Show and Tell: Selections from our Personal Archives and Libraries

How we remember, and what we hold dear, differs from person to person. All of us have personal archives we keep to preserve memories that are precious, that document our families, our histories and record important events. It could be a simple piece of ephemera we love and cannot part with (a ticket stub from our first concert, for example), or photographs of ancestors that offer clues to our origins, or anything we have set aside and saved for a myriad reasons. Similarly, our personal libraries hold volumes that have emotional value to us, not just for the words contained in it, but as a reflection of a time in our lives, we found them particularly relevant. This could be the first book of poetry that made us fall in love with verse, or the dog-eared copy of a classic novel that led us to our current passion for libraries and library work. This blog series explores selections from the personal libraries and archives of members of the Rare Books and Special Collections team, and perhaps other colleagues from UBC Library and beyond. We hope our stories will help you reflect on what is meaningful at this time in your, and in our, collective histories.

— Krisztina Laszlo, Archivist

Jacky Lai, Archives and Circulation Assistant

During my final year in high school I created a graduation scrapbook for my Japanese language class. The scrapbook documented the 5 W’s of my life back then – where, who, when, what, why. Some of the highlights include my favourite places (kitchen and karaoke), my favourite pop group, a letter to my parents, my goals, a selection of Japanese syntax homework, yearbook messages from my classmates written in Japanese, and adorable childhood photographs (if I do say so myself). It is always fun and nostalgic flipping through this scrapbook (and a good opportunity to brush up on my Japanese).

Chelsea Shriver, Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian

I would like to start by stressing that I am, by and large, a law abiding citizen. I do not typically indulge in either vandalism or property destruction. But I do happen to have about a foot and a half of wallpaper that was…liberated? preemptively salvaged? preserved for posterity at knife point?…from the dorm of my undergraduate institution. I attended a small liberal arts college in New England (I’ll withhold names until the statute of limitations has passed) where the dorm or “house” system was very important. You ate all meals in your house, you attended Convocation and other all-campus meetings (at which you performed your house cheer) with your house, and you went through Commencement with your house. It was quite common to live in the same house all four years, as I did.

My last year of undergrad, I lived in (you guessed it!) room 325 of this particular house. I can’t quite recall how it started, but I believe there was an argument between two very petite friends of mine over which was taller, and the shorter of the two was having trouble admitting defeat. Since seeing is believing, measurements were made against the wall outside of my room and marked in pencil. Over the months of that final year, other friends and family were measured. By Commencement day, we had amassed a little collection.

A year after I graduated, I came back to campus to attend the graduation of a good friend (RG, one of the two original height disputants). We went to visit the old dorm, and learned that it was soon to undergo a complete renovation / redecoration. I’m *pretty* sure there was already some preparatory work visible on the walls, which gave us inspiration and courage for what we were about to do, but that may just be a guilty conscience trying to soothe itself. We went up to visit my old hallway, and there were the height markings, just as we had left them. They were going to be replacing the wallpaper anyway, we reasoned. It was clear from the work they had already started. Someone (not me!) produced a pocket knife. It was all done surprisingly quickly and easily. We rolled up the strip of wallpaper we had liberated / salvaged / preserved, and at the last minute, someone (okay, it was me this time) gave the plastic number plaque outside of my old room a good, sharp yank (I mean, in for a penny…). All that to say, memory and nostalgia are very, very powerful forces. They can even turn a venerable college ceremony into a heist and the mildest of future librarians into a scofflaw.

A system issue is affecting the performance of Reader on the ProQuest Ebook Central platform.  PDF download and online reading services are not available.   System engineers are working to fix the issue, and we’ll update you as soon as we know more.

As we come to the end of Indigenous Peoples’ History Month, Technical Services and Xwi7xwa Library are pleased to announce a recent step undertaken in the Library’s effort to decolonize Indigenous subject headings. You may have noticed that many thousands of Xwi7xwa records previously containing the term “First Nations” now use the broader heading Aboriginal Canadians. For many years, Xwi7xwa Library’s own thesaurus has rejected the LCSH term “Indians of North America” in favour of local alternatives. As Sarah Dupont, Head of Xwi7xwa Library states, “When Aboriginal Peoples go looking to find representations of our many diverse knowledges in the Library collections, we should be able to search using terms we use to describe ourselves. We should not feel the sting of antiquated, colonial, and racist words that perpetuate negative connotations of us, especially when we and our Allies go to do the work of lifting academia and broader society out of these shadows through our scholarly efforts.” Adolfo Tarango, Head of Technical Services, adds, “While we know terminology that attempts to group Aboriginal Canadians is fraught with problems of historic, contextual, and personal challenges, new words to both represent them as a group and replace the most prevalent, problematic phrase Indians of North America were needed to signal a shift in how we think about our roles as professionals in the continued mis-treatment of ‘othered’ peoples.” Sue Andrews, Principle Cataloguer, adds, “Our choice of the new phrase, Aboriginal Canadians, has helped us to correct earlier interpretations and uses of the term “First Nations” in our records, and to instead provide a term that is more inclusive of the different groups that represent our rich heritage of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples in Canada. By selecting a term used widely in Canadian contexts by Aboriginal Canadians themselves we uphold our principle of “cultural warrant” for our choices of terms in our FNHL thesaurus.”

