Fonds UBCA-ARC-1230 - Library fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Library fonds

General material designation

  • Multiple media

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  • Source of title proper: The title is based on the contents of the fonds

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Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

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Statement of scale (architectural)

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Physical description area

Physical description

64.58 m of textual records and other material.

Publisher's series area

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Archival description area

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Administrative history

Provisions for a library at the University of British Columbia were first made in 1914, one year before opening its doors at the old Fairview campus. President Frank F. Wesbrook secured the services of J.T. Gerould to select and purchase books for the Library. In 1914 John Ridington was hired to catalogue the Library's collections, and in 1916 was appointed UBC's first University Librarian. He saw the collection grow from 700 to 125,000 volumes during his tenure. Ridington also oversaw the move of the collections in 1925 from Fairview to the new Library at the Point Grey campus. He was succeeded by W. Kaye Lamb (1940-1948), Anne Smith (1948-1949, 1951, acting), Leslie W. Dunlap (1949-1951), Neal Harlow (1951-1961), Samuel Rothstein (1961-1962, acting), Jim Ranz (1962-1963), Basil Stuart-Stubbs (1964-1982), Douglas McInnes (1982-1989), William Watson (1989-1990, acting), Ruth Patrick (1990-1997), Catherine Quinlan (1998-2007), Peter Ward (2007-2009, pro tem), Ingrid Parent (2009-2016), Melody Burton (2016-2017, acting), and Susan Parker (2017- ). In recent years Assistant University Librarians and Deputy University Librarians have also been appointed, with specific areas of responsibility. A north wing was added to the Library building in 1948, and a south wing in 1960. The Library's growth led to reorganizing its collections and public services into subject-based divisions in 1960. In addition, a process of decentralization was begun in 1952 with the opening of the Bio-Medical Branch Library at Vancouver General Hospital. A three-million-dollar donation by industrialist H.R. Macmillan in 1965 significantly enhanced the size of the Library's collections, which by the 1990s had grown to over three million books. A more comprehensive decentralization plan, implemented in the 1960s, created a large and dispersed system which by 1999 consisted of two central libraries (Main Library and the Walter C. Koerner Library), thirteen public service branches and divisions, and eight internal service divisions. After the construction and reconstruction of Main Library, which began in 2003, the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, housing Library collections and operations and classrooms, study areas, and administrative space, was opened in 2008.
As of 2008, the UBC Library consists of 19 branches and divisions, located in facilities at the Point Grey campus, Robson Square in Vancouver, three Vancouver hospitals (St. Paul's, Vancouver Hospital & Health Sciences Centre, and Children's and Women's Health Centre), and UBC-Okanagan. The Library continues to provide access to recorded knowledge and information – in books, periodicals, manuscripts, audio-visual materials, and electronic media – to students, faculty, and the surrounding community.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records generated by the UBC Library and its branches and divisions, and includes correspondence (both internal and external), reports, minutes, memorandums, notes, budgets and other financial records, architectural plans and drawings, published materials, scrapbooks, publicity materials, photographs, and projects. The records are arranged in sous-fonds based on branches and divisions represented by the records. They are the Librarian's Office, Acquisition Division, Data Library, Extension Library, Gifts and Exchanges Division, Reference Division, Sedgewick Library, Special Collections Division, Woodward Library, PATSCAN, Fine Arts Division, Information Services, Technical Services, MacMillan Library, Science and Engineering Division, Binding Department, Crane Library, Koerner Library, Asian Library, the Reading Rooms Division, Facilities and Preservation, and X̱wi7x̱wa Library. Also included are some records from the McGill University College of B.C. Library, pre-dating the establishment of UBC and its Library.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The records from the UBC Library have been received in a number of separate accessions from a variety of sources over the years.


Initially the various accessions were primarily arranged by the tenures of successive University Librarians and Assistant University Librarians, as well as by branches and divisions, and inventoried and stored separately. However by 1999 this practice had proved too unwieldy, and the fonds was physically re-organized into one body with a single inventory.

Language of material

Script of material

Location of originals

Architectural drawings are located in the Archives vault cabinet 1, drawers 10, 11 & 13. Cabinet 2, drawers 9 & 15. Descriptions of these drawings are available as an appendix to the finding aid. The Sedgewick & Koerner Library sous-fonds drawings are not described.

Availability of other formats

Some UBC Library drawings have been digitized and are available online. Other Library architectural drawings have been digitized from the Thompson, Berwick, Pratt & Partners fonds.

Selected photographs have been digitized and included in UBC Library's Open Collections UBC 76.1

Restrictions on access

These are institutional records and subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Researcher access to these records is subject to review. To organize access please contact us at UBC Archives.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Online Finding Aid
Please see the finding aid for the file list.

Uploaded finding aid

Associated materials

Please the Thompson, Berwick, Pratt & Partners fonds for more Library architectural drawings.


Further accruals are expected.

General note

For a more comprehensive history of the UBC Library refer to Scrapbook for a Golden Anniversary 1915-1965, and Golden Scrapbook; The Centennial Update 1965-2015. See also University Librarians' Annual Reports.

General note

Please be aware that researchers will encounter terms that are no longer acceptable. In instances where these terms are used in the original titles, they have not been changed.

Physical description

Includes: 196 architectural plans, 381 photographs, 8 videotapes, 3 DVDs, 3 CD-ROMs.

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Accession area