photo of the kelmscott press' works of geoffrey chaucer being digitized with a scanner camera

When UBC Library acquired the Kelmscott Press’ Works of Geoffrey Chaucer in August 2016, the announcement marked the successful end of a long journey to bring the book to UBC, but the book’s preservation story was just beginning.

Printed by William Morris’ Kelmscott Press in 1896, as part of a limited run of 438 copies, the book took Morris four years to design, thanks to the many elaborate illustrations and decorative borders that populate its pages. Now as one of UBC’s most valuable holdings at Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC), the book is an incredible resource for researchers and students with an interest in historic literature and the art of book design.

For UBC’s Digital Initiatives team, it was important to preserve the beauty bound in the book’s pages in a digital format to create even wider access. Digitizing the Kelmscott Chaucer was challenging because the book is tightly bound and has small gutters (the blank spaces surrounding a book’s type area). A scanner with a top-notch digital camera back was used to capture the intricate detailing on each page.

With the digitization complete, the book is now available to read online, as a treasured addition to UBC Library’s Open Collections. To celebrate the occasion, UBC Library has created a free digital colouring book, featuring 25 beautiful illustrations from Kelmscott’s Chaucer.

Download your copy of UBC Library’s Kelmscott Chaucer Digital Colouring Book and check out more photos from the digitizing process on Flickr.

Photos of letter, postcard and photos

From upper left corner: photo of Yosh Nakamura (July 1942); postcard from Setsuko Fuji to Joan Gillis (May 17, 1943); letter from Yosh Nakamura to Joan Gillis (July 25 1942); photo of young woman, Setsuko Fuji; and photo of Yosh Nakamura, Jackie Takahashi and friend on a tractor.

UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections has acquired an extraordinary collection of letters that provide unique insight into the devastating effects of the Japanese Canadian internment during World War II.

The collection of 147 letters, written to donor Joan Gillis in 1942 by a group of young Japanese Canadians she met while attending Queen Elizabeth Secondary School in Surrey, talk of daily life and the challenges faced by these young people after being ordered out of the “Security Zone” on the B.C. coast, and are filled with frequent references to acute homesickness and sadness at being removed from their homes. The writers range in age from 13 to 18. Some were very close friends with Gillis, while others were casual acquaintances.

Laura Ishiguro, an historian of Canada and the British Empire at UBC, said the letters will be an important teaching tool at UBC, contributing to new and better interpretations in classroom discussions about the internment of Japanese Canadians.

“Existing narratives around the internment tend to focus on Japanese Canadian people in isolation from others, or on the ideas and actions of major government figures, with the Japanese Canadian community rendered largely faceless victims of tragedy,” said Ishiguro. “With these letters, my students and I could explore a different war-time history from the perspective of young people.”

Henry Yu, a professor in the UBC history department, said the letters provide a window into the lives of school children going through a traumatic time in B.C.’s history.

“One of the most effective ways for people to understand the devastating effects of the forcible removal of over approximately 23,000 Japanese Canadians in 1942 and their subsequent exile through the sale of their property and possessions is not in the abstract numbers that measure their monetary loss or the numbers of people dispossessed and exiled, but in the rare and raw moments when we can see the effects through the eyes of those who suffered them,” said Yu. “Letters such as those sent to Ms. Gillis from school friends are so powerful precisely because of the authentic reality that they express of school children’s experience of the trauma, shared with a trusted friend.”

Letter from Masao Ujiye to Joan Gillis, 9 October 1943.

UBC Library is pleased to be able to add this unique acquisition to its robust Japanese Canadian Research collection that includes materials on business and commerce, mining, farming, fishing, forestry, religious activities, education, community, reminiscences and biographies in addition to materials on the Japanese Canadian evacuation.

“These letters provide a unique and important perspective on the Japanese-Canadian internment from the voices of youth,” said Krisztina Laszlo, archivist at Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library. “We’re thrilled that the letters are coming to RBSC and that UBC faculty, students and the community will be able to use them for research and teaching.  It’s a wonderful resource and we’re proud to act as their caretaker.”

The letters, which make up approximately 300-350 pages, can be viewed in person by visiting Rare Book and Special Collections or by booking a tour.

