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.

UBC Library’s Chapman Learning Commons (CLC) has been busy creating new and innovative resources for UBC students to access online. Located in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, the Chapman Learning Commons puts an emphasis on peer-led, student-driven initiatives and shared-decision making. Through their programs and services, they strive to enrich academic support and enhance the experience of all UBC students.

Get the support you need through one of the following new services.

Practice for your online exams

With exam time fast approaching, the CLC has released a new self-enrollment course for UBC students who want to practice taking different types of online exams. The CLC’s Exam Prep Canvas Course is available to all students through self-enrollment through Canvas.

Become familiar with Proctorio, Lockdown Browser, Webwork and more to feel confident with online exam technology, just in time for the start of exams. CLC Online Assistants will also be available to help with pre-exam tech checks and troubleshooting.

Enroll for the course on Canvas.

Get help with your academic support questions

The CLC Online Assistants are trained peers ready to help answer student questions about academic support, learning technologies and online exams (including Canvas, Collaborate Ultra, Zoom, and more). They are available Monday-Friday 9am-5pm through email and video chat.

Reach out with your questions.

Register for Learning Skills Workshops

In June, the CLC launched a new online workshop series for students that offers skills training for the online learning environment. The series covers topics like finding work-life balance while remote learning, giving group presentations online, time management best practices, and developing online communication skills.

New dates are being added throughout the summer, so check back often.

Sign up for a workshop.

This project is part of UBC Library’s strategic direction to inspire with innovative spaces and services.

Learn more about our Strategic Framework.

Get to Know Mayu Ishida, Reference Librarian graphic

With the changing needs of library users during this unprecedented time, Mayu Ishida, Reference Librarian at UBC’s Woodward Library, continues to provide services and support to students, faculty and staff in the biological sciences, computer sciences, statistics and mathematics. As a proud graduate of UBC iSchool, Mayu has been contributing towards the learning and research advancement of her alma mater: “I’m a science librarian, so I have the opportunity to work in different aspects of the library and it’s been a very rewarding experience”.

When asked about what keeps her inspired, she answers: “I’m inspired by how UBC Library employees are adapting to our patrons’ information needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. We try to provide e-books and other online alternatives to print materials whenever possible. We continue providing reference services, consults, and workshops online. We contribute to AskAway, the province-wide virtual reference service, and have signed up for extra AskAway shifts since the usage of the service is increasing. I feel fortunate to be able to participate in these efforts”.

Thinking about her current remote working set-up, Mayu smiles. “I appreciate my team’s camaraderie. Recently, we had a new colleague who joined us and another colleague who returned from her leave. We greeted these two colleagues by setting our Zoom virtual backgrounds to a welcome banner that my colleague, Eleri, created specifically for this occasion,” she laughs.

On her time off, Mayu finds relaxation in knitting. “I like trying different types of yarn that I haven’t tried before. I just like all the different textures and colours and different materials that yarn is made of,” she explains. “Right now, I’m trying lacey yarn and I’m making a scarf with it. It’s taking a long time, but it’s rewarding”.

As Mayu reminisces about her own experience being welcomed to UBC Library, she recalls all the support she received throughout her career. As a new hire, Mayu would often meet with fellow new librarians and archivists over coffee, tea, and shared experiences. She would also connect with more tenured librarians, who guided her and offered perspectives. “That was a nice support group and I was fortunate to be matched with two mentors when I started – one from my branch and another from a different branch of the library,” she explains.

At this point in her career, Mayu feels fortunate that she has opportunities to foster rich learning experiences by mentoring student librarians working for Woodward Library. She makes it a point to impart time-tested advice that was given to her when she was a student librarian herself: “They have the freedom to explore the program, to build their CV, but also to get that well-rounded experience through experiential learning”.

Learn more about UBC Library’s online resources and how we’re supporting the UBC community during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Learn how Chapman Learning Commons Online Assistants can provide help over email and video chat.

UBC Library users can now use Library Access, a browser extension that provides seamless access to UBC Library subscriptions from anywhere on the web.

The extension, which requires a ‘once only’ installation, automatically detects when users are on a website that contains content the library subscribes to and allows access without having to visit the library website first.

If the content is not accessible, the extension will automatically check for open-access versions.

For Barbara Sobol, Undergraduate Services Librarian at UBCO, the browser extension is making research easier and more intuitive for her students. “For many students, Google is often the most logical place to start,” she says, “This tool prevents them from having to fragment their research between what is accessible through the library and what is available through other sources like government websites etc. It allows them to explore the full scope of sources more easily.”

Library Access is available for most frequently used browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Microsoft Edge. 

Download the Library Access Browser extension.

Visit the Library guide for FAQs and tips for troubleshooting.

This project is part of UBC Library’s strategic direction to create and deliver responsive collections.

Learn more about our Strategic Framework.

