Digitizing content for our digital collections happens five days a week in the basement of the Irving K Barber Learning Centre (IKBLC) on UBC’s Vancouver campus. While we pass many hours in the Digitization Centre (here’s a bit about our work space from 2014), most of the digitization crew also spends a lot of time in IKBLC in general: the building includes the Music, Art, and Architecture Library, University Archives, Rare Books and Special Collections, and the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies. Plus, there’s a cafe. And gorgeous study spaces. And this building includes the Main Library, one of the first buildings on campus.

This is all to say, we pass our days in a pretty cool place, and this post is dedicated to our home away from home.

 

The library began as a concept for the Point Grey campus, and its construction was the result of student demonstrations in 1922 (now known as the Great Trek).

1923 Sharp and Thompson plan for the Main Library.

 

The building opened with the inauguration of the new campus in 1925. There are some interesting stories behind the library’s development leading to this point, including WWI spies and a public stand for the theory of evolution. There’s also a faked photo of the early library that was published in 1970s.

Point Grey campus, 1925.

 

The exterior gained landscaping, including a pond, in its early years. There’s still a water feature today.

The original entrance, pictured here in 1931, remains a popular place for photos.

 

The interior included study spaces and stacks.

A rather captivating capture of angles in the library in 1929.

 

It appears this reading room did not change much in the first 20 years, although some artwork was later added to the walls. Today known as the Chapman Learning Commons, the long tables, stacks (the far right, dark area) and card catalogues (left, along the wall) are replaced by cozy chairs and computer terminals. The alcove room in the background (now called the Dodson room) holds many speakers and events.

Reading room when the library opened in 1925.

 

The Library gained a wing in 1947. The second wing was added in the 1960s.

Sunnin’ on the lawn in March 1957.

 

There are a lot of technological advances in the history of this building, too, from the card catalogue and the bindery to the computer circulation terminal in 1965 (topt row), to the microfiche catalogue, the listening room, and the army of now-dated looking desktop computers in 2003 (bottom row).

From 2004 – 2008 the wings, as well as much of the interior of the Main Library, were replaced with more modern architecture and amenities (this can be seen on the IKBLC website) to become the space we know and love today.

If you’re as into this building as we are, there’s plenty more to see and read! We shared some highlights of its 94-year life pulled from the rich histories produced on campus: UBC Archives provides photos and renderings and information about the development of the building itself in the Building the Main Library 1923-1925  and the Main Library Architectural Drawings (1923-1964) collection, and the UBC Library also has an in-depth historical timeline for all the details of the Main Library and other branches. You can even take a virtual tour of the building.

View of building before the original wings were demolished, taken in 2002 from the Walter C. Koerner Library.

 

Cst. Graham Walker

In 2015, Constable Graham Walker of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police was asked to research the force’s history for their 10-year anniversary. His research led him to the City of Vancouver Archives, BC Hydro Archives, the Vancouver Police Museum and to our very own UBC Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections where he discovered that the history of the Vancouver Transit Police in fact dates back more than 100 years – to 1904. In his digging, Walker uncovered something even more intriguing, the 102-year-old unsolved murder of Charles Painter, a special constable for the BC Electric Railway, in 1915.  We spoke to Constable Walker about his incredible journey into the past and the research that has culminated in a provincial memorial for Charles Painter.

How did you first learn about Charles Painter’s murder?

I was part of the event planning team for Transit Police’s 10-year anniversary in December 2015, and I was curious about our origins previous to the BC Transit Special Constables who were first appointed in 1985. My research began at BC Hydro Library and Archives, then UBC Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections. Before long I had learned of a century-long history of railway constables, night watchmen, and security officers on transit in British Columbia. There was even an armed special constabulary which protected the transit and power systems during World War II. Continuing my research, I visited the Vancouver Police Museum. There, the curator was assisting me in reviewing their archives when she discovered Painter’s murder recorded in the Vancouver Police annual report from 1915.

What made you want to learn more about his death?

This was the first anyone had heard of a line-of-duty death in our organization’s history. I also knew that he was not listed on the provincial memorial for fallen officers. Recognizing him was important to me because I felt a personal connection – he did a similar job to mine and I was even the same age as him when he died. It was an especially tragic death because it was caused by another person, and not an accident. He never had a memorial, and wasn’t recognized – possibly because he had no known family at the time of his death. This was a wrong I knew I could correct by collecting the appropriate evidence for a proposal that he be added to the memorial. 

Tell us a little about Charles Painter, his job and how he died.

