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“We’re trying to make the complex appear simple,” says Tara Stephens-Kyte, a Digital Repository Librarian at cIRcle who knows exactly how much work goes on behind-the-scenes at UBC’s institutional repository to create that seamless experience for content creators.

What started as a pilot project in 2007, has become the central digital archive for published and unpublished works of scholarly research and open educational materials created by members of the UBC community and its partners. While cIRcle is a technology-driven unit within UBC Library, relying on open source software like DSpace and other automated tools like Archivematica to preserve their collections, the work is undoubtedly people-focused as the human services provided by the team are key to its success.

The small team, which includes Stephens-Kyte, Digital Repository Librarian Amber Saundry and Digital Repository Specialist Kelly Gauvin, means each member wears many hats. Together, they offer one-on-one support to UBC researchers and others who opt to deposit their scholarly outputs in cIRcle.

“We’re trying to make it easy for people to access the content and to also provide a holistic search experience for the library’s digital collections,” says Stephens-Kyte, noting that for their mediated deposit service, they do a lot of consults with content creators on metadata standards and licensing. “For some people, that’s the first time they’ve ever really thought about the ownership of their content. And a lot of that conversation comes in the context of us asking for permission to distribute the content, and thinking about where that content lives and what happens with it once a project is done.”

This academic year especially, the work at cIRcle has not only increased but taken on a new level of importance for UBC faculty, staff and students. As conferences were cancelled starting in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Stephens-Kyte notes that there was an increased uptake in deposit submissions as there was now an abundance of research activity that suddenly had no outlet: “Now, I think it’s more about people coming to terms with the idea that there may be more permanent changes to the way that we do research, talk about research and connect.”

According to their Impact and Activity Report for 2019/20, cIRcle celebrated a major milestone with 70k open access items now available in their collections. Notably, faculty deposits have been increasing year-over-year, with more than 2.3k deposits of faculty, researcher and postdoctoral materials in the past fiscal year alone.

But it’s the community-partner projects that cIRcle has supported this year that signal real change, like the Downtown Eastside Research Access Portal (DTES RAP), which launched in October as a collaboration led by the Making Research Accessible initiative (MRAi), a partnership between the UBC Learning Exchange and UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

“We expanded our acquisition policies to support that,” notes Stephens-Kyte. “It’s a project of such local significance, it’s so important to our community and the work that UBC does. So to me, that’s the kind of work that I think an open access repository can really foster, support and encourage.”

Learn more about adding scholarly content to cIRcle by visiting their website.

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

Learn more about our Strategic Framework.

The Library has launched a print pick-up service to enable UBC students, faculty and staff to submit print jobs to be picked up from the front desk at the Irving K. Barber Learning front desk during open hours, without booking a study space.

It was October 2019 and the first round of Open Educational Resources Fund grants hadn’t yet been awarded, but Erin Fields, Open Education and Scholarly Communications Librarian, and her student team were ready to get started with Open Education Resource (OER) publishing.

“[That project] was a really great test case for us to figure out what kind of support a faculty member would need to go from some Word documents with content to an actual published text,” recalls Erin Fields, Open Education and Scholarly Communications Librarian.

Erin Fields, Open Education and Scholarly Communications Librarian at UBC Library.

Creating an open text is no simple task, but for some faculty and instructors, it’s the best solution when the resources they need for their courses don’t exist.

“We just could not find [a text] that really fit the objectives or the spirit of my course. So, rather than giving students a stack of references to sift through, I decided to develop my own textbook,” says Dr. Chelsea Himsworth, Assistant Professor at the UBC School of Population and Public Health and lead author of  The Mission, the Message, and the Medium: Science and Risk Communication in a Complex World. “When I saw how much the students loved the textbook I was hooked! So I went back to the library so I could get the training and mentorship I needed to expand and improve the textbook on an ongoing basis. The library also opened my eyes to the world of OER. This led me to a successful grant application to improve my text and prep it for public offering.”

Amanda Grey, Open Education Student Librarian at UBC Library.

