“Thank you so much for your email! It is super super helpful! BCC Research and Gartner are especially great, I found a lot of awesome reports on these two databases” -MBA student, April 2020
Over the next few weeks, UBC Library is offering several webinars geared towards helping Faculty navigate and implement Open Educational Resources (OER). Are you planning a project engaging in open practices? Are you interested in learning about workflows and processes to make your open education, open data, or open science project a success? If this […]

The UBC Library Research Commons has launched Geodisy, an open-source tool that allows users to search online for Canadian research data through map-based discovery. After UBC Library was named the successful recipient for the Research Data Management (RDM) funding call from CANARIE in November 2018, the team at the Research Commons worked in collaboration with partners at UBC Advanced Research Computing (ARC), McMaster University, University of Toronto, Simon Fraser University, Scholars Portal, University of Saskatchewan, and Portage Network to create a more robust version of their originally proposed federated geospatial data discovery tool.

The resulting software is an innovative solution to a unique problem faced by researchers across disciplines. “There is an increasing demand for geographic components in research, but most repositories allow for only text-based searching. We realized that discovery could be improved by providing a map-based search alternative,” says Mark Goodwin, Geospatial Metadata Coordinator at the Research Commons and core member of the Geodisy team.

“Visualizing data is being recognized as a powerful form of discovery. While map-based search portals are becoming common, most are focused on a particular domain or subject area. Geodisy is intended to be useful to a wide variety of users in different subject areas, including climate change, public health, community development, conservation, or any other research area that is tied to geographic location,” says Eugene Barsky, Principal Investigator for Geodisy and Head of the Research Commons.

Answering more complex research questions in a fraction of the time

As a current doctoral student in the UBC Faculty of Forestry, Ira Sutherland has already found Geodisy helpful in his work, which uses GIS and historical analysis to investigate critical sustainability questions. His research focuses on how the historical management of environments in British Columbia have contributed to problems seen today, like wildfires, collapsing salmon stocks and the depletion of First Nations cultural resources. “Compiling large amounts of historical spatial data, as I do, would not be possible without tools like Geodisy and open data initiatives,” says Sutherland. “With increased data availability, researchers like me will be able to answer more complex questions concerning sustainability and do it in a fraction of the time.”

Screenshot of Geodisy results page.

With Geodisy, users can simply adjust the map or draw a box directly it to bring up relevant records in an area of interest. Currently, Geodisy users have access to content from Scholars Portal Dataverse, a publicly accessible data repository platform, which houses data from dozens of Canadian institutions. Thanks to additional funding from Canada’s New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization (NDRIO), the Research Commons will be working with the team at the Federated Research Data Repository (FRDR) to expand Geodisy’s content and further integrate it with the FRDR national discovery service.

“This impressive tool is an example of one of the many ways UBC Library and academic libraries in general are playing a critical role in the development of a national digital research infrastructure ecosystem,” says Dr. Susan E. Parker, University Librarian. “Through our work with bodies like the New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization (NDRIO) and The Portage Network, the library and the expertise we offer is making a deep impact in the Canadian post-secondary research landscape.”

Get started using Geodisy by visiting geo.frdr.ca or download the software from UBC Library GitHub. You can also learn more about the benefits of Geodisy through an upcoming webinar, hosted by Portage Network. Register now for “Introduction to Geodisy an Open-source Spatial Discovery Platform” on May 5, 2020, at 10 a.m. (PDT).


The UBC Library Research Commons is a multidisciplinary hub that supports research endeavours and provides training in research-enabling skills. We embrace both new and traditional exploratory scholarship and provide services, software, and expertise. Our services include expertise in digital scholarship, including geospatial and data services; welcoming space for projects and presentations; digital Scholarship Lab with powerful computers, for research, experimentation, collaboration, and work with big data; and consultations and workshops for UBC researchers.

This project is part of UBC Library’s strategic direction to advance research, learning and scholarship.

Learn more about our Strategic Framework.

Library service updates

Due to the quickly evolving situation with COVID-19, UBC Library branches across the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses will remain closed until further notice. The library continues to provide access to electronic resources and librarian support for research, teaching and learning.

Like many of you, we are spending a lot more time on virtual meetings here at the Digitization Centre. For this post, we’ve compiled a bunch of backgrounds from Open Collections that will refresh your space and make your next video call, online lecture, or virtual party more fun.

From the Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs, we found images that bring the spectacular BC scenery to your home office.

The Lions, [1919]

Suspension Bridge, Capilano Canyon,1917

Sunset, English Bay, Vancouver, B.C., 1927

If you are looking for something artistic, make sure to check out prints from the Chung Collection and Meiji at 150.