Back in 1915, the streetcar system was operated by BC Electric Railway, a company which also operated power plants and sold electricity to cities and residents – that company became BC Hydro in 1962. They employed constables, appointed under the Railway Act, for special projects or events. In S/Cst. Painter’s case, during World War I he was assigned to the tracks along False Creek to guard against wire theft. It was 2 am on March 19th, 1915 when he spotted a man carrying a sack on his back near to the tracks. He called out to him and drew his revolver. In the resulting struggle, the gun went off and the suspect fled west along the tracks with Painter’s gun, handcuffs, and baton. He was taken to Vancouver General Hospital via the Police Ambulance, but succumbed to his injuries two days later.

I focused on three things that were required for him to be honoured by the provincial memorial – that he was duly appointed to office, he was acting in good faith at the time of the incident, and his death was caused by an external influence. I first reached out to Vancouver PD to see if they had files on the investigation, but unfortunately, they didn’t. Local historians tell me that back then, detectives would routinely take files and exhibits home after the case was concluded. The provincial archives did have the coroner’s inquest on file, which was of great help. It included witness testimony from the man who found Painter wandering West 6th Avenue calling for help, and how he got him to the hospital. With the inquest file, the UBC Library Rare Books Special Collections records showing how constables were appointed, and copies of the Railway Act of 1911, I was able to put together a proposal. It included an endorsement from Chief LePard and an explanation of how Metro Vancouver Transit Police is a succeeding agency. It was accepted and his name was added to the memorial.

Senior Library Assistant, Felicie de la Parra and Vivian Yan, Public Service Library Assistant work through the BC Electric fonds with Cst. Walker.

Tell us about the sources that you found most helpful at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections that helped you with your search.

I had to refer to the BC Electric fonds. While Painter’s death was one of the most important things I discovered, much what we know about transit policing in BC resides in the RBSC collection.Early records include letters of appointment for constables, lists of locations where they were deployed, and even reports on their activities. Later files include newspaper clippings of transit related crime including robberies and thefts. The most interesting files are from the years 1904 to 1918 and include the names of many of the people who were early protectors of the streetcar and transit system. My favourite item is one describing how a constable was suspected of taking a drink while on duty while posted to the terminal at 425 Carrall Street in 1909. The railway hired a private detective agency to pose as streetcar employees to monitor his activities. Their observations make for an interesting peek into the goings on at Hastings and Carrall during that time period. The constable was followed into the nearby hotel bars and was fired as a result. 

One of several reports Cst. Graham referred to in his research.

Who did you work with at Rare Books and Special Collections and can you tell us a little about how you worked together?

It was by recommendation from the librarian at BC Hydro that I first reached out to RBSC. Through the UBC website I reached librarian Chelsea Shriver, who invited me to attend in person. I had never conducted archival research, so she had to show me the ropes – and was very helpful. I started by asking for a few boxes listed in the BC Electric collection. The library staff walked me through requesting material, and protocols around reproducing information and how to reference my sources. Even when I had questions about the origins of material or was looking for more, they knew right where to look. I’ve returned several times in the hopes of finding more, and I’m lured there still by the chance there are more amazing stories remaining hidden in those boxes.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in the lower mainland to parents (and grandparents) who worked in the justice system. I was an officer with Correctional Service Canada before joining Transit Police, and I have specialized in public relations/communications in policing. A graduate of Thompson Rivers University, I have always had an interest in local history. This project has really piqued my interest though, as it combines my career with my hobby. It was really a pleasure to learn about things which were long forgotten.

What’s next? Any new developments in the Charles Painter story?

Well, S/Cst. Painter’s murder is still technically unsolved. While there was some evidence which surfaced in Steveston in late 1916, the prime suspect was never brought to trial and I’m still searching for a young soldier’s letter which implicated a man with pro-German sentiments as responsible for the murder. In the meantime, our employees have purchased Painter a gravestone which will be dedicated and consecrated at a ceremony on the 102nd anniversary of his death in March.

Cst. Graham Walker at the Provincial Memorial for fallen officers where Cst. Charles Painter’s name has been added.

A private gravestone dedication for Charles Painter will take place on March 21, 2017.

 

Xwi7xwa congratulates Dr. Daniel Heath Justice for being awarded the UBC Killam Research Prize.

For more information, please see the award announcement.

 

Our collections feature thousands of photos, from natural wonders to family portraits, but it’s rare to see the person behind the lens—or even the lens itself. Practically, it makes sense, but nonetheless we love seeing the vintage models and often-smiling faces behind them.

 

Style circa 1916.