We commit to being responsive to changing this term as needed, and look to our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit colleagues to advise us along this journey. Congratulations, Xwi7xwa and Technical Services!

Dr. Susan E. Parker, UBC's University Librarian, will serve as Director, Western Region Representative on the CARL Board of Directors until 2022.

The Indigenous Music & Dance Research Guide provides strategies and information for researchers searching for Indigenous artists, dance and music performances. It provides resources like books to begin research from, search terms, music and dance videos, current news, ways to find Indigenous artists on websites like Youtube, and a list of local BC artists to add to your music playlists.

The Browse by Genre page has a short list of Indigenous artists sorted into different genres. If you know of an artist that should be on our list, email us and we’ll add it!

Happy listening!

June 26, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Due to scheduled maintenance

The following services may be down on Friday, June 26th, from 5:00pm – 9:00 pm PST:

  • Citation Linker (Full Text Online page)
  • eJournal Portal (“Journal Titles” tab on Library Homepage)
  • UlrichsWeb

As well, the “Alternatives” feature of the Library Access Browser Extension (Lean Library) may also be down.

Summon itself should not be affected, though any linking through the Citation Linker will be during that time.


UPDATE: As of June 24 morning, EBSCOhost databases seem to be back to normal.

EBSCOhost Databases were down earlier today

They appear to be back, but are very slow.

Stay tuned for any further updates.

UBC Librarians Recommend Part 2

From the latest adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma to author Liu Cixn’s classic Three-Body Problem, this is the second instalment in a series of recommendations from UBC librarians and library staff. Find your next novel, film or documentary in UBC Library’s online collections.

Independent learning

Independent Learning graphic

Stephanie Savage, Scholarly Communications and Copyright Librarian, has been preoccupied with thoughts about the economy and capitalism in recent months. “As a result, I have been reading books about class, wealth and consumerism,” she says. Stephanie recommends My life with things: the consumer diaries by Elizabeth Chin: “My Life with Things is a meditation on the author’s relationship with consumer goods and highlights the cultural value and significance of possessions and consumption.”

“Sociologist Rachel Sherman’s Uneasy street: the anxieties of affluence is a revealing and fascinating look at how today’s elite view their wealth and place in society,” Stephanie shares.

Kimberly Fama, Reference Librarian at David Lam Library, has been finding motivation in Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. “This book offers invaluable lessons using anecdotes, scientific evidence and personal stories that will make you realize that hard work and perseverance can play a bigger role in achieving success rather than just having natural talent,” Kim explains.

Classics and adaptations

Classics and adaptations

“Recently I watched Emma, the 2020 adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel. This latest version is so fun and beautifully shot,” said Savage. “The Library recently subscribed to Audio Cine Films, an online database of Hollywood and international feature films. Because I am spending most of my time at home I have had a lot of opportunity to take advantage of this new resource.”

Allan Cho, Research Commons Librarian, suggests a classic in China for almost two decades, Three-Body Problem by author Liu Cixin. “First of the three-book trilogy gained immediate acclaim in 2014 in North America when it was nominated for the Nebula Award for the best works of science fiction or fantasy,” Allan shares.

“C.C. Tsai (Tsai Chih Chung)’s illustrated versions of Chinese classics are always my favorite,” shares Phoebe Chow, Program Services Assistant at the Asian Library. “His wonderful drawings brilliantly capture the spirit of the difficult original text. The Way of Nature collected stories written by Zhuangzi, a pivotal figure in Classical Philosophical Daoism. These thought-provoking stories talk about how human beings live with nature and what the basics of nurturing life are.”


Documentaries graphics

If you’re interested in documentaries, Phoebe has also been spending her time watching Free Solo, a film about the first person to free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000 feet high El Capitan Wall, and Forever, Chinatown, a James Q. Chan film.

Forever, Chinatown reminds me to cherish the present moment and people around you. The world is ever-changing, but memories can be long-lasting. Sometimes they are even prettier. Highly recommend!” says Phoebe.

Looking for more recommendations? UBC librarians and library staff are here to help.

Top row: Kat McGrath, Lisa Larkins; Middle row: Linda Wensveen; Bottom row: Katherine Kalsbeek, Dr. Susan E. Parker.

UBC Library is pleased to announce that Katherine Kalsbeek, Lisa Larkins, Kat McGrath, and Linda Wensveen are the 2020 recipients of UBC Library Awards. Each year, the Library Awards Program shines a light on those employees who have demonstrated exceptional creativity, innovation, leadership, excellence and a dedication to customer service through their work.

The awards were presented during the 2020 UBC Library Summer Recognition Awards Ceremony, held virtually on Zoom this year on Monday, June 15, 2020. Congratulations to Katherine, Lisa, Kat and Linda, and thank you to everyone who participated by submitting nominations.

