Ya Min Wu has worked at UBC Library for the last five years. But his experience working with Chinese rare books goes back even earlier.

“Before I came to Canada [in 2001], I worked in a public library in China, Liaoning Provincial Library. I was there for about 15 years,” he says. “I primarily worked on the Chinese rare books, so I have lots of time spent on rare books authentication, cataloguing and some preservation.”

Moving from China to Canada with his family, he switched tracks to work in business and manufacturing in Vancouver for the next decade before returning to library work at a small company in Burnaby that provided library services to the Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver Public Libraries. Later, when an opportunity came up to work at UBC Library, he joined the Technical Services team in 2014 to work with Chinese language materials.

“UBC has a great Chinese rare book collection. It’s a huge collection, outside China,” he says, noting that the entire collection includes about 4,000 titles in 60,000 volumes, making UBC a top-tier research library for Chinese Studies in North America.

One of his first major projects at the library was to work on Discovering Modern China, a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) project that involved close collaboration between UBC’s Asian Library and the University of Washington East Asia Library to catalogue large volumes of valuable but hidden scholarly material: “At Asian Library there are lots of uncatalogued materials that have not been touched before. We worked very hard, together with some student assistants and Asian Library’s Chinese Studies Librarian to originally catalogue more than 1,000 items in one year.”

In 2018, the library got funding support through donors to work on the Puban Collection, UBC’s largest Chinese rare books collection, consisting of 45,000 volumes spanning subject fields like history, literature, philology and philosophy. Ya Min’s work is now centered on the Puban Collection, both cataloguing the collection and planning for its future storage, preservation, conservation and digitization.

“The project is focused on how to organize and make the Puban Collection support teaching and research. For the past 60 years, the collection has helped to make UBC Asian Studies one of the best in the world,” he says. “So how can it benefit new students in the future? This is the project.”

In honour of the 60th anniversary of the Library’s acquisition of the Puban Collection in 1959, Ya Min Wu will be hosting bi-weekly tours highlighting items from the collection at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections. Learn more about the tours.

It’s been nearly five years since Anne Lama, Library Conservator, joined the team at UBC Library. At the time, her move from Paris to Vancouver was a big change for her and her family. “We packed everything and decided to move first for one year,” she says. “And in fact, we fell in love with Canada and the people so we stayed.”

Having spent 10 years at the National Archives in France, Anne has brought time-tested experience to UBC Library but remembers the challenge of adapting to a new institution, language and culture, all at once. She noticed, for example, that the atmosphere at UBC—and Vancouver in general—is quite different than what she experienced in France. “It’s about the way people work and the difference, of course, with France. Here it’s very calm, everybody is zen,” she laughs. For new UBC hires, Anne’s advice is simple: “I would say take your time to get to know everybody, the services, and how it works before jumping in to your work.”

While relatively new to Canadian culture then—she did an internship in Toronto in 1999—she also had the unique opportunity to establish preservation-conservation processes at UBC, which, until she arrived, had not had a dedicated Conservator on staff. “National Archives has a big restoration lab with almost 20 people working there,” she recalls, who now works on a team of two with an assistant.

No longer the newcomer, Anne has a strong vision for the future. When asked about her wish list for the next five years, she doesn’t hesitate: “I really want to set up a Preservation Lab.”

“We try to evaluate our needs and to see in which direction we want to go,” she says, noting that the direction they choose would also inform what equipment the lab would house and the kinds of work the lab would specialize in. A balance needs to be struck between preventive conservation work for the general collection and the more specialized work that is required for materials in Rare Books and Special Collections. “We need specific materials to be able to perform reversible conservation work. We need to also use supplies which do not transform the object completely, but preserve the original aspect of the object, like Japanese paper or starch paste.”

As for life in Vancouver, Anne continues to make the most of it, bicycling on weekends and visiting the pool during summer, travelling, and exploring all the art available around the city. Though she doesn’t often get the chance these days, Anne also enjoys book binding in her spare time.

Anne Lama is one of UBC Library’s 2018 Employee Recognition Award winners, receiving the Employee Excellence Award for her outstanding work. Read more about the awards and this year’s recipients.

The post Meet Anne Lama, Conservator at UBC Library appeared first on About UBC Library.

Three years ago, Wendy Traas moved from Toronto, where she worked as a Liaison Librarian at the University of Toronto Mississauga, to Vancouver to take on the role of Reference Librarian at UBC’s Education Library. “BC is beautiful, and I really wanted to live somewhere beautiful. It was also the perfect role for me. I felt like Education was a great fit for what I had done before, because I’d also worked at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.”

At UBC, she works primarily with the teacher candidates who come through the Faculty of Education, as well as graduate students and educational researchers. “We do a lot of instruction in the library. In the orientation sessions that we run, students come into the library, and we want to get them immersed in our collections and give them a chance to explore what we’ve got.”

One of the most interesting parts of her role, she says, involves working closely with other educators and picking up new instructional strategies and ways to use emerging technologies. “This place is rich for those kinds of experiences and I really get recharged just hearing about other academics’ work and other fun and innovative projects.”

