staff viewing the document

Katherine Kalsbeek and Richard Pollard admire the Papal bull acquired by UBC Library. Credit: Don Erhardt


An extraordinary Papal document that’s nearly 800 years old has become a valuable teaching and research tool at UBC, thanks to a history instructor’s passion and the restoration efforts of UBC Library.

The medieval text, called a Papal bull, was written in 1245. A legal decree issued in Latin by Pope Innocent IV to the Italian convent of San Michele in Trento, it features the signatures of the Pope and 13 cardinals (including future pope Nicholas III). Papal bulls exist elsewhere in Canada, but most are from the 15th century or later, making UBC’s one of the oldest of its kind in Canada.

“UBC has acquired something really exceptional,” says Richard Pollard, an early European specialist and instructor in UBC’s Department of History. “It’s very useful as a representation of medieval documents generally.”

With recommendations from UBC’s English and History departments, the Library acquired the document for approximately $15,000 last May from Bernard Quaritch Ltd., an antiquarian book and manuscript seller in London, England.

image of seal

Detail of the leaden seal, referred to as the “bull”; it features images of St. Paul and St. Peter. Credit: Don Erhardt


The bull, although in good condition, had numerous thick creases, small gaps and tears – the result of being stored in a folded fashion for centuries. Over the course of several weeks, the parchment was painstakingly restored by Anne Lama, the Library’s conservator. She dusted, filled gaps, dried, and eventually flattened the bull using a humidification chamber – meaning users can now read the document without damaging it. “The document is like a patient,” explains Lama. “Restoration is like medicine.”


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UBC Library’s Spring Update in the BCLA Browser features updates on the launch of the much-loved Videomatica film collection; the donation of the exceptional Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs;  the latest winner of the Innovative Dissemination of Research Award; and more.

The BCLA Browser is the online, open access publication of the British Columbia Library Association.

 The donation of the Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs to UBC Library received generous print, television and radio coverage.

Read: “Collector donates rare photos to UBC” in the Globe and Mail (March 18, 2014); “The history of B.C., in photographs” in the Vancouver Sun (March 18, 2014); and “Famed local art collector donates 18,000 historical photographs to UBC” in the Ubyssey. The Huffington Post B.C. also published “7 Signs You Grew Up In B.C. In The 1800s” (March 18, 2014).

View an interview that appeared on the March 18 Global News broadcast:

Listen to a March 21 interview on CBC’s Early Edition (the interview begins at 2:17:34) and a March 25 Radio-Canada interview (please note that this interview is in French; it begins about 2:25 into the segment entitled “L’entrevue culturelle du jour”).

And listen to a March 19 interview (see below) that aired on the CKNW Morning News

For more, please visit the Uno Langmann Collection at UBC Library.



RBSC is located on Level 1 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. Photo © Lara Swimmer Photography

Five special items from UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) are highlighted in the Ubyssey, UBC’s student newspaper. These fascinating finds include a letter from Napoleon Bonaparte; Uncle Jim’s Canadian Nursery Rhymes; the Olive Allen Biller collection; an act dealing with “swine and goats” from the John Keenlyside Legal Research collection; and a copy of Alice in Wonderland that features illustrations from the surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

Read Book supplement: 5 incredible relics from UBC Rare Books in the Ubyssey.


Can’t make it to Sochi 2014? Not to worry. There are over 20 UBC experts available to comment on the Sochi Games, from security to sports science at: Find Games-related experts, Q&As and feature stories about UBC people going to Sochi; Russia; Athlete health, sport medicine and doping; Sport psychology; Sustainability and the Games; Games impacts; Law and society; and, the Paralympics.

Re-live the Vancouver 2010 Olympics via cIRcle, UBC’s Digital Repository! Explore the cIRcle 2010 Olympics Project which preserved UBC’s intellectual output related to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Highlights include conference webcasts and other events, research, and coursework.

Stay tuned for… The Vancouver 2010 Olympics’ Intellectual Muscle podcasts in cIRcle soon!

Did You Know?

The Olympic Games Impact (OGI) reports covers the pre-games and post-games’ studies including their results, lessons, and the technical report. Find all of them and more in cIRcle, UBC’s Digital Repository. Explore the UBC and the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games community at:

Above image is courtesy of UBC News


The conclusion of University Librarian Ingrid Parent’s presidency of IFLA and an update on the LibQUAL survey are highlighted in the Fall 2013 issue of the CPSLD Newsletter

Other news covers the digitization of Canada’s oldest feminist periodical, the acquisition of the oldest book in UBC Library’s collections and more.

The Library’s submission begins on page 29 of the newsletter, which is published on behalf of the Council of Post Secondary Library Directors, British Columbia.

The fourth annual UBC Library and United Way Spelling Bee drew a crowd of over 100 spellers and a total of 17 teams.

During a sudden-death overtime round, Jan Wallace, head of the David Lam Management Research Library stepped to the mic to represent the David Lam Library team “Show Me the Honey” against the UBC Ceremonies and Special Events “Lexicons” – and brought home the first victory for a UBC Library team.

Image of staff

The winners of the 4th annual Spelling Bee.

Trish Rosseel, Acting Head of the Humanities & Social Sciences Division at Koerner Library, lead the event as MC and challenged competitors with words such as graupel, appoggiatura and foofaraw. 

The cross-campus team competition to raise awareness for the United Way was broadcast live on CiTR, UBC’s campus-based alternative programming radio. 

The event was also featured in the November 13 edition of the Ubyssey in “Our Campus: UBC abuzz during 4th annual charity spelling bee.”

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