UBC Library users can now benefit from unlimited access to Covidence, a web-based systematic review management software platform. With a new institutional subscription to Covidence, the library has made it possible for faculty, staff and student researchers at UBC to significantly cut down on the time it takes to complete a systematic or other comprehensive literature review.

In a systematic review, researchers set out to address a clearly defined question by consolidating all available evidence. The process involves multiple stages, including preparing the research question; searching for studies that relate to the question; screening those studies to see how well they match the question and assessing the quality of the studies; extracting the data; analyzing and synthesizing the results; and reporting on the findings.

Typically, systematic reviews will include published studies from electronic databases, as well as unpublished research and what’s commonly known as ‘grey literature,’ which are non-commercially published works like government reports, conference presentations and industry whitepapers. Sorting through the vast plethora of studies that are found during the search phase of a systematic review can be a daunting task. Not surprisingly, this type of review is time intensive, sometimes taking up to 18 months or longer to complete. Covidence can help speed up the process by streamlining citation screening, full-text review, risk of bias assessments, quality appraisal and data extraction. The software can also be useful in other types of comprehensive literature reviews, such as scoping reviews.

Screenshot of Covidence title and abstract screening page.

The systematic review methodology first started appearing in medical research publications during the 1970s and 1980s, gaining popularity into the 1990s as use became widespread across the health sciences. Since then, the methodology has found a place in many other fields including education, social sciences, psychology, forestry, engineering and more.

In the midst of the current COVID-19 situation, many research projects are being put on hold or delayed as UBC labs remain closed and fieldwork is not possible because of the need for physical distancing. “Researchers in healthcare are now focussing on systematic reviews or other knowledge synthesis projects,” notes Charlotte Beck, Reference Librarian at UBC’s Woodward Library and an administrator for UBC Library’s Covidence account. Beck says students who were set to embark on practica are bringing their Capstone projects forward this summer and revising their research topics accordingly. With this new tool available to all UBC faculty, staff and students, the review process can not only be accelerated, but the overall experience can be improved, particularly for users undertaking their very first review.

Get started by connecting to Covidence, or visit the library website for more information.

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

Learn more about our Strategic Framework.

Recommendations by UBC Librarians

In light of this challenging time, we have compiled recommendations from a handful of UBC librarians for you to watch, read and listen from home. The resources can all be found in UBC Library’s online collections.

National Film Board picks

UBC Library NFB Campus recommendations

UBC Library’s National Film Board (NFB) Campus is a favourite film archive of Evan Thornberry, GIS Librarian at Koerner Library, and Sara Ellis, Art Librarian at the Music, Art and Architecture Library. “One of the most genuinely Canadian films I found was Helicopter Canada,” says Evan, reminiscing about his move to Canada, “For those of you who want to go back in time to 1966 and take a narrated flight across Canada, this is your movie”.

On April 22, Sara celebrated National Canadian Film Day by travelling back in time through a series of short films from NFB Campus. Her favourites include: Begone Dull Care (1949), Neighbours (1952), Lines Horizontal (1962) and Flamenco at 5:15 (1983).

Indigenous literature and film

UBC Library Indigenous literature and film recommendations

Sara Ellis, Art Librarian recommends Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013), “It is just as easy to immerse yourself in chapters on eating wild strawberries and leeks, as it is to read about how lichen grows on rocks or how estuaries can be restored to support the return of wild salmon populations,” she says.

Karleen Lyle-Delaurier, Information Services Librarian at Xwi7xwa Library, is also taking this time to explore Indigenous history through Daniel Heath Justice’s Why Indigenous Literatures Matter. “This book gave me a chance to explore history, identity, place, sexuality, time and so much more through the author’s articulation of how these concepts relate to Indigenous literature,” she says.

Rhymes for young ghouls / Les Films Seville present a Prospector Films production; a Jeff Barnaby Film, is serious as it should be given the topics it touches on, but leaves room for humour and love and I finally get to see an Indigenous female lead,” shares Karleen.

Family-friendly picks

UBC Library family-friendly recommendations

“If you are a Totoro fan, you might enjoy Mirai of the Future, “ says Tomoko Kitayama Yen, Japanese Language Librarian at Asian Library, “The reason why I loved the famous animated film, Our Neighbor Totoro, was I so enjoyed the little girl, Mei. This film features a four-year old boy, and is supposed to have described the child extremely well. I haven’t watched this yet, but I will very soon!”

From outdoor science experiments to infographics of the solar system and picture books, Wendy Traas, Acting head of the Education Library, shares three of her favourite family-bonding resources:

Looking for more recommendations? UBC Librarians are here to help.


As the UBC community transitions online courses and a period of remote work due to the COVID-19 situation, UBC librarians and library staff have been working to ensure that students, faculty, and staff are getting the support they need to continue their research, teaching and learning while physical locations are closed.