Fields’ student team helps faculty and instructors through the entire phased process, helping with copyright standards, Creative Commons licensing, metadata, and more using PressBooks as their online publishing platform, with access provided by BCcampus.

Since then, the library has created a catalogue of open texts from UBC, ranging in subject matter from chemistry to French language studies. Working alongside Fields, Open Education Student Librarian Amanda Grey has played a large role in the success of the open textbook initiative and handles much of the daily support for the library’s PressBooks projects.

“Erin and Amanda are amazing professionals. They were always accessible via Zoom and email,” says Dr. Somayeh Kamranian, Sessional Instructor in the UBC Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies and lead author of Let’s Read French Books. “They were present, in all the aspects of creation of this textbook.”

With most UBC classes now online, the demand for Open Educational Resources has only increased, along with an appetite for collaborative projects. Laboratory Manual for Introduction to Physical, First British Columbia Edition involved faculty and subject matter experts from UBC Vancouver, UBC Okanagan, Simon Fraser University, Capilano University, for use in first year physical geography courses.

“It was a fantastic example of what you can do across institutions when you work together,” says Fields, adding that it also illustrated how open education can support instructors engaged in remote learning.

For those considering the plunge into Open Education Resource (OER) publishing, UBC Library has plenty of resources available including The Open Textbook Publishing Guide, as well as two upcoming webinars that introduce participants to the open text publishing process. Faculty and instructors interested in booking a consultation can contact Erin Fields (erin.fields@ubc.ca) for more information.

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

Learn more about our Strategic Framework.


UBC students, faculty and staff now have remote access to more than 80 UBC Library computer workstations for academic instructional use. Users can connect, using CWL and password to desktop computers in four UBC Library labs.

Access to these workstations, which include PCs and Macs, is especially critical to those who require specialized software and high-performing machines to pursue their research.

“It is hugely impactful for students to be able to access high power machines that they likely wouldn’t be able to access or afford otherwise — especially at this time,” says Eka Grguric, Digital Scholarship Librarian, “Access to the right tools at the right time is critical to student success.” 

Among the computers available are the seventeen powerful machines located in the Digital Scholarship Lab in the UBC Library Research Commons which boast a comprehensive list of specialty software. “Even providing access to something like Oxygen XML editor is a show of support to under-resourced projects on campus that are used to provisioning their own tools,” she adds.

Evan Thornberry, Map and GIS Librarian is pleased that students now have access to the six computers located in the GIS Lab in the Research Commons. “Many of the software available on these computers cannot be easily provisioned on personal computers. With the virtual machines, we are able to provide access to specialized proprietary software like Esri’s ArcGIS 24 hours a day.”

Users can also gain access to more than 40 Mac public computer workstations and nearly 200 PC public computer workstations across several library branches.

“Being a student is difficult enough with the challenges that the COVID-19 outbreak has introduced to the new academic year.  Providing remote access to library computer labs allows us to honour the library’s strategic direction to provide technology-rich spaces that enable experimentation and encourage creative approaches for our faculty and students,” says Allan Bell, Associate University Librarian, Digital Programs and Services.

Access remote computers at UBC Library.

Learn more about the software available in the UBC Library Research Commons’ Data/GIS Lab.

Learn more about the software available in the UBC Library Research Commons’ Digital Scholarship Lab*

Learn more about the software available in the Woodward Library lab.

*Due to licensing restrictions, Adobe Creative Cloud software is not available remotely.

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

Learn more about our Strategic Framework.

As of September 15, 2020, UBC Library is eliminating daily overdue fines on books, journals and audio-visual (AV) materials for all library users. This policy shift will help users make the most of the library’s extensive physical collections without the added worry of incurring fees on items that aren’t in immediate demand.

Due to COVID-19, it is currently not possible to borrow Course Reserve loans, Interlibrary loans, and electronics such as laptops and other equipment from the library; however, when loans for these high-demand items resume, overdue fees will continue to apply.

Fines for materials that are overdue and have a recall placed on them will remain. Fines on recalled items start the day the item is overdue, not the day the recall was placed. Fines for materials deemed lost will also remain in effect.