 

UBC Library has now completed its Harry Potter collection of original first editions with the recent acquisition of a U.K. first edition, first printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The library’s Rare Books and Special Collections department has been building a collection of first edition Harry Potter books since spring 2015 as part of the Arkley Collection of Early Historical Children’s Literature, which is focused on popular works.

“As the most popular children’s literature series in several generations, with global impact equaling Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Harry Potter is an important series in the children’s literature canon,” says Chelsea Shriver, UBC Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian.

Although the first Harry Potter book was published just over 20 years ago, the U.K. first edition, first printing is rare and difficult to obtain. The original print run was only 500 copies, 300 of which went directly into libraries and were never intended for sale. The latest book in the collection was purchased with money from a number of library collections funds including endowments and donations from a 2017 crowdfunding campaign.

“We are proud to join the ranks of institutions such as Princeton, Yale, the British Library, and Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries in bringing this very scarce book to UBC,” says Katherine Kalsbeek Head of Rare Books and Special Collections. “Collecting and preserving the Harry Potter series will ensure that scarce first and special editions of these works can be properly cared for and made accessible for future generations.”

UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections offers weekly drop-in tours every Wednesday, for students, faculty, and the general public to come in and see the collections in person.

You have probably walked by it, maybe even seen a sign or poster inviting you in, but if you haven’t yet discovered the magic that is Rare Books & Special Collections located on Level 1 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, you are missing out. Rare Books & Special Collections houses significant collections of rare books, archival materials, historic maps and photographs and it’s open to all UBC students, staff and faculty and the general public.

The collection is extensive, and it would take several lifetimes to see the all the treasures available to you as a UBC student so, we’ve created a list of highlights to use when you stop by for a visit.

Here are five items to see before you graduate.  

The first item ever printed in the city of Vancouver

photo of the front page of the Vancouver weekly herald and North pacific news

 

The first edition of The Vancouver Weekly Herald and North Pacific News was published on Friday, January 15, 1886 when the population of Vancouver hovered at about 1000. This is the only surviving copy of Vancouver’s first newspaper and it provides amazing insight into what was happening in the city at that time. 

Canadian Pacific Railway Ads

Banff Lake Louise Region Canadian pacific railway ad with illustration of a skier

 

Maybe some of the most iconic pieces of Canadiana, our vibrant Canadian Pacific Railway advertisements are a must-see for anyone interested in art and design. The posters, that were created out of the C.P.R.’s silkscreen studio in Montreal, are part of our Chung Collection that holds one of the largest research collections on the Canadian Pacific Railway Company as well as a huge collection of Chinese Canadian historical content. Dr. Chung was first inspired to collect items on the subject of the Canadian Pacific Railway company when as a young boy he saw a poster of the Empress of Asia in his father’s tailor shop.  His collection started modestly, with newspaper clippings and scrapbooks, but has now grown to thousands of rare and sometimes unique items.

Letters written and signed by Darwin. Yes, that Darwin.

Letter written by Charles Darwin

 

Two of our most exciting collections at RBSC are collections of letters written to and by Charles Darwin, the well-known evolutionary biologist and originator of the concept of natural selection. The image above is from a group of about forty letters written between Charles Darwin and John Scott Burdon Sanderson from 1873 to 1881 and deal with the research Darwin and Burdon Sanderson were conducting on the digestive powers and leaf movements of insect-eating plants. Darwin published the results of this research as part of his book Insectivorous Plants (1875).

The Dali Alice

First page of the Dali Alice

 

Surrealist artist Salvador Dali’s interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a literary and artistic treasure that is not to be missed. You can even take a closer look at the original woodcut remarques (a small vignette image in the margin of a print, often related thematically to the main image) that are stored in a linen and leather case.

A model of Douglas Coupland’s Digital Orca

model of digital orca sculpture by Douglas Coupland

 

If you live Vancouver, you’ve undoubtedly seen the stunning 25-foot-tall sculpture of the Digital Orca next to the Vancouver Convention Centre. The powder coated aluminum sculpture built on a stainless steel frame was created by Canadian novelist and artist Douglas Coupland in 2009. You can take closer look at the Digital Orca at Rare Books & Special Collections, but on a much smaller scale; the model of the sculpture is just one of the many interesting items in the Douglas Coupland fonds.