 

1926 photographers on a cruise.

 

Action shot, estimated sometime between 1940 and 1950.

 

1929 escapades.

 

There’s some serious nature photography happening here.

 

Quick capture circa 1916.

 

This growing French language collection is one of the newest editions to Xwi7xwa Library. These resources are meant to support educators and students with integrating Aboriginal ways of knowing and learning within the mandate of the new BC curriculum. In its present state, the majority of the titles in this section are geared towards children and young adults. Many of the titles in the French language collection also discuss residential schools and their impacts. Original French language titles are available in addition to translated works.

Xwi7xwa Library, in collaboration with First Nations House of Learning, is moving lower used materials to one of two storage locations on campus, effective March 2017.  This helps to ensure the long term preservation of these items while maintaining their accessibility for our users. It will also increase the capacity for adding new items to the current active collection.

Low use materials will be housed in the ASRS (Automated Storage & Retrieval System) Xwi7xwa collection on central campus in close proximity to students, researchers and community members, and will be available for same-day turn around. Lowest use material will move to Library PARC Xwi7xwa collection, UBC’s preservation and print repository on South Campus, with retrieval times of 48 hours or less. All Xwi7xwa materials will be continue to be listed in the catalogue, with Xwi7xwa location codes specific to the new locations, for example, XWI7XWA ASRS Storage.

Xwi7xwa Library is a centre for academic and community Indigenous scholarship. These collection shifts allow the Library to make use of additional library storage space to promote effective and efficient access to historical, as well as contemporary, published and printed material, while at the same time creating additional flexible learning areas in the library.

If you have any questions about the changes, please contact Ann Doyle, Xwi7xwa librarian: ann.doyle@ubc.ca; 604-822-2385.

From June 22 to 24, 2017, the University of British Columbia and its co-hosts will welcome NAISA, the largest scholarly organization devoted to Indigenous issues and research, to UBC’s Vancouver campus on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam Nation.

Xwi7xwa will host a small lunch and tour for delegates interested in learning more about the library. Please consider registering for this when you register for the conference. We look forward to welcoming you!

Please view the NAISA trailer and conference website for a sneak peak of the host venues, included Xwi7xwa.

 

What do the Science Undergraduate Society, UBC Botanical Garden, and Frederic Wood Theatre have in common?

They’re all part of our UBC Publications collection! You might expect to find yearbooks, student handbooks, and the Ubyssey—and you wouldn’t be wrong—but UBC Publications also includes a diverse assortment of reports and publications from university organizations. Check out what’s been going on the last 100 years.

 

The 432 A publication of the University of British Columbia Science Undergraduate Society (UBC SUS). Our collection covers 1987 to 2002, and you’ll find news and information, events and faculty information, and a whole lot of sass.

This issue includes an irreverent guide to the SUS lounge, the struggle of buying a Nokia 6160, and a few references to 22 oz science beer mugs.

 

Creative Giving Previously titled “Endowments and Donations” (1945 to 1947) and “Gifts, Grants and Bequests” (1948 to 1966), this publication annually covers gifts to the university. While later issues tend to be lists of financial donors, earlier issues include such creative gifting as rose bushes, models of mushrooms, and barrels of pulp mill spent cooking liquor.

Mushroom models and Shakespeare’s pals.

 

Davidsonia Produced by the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, our collection covers the 1970 – 1981 publishing run of Davidsonia. The publication was named after John Davidson: B.C.’s first Provincial Botanist, instructor in UBC’s Department of Botany, and the founder of the UBC Botanical Garden. In it you can find stories about children’s vegetable garden programs and mixed hanging baskets.

 

FOCUS  (now known as Innovations) comes form UBC’s Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS). Get a feel for how the field developed from 1990 – 2014, including increasing industrial productivity with mechatronics, software and hardware debugging, and estimating optical flow with toys.

Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man: foe of Ghostbusters, friend of science.

 

Indian Education Newsletter Published by the Indian Education Resource Center established in 1970 at UBC. The publication ran until 1977, and covers information like Aboriginal issues and resources available at the center.

 

Trek Previously titled the Graduate Chronicle and UBC Alumni Chronicle, this pub has been communicating to alumni about the university, and to alumni about other alumni, since 1931. In addition to local news and updates, the periodical includes photos and illustrations, and, one of the most entertaining parts, advertisements.

Advert for the Sun, 1951.

 

UBC Theatre Programs Explore theatre programs (1915 to 1991) from UBC actors and the Frederic Wood Theatre.

And there are many more publications to explore!

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