Increase in demand for support from subject librarians

UBC subject librarians, who are available via email and for online consultations, have seen an increase in demand for support. For Bianca Chui, a UBC History honours student in her third year, Japanese Studies Librarian, Tomoko Kitayama Yen was particularly helpful in helping to find resources for research, “Librarians are like wizards in finding information – I was struggling to do research on a project and Tomoko was so helpful in helping me to comb one of the databases. Librarians have also helped answer my questions about returning books during this time and about resources available for streaming through the AskAway chat app and I am very grateful to them for their help.”

Librarians supporting students, faculty and staff in the Medical and Allied Health Sciences are seeing an increase in demand for their expertise as researchers move away from lab or practice-based research to systematic and literature reviews. Librarians are also working to provide asynchronous and synchronous lectures to support research courses which have been moved ahead in the academic year.

Providing timely support to make course materials available online

As courses transition online, the library is providing support in making course materials available through the Library Online Course Reserves system, which is integrated with Canvas, ensuring appropriate copyright considerations and licensing permissions.

Dr. Kim Snowden, Instructor at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice utilized library support while transitioning her classes online. “I had to scramble to find readings that would normally be found in a course pack and to find online media to stream. The library has been so fast in helping me get those materials online and providing guidance about what I can do in terms of copyright, which can be a minefield.” Dr. Snowden is also exploring alternative Open Access options for course materials, “Erin Fields (Liaison Librarian and Flexible Learning Coordinator) has helped me to think a little differently about accessibility and pivoting into blended learning in my classes.  The support has been enormously helpful and I don’t think I could function without the upkeep that is happening behind the scenes at the library to ensure everything runs smoothly.”

Transitioning to online programming

Both the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication and the Research Commons are now offering online programming, from one-on-one consultations to workshops and webinars. “We are seeing a huge surge in attendance in our online workshops,” says Eugene Barsky, Head, Research Commons. “We have gone from an average of about 10 attendees per workshop to about 60.” UBC students and researchers can take advantage of workshops on developing foundational digital and computer literacy skills to mastering Data Analysis and management software tools.

The Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication continues to offer online one-on-one writing consultations and workshops and has launched two new online writing communities to help mitigate social isolation and help the UBC community stay motivated and connected. Every week, students, researchers and faculty gather for a few hours to write alone—together.

Increase in demand for web archiving and deposits into cIRcle

As information on the COVID-19 situation floods our online environment, librarians in Digital Initiatives are working with researchers to identify sources of web content that are important to retain for research purposes. This includes health, news, and policy information for communities throughout British Columbia as well as information specific to the UBC community.

There has also been a significant increase in requests to deposit material into cIRcle, UBC’s digital repository for research and teaching materials. For, Dr. Benjamin Cheung a Lecturer at UBC’s Department of Psychology and faculty supervisor to the Psychology Student Association’s Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference, cIRcle has allowed him to help students showcase their research during this unprecedented time. “PURC is a major annual event and features the work of almost 100 students,” he explains, “We’re immensely proud of all the work they have done and wanted to find a way to showcase it. Many of them are applying for grad school and so cancelling the physical conference meant that some presenters were concerned about its implications for listing the event on their CV.” 

Cheung reached out to his subject librarian Sheryl Adams and connected with Tara Stephen-Kyte, Digital Repository Librarian who facilitated the depositing into cIRcle. “Making the research available through cIRcle means that it has a DOI (Digital object identifier) and this allows students to include it on a CV so that adjudicators are able to access and evaluate it,” says Chung who plans to incorporate this as part of PURC moving forward, “Without Sheryl and Tara’s guidance, there is no way I or the PSA would have figured this out on our own.”

Working to supplement the library’s robust electronic collections

While physical branches are temporarily closed, making the print collection inaccessible, the library is working to source electronic versions of print materials for teaching and research to supplement its already robust e-collections. “We have been moving towards an e-preferred model for ebooks since 2015 and have been at the forefront in finding workable solutions with publishers,” says Ellen George, Humanities and Social Sciences/Collections (Monographs) and Acquisitions Librarian. “We purchase large e-book packages from some publishers and with others use an Evidence-Based Acquisitions (EBA) demand or patron driven acquisition model which provides access to a deep collection of content and allows us to purchase e-books based on usage data.” The EBA model also enables libraries more control over and knowledge of anticipated costs. “This approach helps us better forecast and plan our budgets,” says Kat McGrath, Renewals & Collections Librarian, “It has also helped us maintain a balance between acquiring e-journals and monographs so that our collections are balanced and cross-disciplinary.”

“The Library has already been investing for some time in many of the tools, resources and services that are helping support the transition to online teaching and learning,” says Dr. Susan E. Parker, University Librarian, “The past weeks have demonstrated how university libraries are prepared to flex in order to support student, faculty and staff in their work during this challenging time.”

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