Canadian Pacific Railway Company’s Steamship Fleets, [1910]

Mount Eisenhower, [not before 1940]

Tōkyō nishikie seizō no zu, 東京錦繪製造之図, [1877]

The following images can probably beat most million-dollar-view offices in downtown.

The U.B.C. and Vancouver, [between 1940 and 1950?]

Aerial view showing Brockton Point & city, Vancouver, B.C., [not before 1937]

[View of downtown Vancouver B. C.], 1957

Is your room messy? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out the following images of interiors from hotels and a Canadian Pacific steamship.

Interior of Grouse Mountain Chalet, [between 1920 and 1930?]

Palm Garden, The Empress, Victoria, B.C., [between 1908 and 1910?]

Cabin dining saloon, [Canadian Pacific S.S. Melita], [1918?]

And finally, you can host your meeting here from UBC.

Main Library concourse, 1929

Cows grazing in front of Library, May 31, 1937

This is a composite photograph created from two separate images.

View of Main Library from Koerner Library, 2002

Images of Hanne taken by her good friend, the renowned portrait photographer Trude Fleischmann. Credit: UBC Library Communications

Many thanks to guest blogger James Goldie for contributing the below post! James has just completed his course work as a graduate student at UBC’s School of Information and has been working as a student archivist with Rare Books and Special Collections.

At the time of her death, Hanne Wassermann Walker (1893-1986) was known by just a handful of people in Vancouver, most of whom were women who either took her private exercise classes or whose mothers did. She had no local heirs, requested no funeral service, and had it not been for a quick-thinking individual hired to dispose of her belongings, one of RBSC’s most interesting and powerful acquisitions might have been lost to history.

Found in Hanne’s personal archives is more than the life of one amazing woman — it reveals her connections to several.

Daughter of a Jewish city planner in Vienna, Hanne had an average upper-middle class childhood in Austria at the turn of the century. After high school, she studied at the Graphic Teaching and Research Institute’s School of Photography and Reproduction. Although Hanne would remain an avid amateur photographer her entire life, she discovered her real passion was health and fitness.

A card advertising gymnastic and swimming lessons, accompanied by a photo of Hanne signed by Trude Fleischmann. Credit: Bjarne Tokerud

Hanne became a pioneer in the field of women’s physical fitness, developing a range of workouts, stretches, and exercise methods, many of which she chronicled in magazine articles published across Europe. Her fonds contains hundreds of photographs depicting “The Hanne Wassermann Method” — a kind of free movement form of exercise — including more than 200 originals taken by her good friend Trude Fleischmann.

“Photographer of the Famous”

It is likely Hanne met Trude while studying photography (both women graduated from the same institute around the same time). In 1920, at just 25 years old, Trude founded her own studio and quickly became renowned for her portraits of Austria’s artistic and cultural elites.

Trude was as fiercely independent as she was talented. She never married, instead having relationships with women, one of whom helped her to emigrate to the United States after the Auschluss in 1938. In New York, she continued her career as a portrait photographer, although with considerably less fanfare. Her New York Times obituary in 1990 referred to her as the “Photographer of the Famous,” noting that some of her subjects included Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, and Sinclair Lewis.

However, long before taking any of those pictures, Trude was photographing Hanne. Many of the photos in RBSC’s collection feature Hanne modelling her own system of stretches and athletic poses.

Summers in Brioni

These photos were among those that circulated with Hanne’s published writing, and may have played a role in her own fame as one of Austria’s leading experts in women’s health and wellness. Just as Trude opened a photography studio, Hanne opened her own gymnasium and school in Vienna where she taught her Method. She also spent summers in the Brijuni Islands, which is where she met many of her most famous students.

Hanne demonstrates a series of exercises uses a small rubber ring. These photos may have been taken in Brioni, Italy, where Hanne spent several summers teaching fitness classes. Credit: Vancouver Sun

Located in the northern Adriatic Sea, the Brijuni Islands were purchased by a Viennese industrialist in the late 19th century and transformed into the Austrian Riviera’s premier vacation spot. Brioni (as it was known after becoming part of Italy in 1918) was “an elegant health resort, a world-renowned elite seaside destination for the rich and famous of the Empire, an exclusive meeting place for the European aristocracy, artists and financial magnates.”

In Brioni, Hanne taught fitness classes, swimming lessons, and also gave lectures. Her collection includes many photos she took, capturing life in this sunny paradise. Here she developed a roster of highly influential clients including Hedy Lamarr, Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark, members of the Rothschild family, and more. Hanne’s appointment book provides a window into the many people who availed themselves of her services during this period.