Katherine Kalsbeek

Katherine Kalsbeek (Head, Rare Books & Special Collections) is a winner of the 2020 UBC Library Employee Excellence Award, which recognizes a Library employee who consistently demonstrates their commitment to making an impact on the Library and making it a better workplace for all, through living our values and behaviors. Their kindness, compassion and respect for those above and below make them eagerly sought after as project team members or leaders.

Katherine’s colleagues see her humility, warmth and visionary spirit as an inspiring example. Her impact can be seen in the collections she has shaped, the library staff and librarians she has supported, the relationships she has built, the leadership style she embodies.

Lisa Larkins

Lisa Larkins (E-resources Licensing Specialist, Technical Services) is the winner of the 2020 UBC Library Leadership From Within Award, which recognizes a Library employee who consistently demonstrates leadership through their ability to inspire engagement in others, while exemplifying the Library’s values. They are sought after for their advice and regularly go above and beyond for the betterment of processes, services or the workplace.

Lisa brings stamina, a logical mindset and a gift for communicating in a professional, firm and friendly manner with the range of vendors and publishers with which the Library and University conduct business.

Kat McGrath

Kat McGrath (Renewals & Collections Librarian, Technical Services) is a winner of the 2020 UBC Library Employee Excellence Award, which recognizes a Library employee who consistently demonstrates their commitment to making an impact on the Library and making it a better workplace for all through living our values and behaviors. Their kindness, compassion and respect for those above and below make them eagerly sought after as project team members or leaders. Their presence has made the Library a better place.

Leading by example, Kat’s unwavering work ethic, integrity and inclusiveness makes her a role model within the Library. She is lauded for her dedication to collections, research and learning, her leadership and collaborative spirit, and her enthusiasm in supporting community events and activities.

Linda Wensveen

Linda Wensveen (Library Assistant, Borrower Services) is the winner of the 2020 UBC Library Unsung Hero Award, which recognizes a Library employee or team who keeps our libraries running, delivering services collections and operations. Their efforts help the Library to effectively deliver the stellar service that users have come to expect.

After seeing her workload expand substantially when the campus first transitioned to online instructions in late March, Linda stayed focused and simply got to work in providing her expertise and excellent service. She continues to work closely with faculty, librarians and other course reserve staff, even at a distance.

With the summer comes more time for being on the land and participating in fun activities, like hiking, socially distanced picnics, trips to local campgrounds, and new readings! Xwi7xwa has found inspiration from #Skwalawenreads who celebrates local ancestral plant relationships and Squamish culture. We’ve made a few additions but hope this list of books helps you feel a connection to the nature around us!

The Standing People: Wild Medicinal Plants of British Columbia
by Kahlee Keane explores the medicinal plants in different parts of BC and how they are used through the lens of the herbalist author.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is a Potawatomi woman who considers plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. She believes these teachers help us understand what it means for humans to be “the younger brothers of creation.” Throughout the book, she circles toward a central argument: the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the world.

As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson locates Indigenous political resurgence as a practice rooted in uniquely Indigenous theorizing, writing, organizing, and thinking. Indigenous resistance is a radical rejection of contemporary colonialism focused around refusing the dispossession of Indigenous bodies and land.

Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America by Nancy J. Turner is two volumes that follows Indigenous People throughout time, showing how they actively participated in their environments, managed and cultivated valued plant resources, and maintained key habitats that supported their dynamic cultures for thousands of years, as well as how knowledge was passed on from generation to generation and from one community to another.

The Water Walker written and illustrated by Joanne Robertson is the story of a determined Ojibwe Grandmother (Nokomis) Josephine Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (Water).

The Sea of Grass: a Family Tale from the American Heartland by Walter R. Echo-Hawk is a historical fiction novel inspired by real people and events that were shaped by the land, animals, and plants of the Central Plains and by the long sweep of Indigenous history in the grasslands.

Bridging Cultures: Scientific and Indigenous Ways of Knowing Nature by Glen Aikenhead & Herman Michell addresses the need for environmental science and science educators to embrace traditional Indigenous knowledge in a straight-forward and accessible manner.

Medicines to Help Us: Traditional Métis Plant Use by Christi Belcourt and Michif translations by Rita Flamand & Laura Burnouf helps readers understand and find their own awareness of the healing power of plants that is a life force generated from the strength of Mother Earth. It fuses Belcourt’s evocative artwork with Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Western Science.

Muskgege: Carol’s Traditional Medicines by Caroline Sanoffsky and illustrated by Nicole Marie Burton is written for grades K-8 students featuring descriptions and illustrations of 36 wild plants that can be used to make medicines.

Plants Have So Much to Give Us, All We Have to Do is Ask by Mary Siisip Geniusz is a book of Anishinaabe teachings, recipes, and botanical information told in the form of stories that brings the plants to life with narratives that explain their uses, meaning, and history.

Looking for more suggestions? Email us at with some more information on what you’re looking for and we’ll give you suggestions!

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