This year, she was able to use augmented reality (AR) as part of the Education Library’s instructional programs by setting up with unique AR targets designed to engage students in key collections and resources. The project was a successful collaboration between the Chapman Learning Commons, iSchool, and the Education Library.

“We’re also excited about community engagement with the library,” says Wendy, referring to innovative programs like the Seed Library and the Young Learner’s Library (YLL).  The Education Library is in process of developing the YLL into a flexible, multi-purpose area that addresses both a need to support joint Library/ Faculty of Education programming as well as a need to have a space that is welcoming and appropriate for local caregivers and kids. As it continues to develop, in both physical features and programming, it will also serve as a model for teacher candidates of what a contemporary school library learning commons could look like, as well as opportunities for rich learning experiences for iSchool GAAs with an interest in Children’s Librarianship as well as alternative practicum placements for Education students.

Although Wendy isn’t new to UBC anymore, she has plenty of helpful advice to any librarians who are just coming on board. “New hires should get in touch with all the other new librarians because they should know that they’re not alone,” she says, adding that she appreciates the support network that exists at UBC.

Learn more about the Education Library’s initiatives.

Wendy Traas is one of UBC Library’s 2018 Employee Recognition Award winners, receiving the Innovation Award for her outstanding work. Read more about the awards and this year’s recipients.

Most of the collections at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) are kept in what’s known as the Vault. This climate-controlled storage space is one of Hiller Goodspeed’s favourite spots to uncover hidden treasures, as he goes about his job as a Circulation, Copying and Shelving Assistant: “Just in shelving and retrieving items, I often stumble upon books, maps and photographs that I didn’t know that we had. I discover new things in the Vault all the time.”

Hiller came to UBC as a student in the Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) program at UBC iSchool, before taking on a position as a shelving assistant at RBSC in 2015. After graduating the following year, he was hired into his current role.

“I work for the most part at the circulation desk at Rare Books, and so we get students, scholars, and researchers from all over the world. I have had great conversations with people who are knowledgeable and passionate about their subject of study,” he says. “People come here and do an informal residency, where they will go through a whole collection. They will tell you bits and pieces of what they’re doing each day, as they’re packing up. It’s fascinating.”

His journey to UBC started when he bought a one-way ticket to escape the heat and humidity of Florida, and made a new home in the Pacific Northwest. He lived in Portland, Oregon, working as a designer and illustrator for three years before enrolling at UBC, moving further north. But working at UBC Library hasn’t meant he’s stopped designing—in fact, the Library has become a source of inspiration.

“I do a lot of freelance illustration work, for all kinds of people,” he says. “I think a lot of my ideas for drawings and art in general come from conversations I overhear or have myself, things I observe and, like I said, going through the Vault. Inspiration comes from everywhere and definitely working at the library has an influence on me.”

Recently, Hiller teamed up with Google Hardware Store to design elements of a pop up shop in based in Chicago and New York. “What started out as one email turned into a three-month intensive project. It was a great project to work on, and it’s always a nice complement to library life because it’s quiet here—very orderly and structured—and then at home, my desk is covered with pencils and pencil shavings and I’m drinking coffee and it’s kind of like a disorderly artist studio. The two pair very well together.”

Some of Hiller’s artwork is also currently on display in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre as part of new exhibition, curated by the Music Art and Architecture Library & Rare Books and Special Collections to showcase a selection of their 2018 acquisitions.

Learn more about the exhibition and about RBSC on our website.

Fernando Murillo worked as a Graduate Student Peer for Thesis and Dissertation Support at UBC Library’s Research Commons from September 2017 to July 2018, where he taught workshops and offered one-on-one consults.

He completed his PhD in the Faculty Education at UBC this past summer, and is now looking forward to joining a small, private university in Santiago, Chile, where he will be opening a new line of research on the study of education. From this new position, he will be able to continue the work he started at UBC and have opportunities to collaborate with professors and colleagues from UBC at an official institutional level. 

What were you doing before you came to UBC?

Before I came to UBC I was living in Chile, my home country. There, I worked for the national government in public policy making at the Ministry of Interior. I also worked as a curriculum consultant for a university that was transitioning to a competency-based curriculum. I think that, perhaps, part of that experience helped me in navigating and making decisions about the direction of my doctoral work at UBC.

What has been the most interesting part of your role at UBC Library?

One of the most interesting aspects of my job with UBC library was that it gave me the chance to meet and work with students and faculty from across the university and from so many different fields. You get to hear about work being done in areas you otherwise would have never come across, and one inevitably learns from that exposure.

Did anything surprise you about working for the Library?

Perhaps because of past experiences I always had the image of libraries being very serious and quiet environments. Instead, I felt welcomed into a genuinely caring and thoughtful group of people, and I am thankful that the people at the Research Commons trusted us—sometimes more than we trusted ourselves—to do the job and also try out new ideas.

What advice would you give to new student employees at the Library?

