The DTES RAP provides access to research and research-related materials relevant to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside through an easy-to-use public interface.

Photo credit: Paul Joseph, UBC Brand and Marketing.

Community members living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) have been the focal point of countless scholarly research studies and surveys over the years. Up until recently, this research has remained largely out of reach to participants and community organizations, locked away in journals and other databases that require paid subscriptions to access. Community members have said they would benefit from access to that data for evaluating program and service effectiveness, for example, or for grant writing.

The recently launched Downtown Eastside Research Access Portal (DTES RAP), a project led by the UBC Learning Exchange in partnership with UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, is designed to change that.

The DTES RAP provides access to research and research-related materials relevant to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside through an easy-to-use public interface. The portal was developed in consultation with DTES residents and community organizations through focus groups and user experience testing, and in collaboration with a number of university units.  

“I’ve noticed how people’s eyes light up when I talk about this project – it resonates with so many different people at the university and in the community,” says Angela Towle, Academic Director of the UBC Learning Exchange.

For members of the UBC community, the DTES RAP serves a variety of purposes. As an instructional tool that uses open-access resources, the DTES RAP can be used by librarians in reference work and supporting class assignments. Researchers will find the portal useful in amplifying the reach and impact of their work and, with support from the DTES RAP team, in meeting open access requirements. The portal can also help minimize demands on community time from researchers undertaking new research projects within the DTES by providing a reliable, primary information source. For students interested in learning more about the DTES community, the portal is an excellent first stop to enable proactive learning.


The DTES RAP website homepage.


The DTES RAP makes innovative use of UBC’s open access digital repository, cIRcle, in the back-end and relies on cIRcle’s infrastructure and services for content processing and reuse permissions. Currently, 50% of the total items in the DTES RAP comes from cIRcle. Through the UBC Co-op program, each term a student librarian is hired to scour cIRcle for relevant content and tag it to appear in the DTES RAP. Student librarians also contact authors who have copyright to relevant materials and offer to work with them to add those materials to cIRcle. However, the DTES RAP also curates relevant external materials and provides links to those items in their originally published locations. These records can include descriptions of items that cannot be archived in cIRcle because of copyright issues whereby full text is not available.

“We want these items to come up in our DTES RAP search results so that people know the materials exist,” explains Aleha McCauley, project lead for the DTES RAP and Community Engagement Librarian at UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. The DTES RAP describes these kinds of items as “Restricted Use” but also offers help in accessing those items via a button that appears next to inaccessible items. “We also include forms of public scholarship such as clear language summaries, in an effort to respond to community feedback that there was a need for alternate forms of research aside from the traditional article,” says McCauley.

“This project takes a nuanced approach to open access that recognizes that providing public links to academic articles is not enough,” says Towle. “We are exploring different ways to address these barriers including help materials, different genres and formats, workshops, outreach and a researcher directory.”

To support access, the Learning Exchange and UBC Library hired Nick Ubels to pilot a unique new role in the Learning Exchange. Ubels offers one-on-one support, along with workshops and demonstrations of the DTES RAP in action to bridge that gap.

“As we continue in this work, we’re constantly learning more about how best to meet community information needs,” says Ubels.

The DTES RAP was created as part of the Making Research Accessible Initiative (MRAi), a sustained collaboration that kicked off in 2015 between the UBC Learning Exchange and UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, and has been guided by a steering committee that includes the UBC Office of Community Engagement, the UBC Knowledge Exchange Unit, the UBC School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies (iSchool), Simon Fraser University Library, and the Vancouver Public Library.

Visit the DTES RAP to start exploring, and subscribe to the newsletter for updates about this project and ways to participate in its development.

For more information about workshops, demonstrations or one-on-one user support for DTES RAP, contact Nick Ubels (

Beginning September 8, 2020, UBC Library will provide bookable study space for students, faculty and staff in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre Monday through Saturday. This space will include access to desktop computers, printing and scanning and be organized to ensure safe physical distancing at all times. Study space must be reserved online. Masks are encouraged.
The Wild Ride: In and Out of Years and Over a Century of Picturebooks is a chronological look at the evolution of the picturebook, one of the important literary art forms to emerge from the 20th Century. This exhibit is on display in IKBLC on the Level 2 foyer from March 4 through May 30, 2020.