For books, journals and AV materials that are not listed as Course Reserves, library users will receive an email reminder three days prior to the item’s due date. An overdue notice will be sent by email after one day and again at 7 days overdue. No fees will accumulate during this time. Once an item is 28 days overdue, it will be deemed lost and a lost charge notice will be sent. If the item is returned, the lost charge will be dropped.

For more details on the new fee structure, please visit the library’s Loan Policies and Fines webpage.

The space will be available Monday-Saturday, include access to desktop computers, printing and scanning and be organized to ensure safe physical distancing at all times.
UBC Library’s annual Senate Report (2019/20) is now available. Read our highlights from the past fiscal year which include advancing research, learning and scholarship, engaging with communities, creating and delivering responsive collections, inspiring with innovative spaces and services, and stewarding the organization.
GIScience is a new UBC Library Research Commons workshop series (July 30 to August 14) for graduate students who want to develop their digital scholarship skills.

As part of our efforts to make our collections more easily accessible during this time, UBC Library is excited to announce our participation in the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS).

Through this service, UBC students, faculty and staff will have access to nearly 750,000 digitized items from UBC Library’s print collections, as well as continued access to more than 6.7 million public domain and Creative Commons-licensed works in the HathiTrust Digital Library.

HathiTrust is a not-for-profit collaborative of academic and research libraries that provides access to a digital preservation repository with lawful access to more than 17 million digitized items. Earlier this spring, HathiTrust introduced its Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS), which allows students, faculty, and staff from eligible member libraries to have online reading access to materials that are physically unavailable due to restrictions accessing print collections during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service is a huge benefit for UBC Students and Faculty continuing their research and studies, providing digital access to approximately 750K items held in UBC Library’s print collections unavailable anywhere else,” says Sheldon Armstrong, UBC Library’s Associate University Librarian, Collections.

How does this service work?

  • Only those books that HathiTrust has verified as belonging to UBC Library’s print collections will be accessible through the service.
  • While the ETAS is operational, physical copies of UBC Library books held in ETAS will not be available for order through UBC Library’s Materials Pick-up service. The number of copies available through HathiTrust for each book coincides with the number of print copies UBC Library owns in its print collections.
  • When checking out an item, users will have 60 minutes of access to the book during any session. If users remain active in the book during any session, access time will be extended.
  • HathiTrust enables reading access to the book online, within a web browser. Books checked out through HathiTrust cannot be downloaded in full; however, individual pages may be downloaded.
  • Only UBC Library students, faculty, and staff are permitted access to eligible items when logged-in to HathiTrust.
  • Once access to UBC Library’s print collections is fully reinstated, access to in-copyright materials through this service will end.

How to access the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service

  • The Library has incorporated HathiTrust ETAS links to digitized copies of print titles into its catalogue.
  • Click on the orange Online Access button in a record for an item, this will lead to a CWL Authentication login page. Once the login is successful (duo authentication is required), the user will proceed to the title in HathiTrust ETAS.
  • Click on either “Catalog Record” or “Temporary Access.”
    • If more than one volume or copy has been digitized, “Catalog Record” will need to be clicked first. From the following screen click on “Temporary Access” (the Institution where the digital copy was created will be listed).
    • If only one item has been digitized, “Temporary Access” appears right away, and you can click there immediately.
  • From the next screen a yellow banner at the top of the screen will read “Access to this work is provided throught the Emergency Temporary Access Service.
  • Click the “Check Out” button.


  • From anywhere on the HathiTrust website, click the yellow LOG IN
  • Find and select “University of British Columbia” in the list of partner institutions.
  • Log in with your CWL login and password.
  • When you have successfully logged in, you will be returned to the HathiTrust website.
  • Enter your search terms in the search bar and select the “Search HathiTrust” button to submit your search.

Get started by visiting the HathiTrust website now. If you have questions about the service or require support, please contact Sheldon Armstrong (sheldon.armstrong@ubc.ca).

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

Learn more about our Strategic Framework.

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