Don´t be afraid to bring your personal experiences to the workshops and one-on-one consultations. One of the reasons why students feel at ease coming to the library for help is because they can ask questions and get answers from their fellow graduate students, without feeling intimidated. Students seeking help can relate a lot better when they see someone approachable and who speaks from personal experience.

Nearing retirement, Eleanore Wellwood is in an interesting position when it comes to reflecting on her time at UBC, especially since that time spans more than fifty years.

Coming on board initially as a student assistant in 1966, then again in the late 1980s, Eleanore tried out a few different career paths before falling into library work. “All my academic career had been heading into international relations until I realized what it was like to be a diplomat, and I knew that wasn’t for me,” she recalls. “I wanted to do something more practical. So when I came back to UBC, it was in nutrition and food science, until I realized that in order to do anything with that, you need to go through to the PhD level.”

Instead, the Library became a welcome alternative and a comfortable fit. “I come from an academic family. Books have always been part of my life, so it wasn’t a big leap.” Starting in the 1990s until 2007, Eleanore worked as a library assistant at Interlibrary Loans and Woodward Library, before moving to Crane Library in Brock Hall, which provides resources for UBC students, faculty and staff who are blind, visually impaired, or have print disabilities.

“When I was at Crane—which I loved as well—I’d reached the point where I was close enough to retirement that I thought I would either stay there until I retired or I would make a change in my life,” she says. “All the retirement books keep saying that the worst thing about retiring is you don’t know what to do with yourself, or you’re not willing to try something new. So I thought it was now or never.”

When the position of Cataloging and Acquisitions Assistant came up at X̱wi7x̱wa Library, she decided to make a move once again. It was a huge learning curve, she remembers. “I’m from Vancouver but not Indigenous, so everything I’m learning is piling on as more and more learning.”

In her day-to-day work, she is involved in record enhancing, investigating, teaching and supervising graduate academic assistants. “We have the privilege and pleasure of enhancing the standard records so that they better reflect Indigenous approaches to knowledge.”

Now, after nearly a decade at X̱wi7x̱wa Library, Eleanore is faced with a new dilemma. “My problem is that I really love my job, so it’s hard to say that I am retiring,” she says. “It’s never the same, it’s always interesting.”

She recalls one project in particular that began shortly after she arrived at X̱wi7x̱wa, which put her cataloguing skills to the test. “When the library changed from DRA to Voyager, all our subject headings became ‘unsearchable’,” she says. “In terms of the project, it meant retyping every subject heading. But it also gave us the opportunity to examine them.” Luckily, she didn’t have to do most of the retyping, but got to dive into the examining.

When asked what has surprised her the most about UBC Library, she laughs. “When working for the library comes upon you gradually, nothing is surprising.”

Learn more about the programs and collections at X̱wi7x̱wa Library.

Eleanore Wellwood is one of UBC Library’s 2018 Employee Recognition Award winners, receiving the Unsung Hero Award for her outstanding work. Read more about the awards and this year’s recipients.

If you’ve ventured out to visit the UBC Library Map Collection in Walter C. Koerner Library recently, you will likely have met Evan Thornberry, who joined UBC Library as the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Librarian in July.

In his day-to-day, Evan answers reference questions, plans workshops, and gives class presentations, in an effort to provide support to researchers and students across campus in their spatial research. “GIS Librarians are the face of the library for all kinds of place-based or spatial research,” he explains. “I work most closely with our GIS Analyst, Paul Lesack. We tackle all of the map and GIS-related reference.”

Given UBC Library’s extensive print map and atlas collection, Evan also gets to handle plenty of paper maps. “UBC has done a really good job of retaining their paper map collection, and a lot of libraries haven’t done that. It’s likely going to grow in value to researchers,” he says.

These days, spatial research isn’t limited to the forestry and geography departments, with whom Evan often collaborates. Advances in technology have made map data more accessible. “Researchers in other departments are interested in mapping because they’re starting to see more maps out there available in digital format. They’re getting ideas about how to apply a spatial component to their research.”

To mark this transition, Evan started the GIS speaker series, Visualizing the World, which hosts talks by selected cartographers and other geo-spatial researchers. The first talk, which was held in October, featured cartographer Anton Thomas, who specializes in hand-drawn maps, while the second showcased research from medical geographer Emily Acheson, currently enrolled as a PhD candidate in Geography at UBC. “Anything can be analyzed in a spatial sense. I want the speakers’ series to illustrate that,” says Evan.

Talking about his own geographic moves, Evan relocated to Vancouver from Boston, where he looked after Boston Public library’s map collection through the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, a nonprofit organization. However, as a Western Washington University graduate, he isn’t new to the West Coast and is happy to be back in a city with a vibrant bicycling culture. He’s also started brushing up on his illustration skills: “I come from a family of artists, and I think making digitally hand-drawn maps would be fun. I appreciate the artistic value that cartographers give to their product.”

Learn more about the UBC Library Map Collection by visiting the GIS Lab at Koerner Library  

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