University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is a public research University and global centre for research and teaching located in British Columbia, Canada. It is consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world.
UBC Library is the second largest research library system in Canada. Established in 1915, it has more than twenty branches and divisions, including the UBC Okanagan Library.

Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) is home to outstanding research collections of rare books, pamphlets, photographs, archival resources and historic maps. The main area of specialization is British Columbiana but other major collections include: Pacific and Arctic exploration, the history of cartography, the history of medicine, Canadian literature, English Victorian literature and early Children’s literature. Author collections include Robert Burns, Aldous Huxley, Malcolm Lowry and George Woodcock.

As the premier rare book collection on Canada’s west coast, RBSC has also attracted significant donations of early printed books and manuscripts from people who have settled in western Canada from around the world. Topics as wide-ranging as spirituality, philosophy, politics, music, lexicography, science and literature are represented in its pre-1650 holdings. Languages represented most frequently among these works are: Latin, English, French, German, Italian and Chinese.

As funding permits, RBSC undertakes to build on its collections of early works through purchases, thereby seeking to enrich its contribution to the University’s scholarship in medieval and renaissance studies, including all aspects of history, literature, arts and sciences. In recent years, the division has embarked on building a medieval manuscript teaching collection.

Finally, in the interests of sharing our collections ever more broadly a number of RBSC’s western manuscripts and early printed books have been digitized and are now available through the Library’s Open Collections platform, primarily those dating from the 13th to the 17th century. This digital collection provides free and open access to all researchers around the world.



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