Join us for a VIP tour of Rare Books & Special Collections on Wednesday February 14 at 11 a.m. Reserve your spot.

 

You have probably walked by it, maybe even seen a sign or poster inviting you in, but if you haven’t yet discovered the magic that is Rare Books & Special Collections located on Level 1 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, you are missing out. Rare Books & Special Collections houses significant collections of rare books, archival materials, historic maps and photographs and it’s open to all UBC students, staff and faculty and the general public.

The collection is extensive, and it would take several lifetimes to see the all the treasures available to you as a UBC student so, we’ve created a list of highlights to use when you stop by for a visit.

Here are five items to see before you graduate.  

The first item ever printed in the city of Vancouver

photo of the front page of the Vancouver weekly herald and North pacific news

 

The first edition of The Vancouver Weekly Herald and North Pacific News was published on Friday, January 15, 1886 when the population of Vancouver hovered at about 1000. This is the only surviving copy of Vancouver’s first newspaper and it provides amazing insight into what was happening in the city at that time. 

Canadian Pacific Railway Ads

Banff Lake Louise Region Canadian pacific railway ad with illustration of a skier

 

Maybe some of the most iconic pieces of Canadiana, our vibrant Canadian Pacific Railway advertisements are a must-see for anyone interested in art and design. The posters, that were created out of the C.P.R.’s silkscreen studio in Montreal, are part of our Chung Collection that holds one of the largest research collections on the Canadian Pacific Railway Company as well as a huge collection of Chinese Canadian historical content. Dr. Chung was first inspired to collect items on the subject of the Canadian Pacific Railway company when as a young boy he saw a poster of the Empress of Asia in his father’s tailor shop.  His collection started modestly, with newspaper clippings and scrapbooks, but has now grown to thousands of rare and sometimes unique items.

Letters written and signed by Darwin. Yes, that Darwin.

Letter written by Charles Darwin

 

Two of our most exciting collections at RBSC are collections of letters written to and by Charles Darwin, the well-known evolutionary biologist and originator of the concept of natural selection. The image above is from a group of about forty letters written between Charles Darwin and John Scott Burdon Sanderson from 1873 to 1881 and deal with the research Darwin and Burdon Sanderson were conducting on the digestive powers and leaf movements of insect-eating plants. Darwin published the results of this research as part of his book Insectivorous Plants (1875).

The Dali Alice

First page of the Dali Alice

 

Surrealist artist Salvador Dali’s interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a literary and artistic treasure that is not to be missed. You can even take a closer look at the original woodcut remarques (a small vignette image in the margin of a print, often related thematically to the main image) that are stored in a linen and leather case.

A model of Douglas Coupland’s Digital Orca

model of digital orca sculpture by Douglas Coupland

 

If you live Vancouver, you’ve undoubtedly seen the stunning 25-foot-tall sculpture of the Digital Orca next to the Vancouver Convention Centre. The powder coated aluminum sculpture built on a stainless steel frame was created by Canadian novelist and artist Douglas Coupland in 2009. You can take closer look at the Digital Orca at Rare Books & Special Collections, but on a much smaller scale; the model of the sculpture is just one of the many interesting items in the Douglas Coupland fonds.

Join us for a VIP tour of Rare Books & Special Collections on Wednesday February 14 at 11 a.m. Reserve your spot.

 

Date: January 16 to February 13, 2018
Location: UBC Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Level 2 Foyer (1961 East Mall) (map)
Hours: same as the IKBLC building hours (see hours)

Join us for a new exhibition highlighting a selection of Rare Books and Special Collection’s 2017 acquisitions, including books, documents, diaries, ephemera, photographs, artworks, and more!

 

 

The Rare Books and Special Collections reading room is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm. For more information, please contact RBSC at 604-822-2521 or at rare.books@ubc.ca.

Date: January 16 to February 13, 2018
Location: UBC Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Level 2 Foyer (1961 East Mall) (map)
Hours: same as the IKBLC building hours (see hours)

Join us for a new exhibition highlighting a selection of Rare Books and Special Collection’s 2017 acquisitions, including books, documents, diaries, ephemera, photographs, artworks, and more!

 

 

The Rare Books and Special Collections reading room is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm. For more information, please contact RBSC at 604-822-2521 or at rare.books@ubc.ca.

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