Michael Layland has won the Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia for his book In Nature’s Realm: Early Naturalists Explore Vancouver Island. The $2,500 prize, given by UBC Library and the Pacific BookWorld News Society, will be awarded at UBC’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre later this year.

Published by Touchwood Editions, Layland’s book explores the richly diverse flora and fauna of Vancouver Island through the records of explorers, settlers, and visitors, and with due respect to the wealth of Indigenous traditional knowledge of the island’s ecosystems.

“Since moving to Vancouver Island nearly 30 years ago, I’ve been fascinated by the island’s rich history, in particular during the eras of exploration and early settlement,” says Layland, “In Nature’s Realm combines my twin passions of history and nature, and complements my two earlier books. It tells how the Island’s flora and fauna appeared to the naturalists among the explorers and early settlers. It shows how their understanding was constrained by limited time and equipment, as well as the political motivations of their sponsors. In telling the story, I pay tribute to the Island’s original naturalists, the Indigenous Peoples, whose knowledge is at last being ‘discovered’ and appreciated.”

“This masterful book is remarkable in its physical appearance, and based on consummately executed research and investigation”, says Dr. Susan E. Parker, UBC’s University Librarian. “We are thrilled, once again, to highlight the fine work of an author from British Columbia.”

Trained as an officer and mapmaker in the Royal Engineers, Michael Layland was president of the Victoria Historical Society, the Friends of the BC Archives, and is an amateur naturalist. In Nature’s Realm is a companion volume to his two previous titles: A Perfect Eden: Encounters by Early Explorers of Vancouver Island and The Land of Heart’s Delight: Early Maps and Charts of Vancouver Island which detail the progression of European knowledge of Vancouver Island.

Shortlisted titles for the prize are:

At the Bridge: James Teit and an Anthropology of Belonging , Wendy C. Wickwire (UBC Press).

Against the Current and Into the Light: Performing History and Land in Coast Salish Territories and Vancouver’s Stanley Park,  Selena Couture (McGill-Queen’s University Press).

About the Prize

The Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Book on British Columbia, sponsored by UBC Library and the Pacific BookWorld News Society, recognizes the best scholarly book published by a Canadian author on a B.C. subject. The book prize was established in memory of Basil Stuart-Stubbs, a bibliophile, scholar and librarian who passed away in 2012. Stuart-Stubbs’s many accomplishments included serving as the University Librarian at UBC Library and as the Director of UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies. Stuart-Stubbs had a leadership role in many national and regional library and publishing activities. During his exceptional career, he took particular interest in the production and distribution of Canadian books and was associated with several initiatives beneficial to authors and their readers, and to Canadian publishing.

Winter weather conditions

UBC Vancouver library locations will be closed on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 due to winter weather conditions.

The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre building will remain open, however, service points will be closed.

Please refer to for additional updates.

UBC Library Changes to hours

UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre will be closed on Thursday, January 9, 2020. Due to a water leak, the heating system has been turned off. No library materials have been damaged or are in danger.


The building is scheduled to re-open on Friday, January 10 at 6 a.m. for regular operating hours.

The following classrooms will be closed for cleanup work January 9 – 12 inclusive:

Closed: Lecture theatre 182. Rooms 155, 156, 157, 158, 185, 192, 193 and 194.

Room 191 and the lecture theatre lobby flooring will require restoration work beyond January 12.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

UBC Library hosts exhibit honouring Vancouver icon John Fluevog. The exhibit, located in the David Lam Management Research Library and Level 2 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre runs until the end of the year.
The exhibit, that runs October 10 to November 15 on the Level 2 foyer of IKBLC, celebrates Jim Wong-Chu, a well-known Asian-Canadian historian, editor, author, and poet.

We’re getting ready to kick off the 10th annual UBC Library United Way Spelling Bee on Thursday, October 17.

UBC faculty, staff and students are invited to create a team of 4-10 people and compete for the win in this annual cross-campus event to raise awareness for the United Way.

  • Date: Thursday, October 17
  • Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • Location: 4th floor Golden Jubilee Room, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (1961 East Mall, Vancouver, B.C.)

To register your team, fill out the online form by Thursday, October 10th.  Registration is on a first come, first served basis, so don’t delay!

Download the 2019 Spelling Bee Poster. For more information, please contact

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Library





Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia

Spam prevention powered by Akismet