become a source of inspiration.

“I do a lot of freelance illustration work, for all kinds of people,” he says. “I think a lot of my ideas for drawings and art in general come from conversations I overhear or have myself, things I observe and, like I said, going through the Vault. Inspiration comes from everywhere and definitely working at the library has an influence on me.”

Recently, Hiller teamed up with Google Hardware Store to design elements of a pop up shop in based in Chicago and New York. “What started out as one email turned into a three-month intensive project. It was a great project to work on, and it’s always a nice complement to library life because it’s quiet here—very orderly and structured—and then at home, my desk is covered with pencils and pencil shavings and I’m drinking coffee and it’s kind of like a disorderly artist studio. The two pair very well together.”

Some of Hiller’s artwork is also currently on display in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre as part of new exhibition, curated by the Music Art and Architecture Library & Rare Books and Special Collections to showcase a selection of their 2018 acquisitions.

Learn more about the exhibition and about RBSC on our website.

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