Among them was Marie Louise Wanamaker Munn.

Escape to America

Marie Louise was the granddaughter of John Wanamaker, a Philadelphia businessman whose chain of department stores made the family exceedingly wealthy. A staple subject of the New York society pages, Marie Louise’s lavish 1915 wedding made headlines — as did her 1933 divorce, citing cruelty on the part of her husband. Marie Louise was anything but cruel, as evidenced by her friendship with Hanne.

It seems likely, based on records in Hanne’s fonds, that the two met in Brioni and there developed a connection. Following Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria, Hanne, like so many others of Jewish ancestry, needed to escape continental Europe. It was Marie Louise who helped her come to the United States as a refugee. Hanne was joined shortly thereafter by her mother and her partner, George Dickson Walker.

Her aid did not stop there. Upon their arrival in the U.S., Hanne and George travelled westward by car, stopping at hotels and resorts along the way where Hanne held lectures and classes. She even developed a method to more safely carry injured bodies in the event that World War II bombings reached North American soil. However, while they were in Nevada, George was arrested in a case of mistaken identity. Hanne, in a foreign land with few social ties, immediately telegraphed Marie Louise for help. (George was released shortly thereafter.)

A new life in British Columbia

They were not long in the U.S. before George accepted a job as a pastor in B.C. The pair married, and soon he and Hanne had settled in West Vancouver, where they would live for the rest of their lives. Hanne continued to teach fitness classes and also worked as an unlicensed physiotherapist. The couple had no children together, although they did own several dogs over the years — affectionately documented in the many photos taken by Hanne.

A peek inside Hanne’s appointment book reveals some of her many high-profile clients. Credit: Vancouver Sun

Just as she had in Europe, Hanne developed connections with a number of the city’s social and cultural heavyweights, including philanthropist and Order of Canada recipient Iby Koerner (of whom there are several portraits taken by Hanne in this collection). It’s not clear whether the Koerners or her other friends and clients in Vancouver knew about her past life as a trailblazer of women’s fitness.

“I only knew her as a physiotherapist,” said Dr. Nelly Auersperg, who knew Hanne during her life. “Why she didn’t say anything, I have no idea. She didn’t talk much about her past. Maybe it hurt.”

While the Rare Books and Special Collections reading room is currently closed, we hope you’ll come and explore the Hanne Wassermann Walker fonds when we have re-opened. Please check the UBC Library homepage and the Rare Books and Special Collections homepage for future updates about reading room operations. In the meantime, you can explore the finding aid for a complete description of materials in the Hanne Wassermann Walker fonds. 


Resources for parents, teachers, caregivers, or any poetry lovers looking for fun ways to create poetry at home.

Blackout Poetry

Blackout Poetry Maker

Magnetic Poetry Word List

New York Times: Searching for Poetry in Prose (requires log-in)

Upper Canada District School Board LibGuide on Poetry

Poem in Your Pocket Day
On Thursday, April 30, 2020, celebrate the 4th annual Poem in Your Pocket Day across Canada. The day encourages people to select a poem, carry it with them, and share it with others throughout the day. Find out more at poets.ca/pocketpoem.


Ebooks available from UBC Library

How to teach poetry writing: workshops for ages 5-9
by Michaela Morgan.
“Now in a fully revised third edition, How to Teach Poetry Writing: Workshops for Ages 5–9 is a practical, activity-based resource of poetry writing workshops. Each workshop provides enjoyable activities for pupils, aimed at building enjoyment and understanding of what poetry is and how to write it”

Poetry goes to school: from Mother Goose to Shel Silverstein
by Barton, Bob; Booth, David W.
“A must-have for teachers who want to engage students in reading and writing, and fill their classrooms with poetry.”

Little You / Kîya-K’apisîsisîyân
by Van Camp, Richard

Sweetest Kulu
by Kalluk, Celina; Neonakis, Alexandria

All Day I dream about sirens
by Domenica Martinello.
“From Homer to Starbucks, a look at sirens and mermaids and feminism and consumerism. What started as a small sequence of poems about the Starbucks logo grew to monstrous proportions after the poet fell under a siren spell herself.”

The Hobo’s Crowbar
by Lawson, JonArno; Dempster, Alec
“The latest wacky and wonderful collection of children’s poetry, Governor General’s Award winner JonArno Lawson’s”

Crazy about Hockey!
by Lesynski, Loris; Rasmussen, Gerry.
Collection of poetry about the sport of hockey.

Toes in my nose and other poems
by Sheree Fitch; illustrations by Sydney Smith.


Non-ebook resources
UBC Library Poetry Booklist

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