UBC celebrates opening of Special Collections Room

Chief Librarian Heather Berringer (left) and librarian Arielle Lomness

Library dedicates space to document region’s history, literature, and culture

The Okanagan campus library is now home to a Special Collections Room—a unique area dedicated primarily to books and materials that relate specifically to the life and history of the Okanagan.

Thanks to donor funding, co-op student Grant Hurley worked to identify materials appropriate for a regional Okanagan special collection.

“Grant was able to analyze our existing holdings and determine which materials—and what specific geographic areas—would be most appropriate for a collection of this type, says Chief Librarian Heather Berringer. “In order to successfully develop a comprehensive collection for a specific region, it is critical to keep it highly focused.”

Once guidelines were established, UBC Okanagan librarians consulted librarians from other institutions including Okanagan College, the University of Northern BC, Thompson Rivers University, and Selkirk College to compare notes, ensuring that UBC Okanagan’s compilation would complement existing collections.

UBC also developed a collections policy that identifies what materials belong in a regional “Okanagan” special collection, analyzed existing holdings—both in the Okanagan and Vancouver collections, and began its bibliographic analysis of the body of publication by Okanagan authors or those relating to the Okanagan Valley.

In collaboration with colleagues in UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections unit, materials were transferred between the Okanagan and Vancouver campuses.

“UBC Okanagan as an institution, is committed not only to research but also to its community, developing space and collections to recognize the history, literature, culture, and evolution of the Okanagan Valley,” says Berringer. “We have an important role to play in the preservation and navigation of these collections, in order to ensure that they are available for future generations.”

Berringer says things became even more exciting when the library caught the attention of a donor through the Vancouver Foundation, who provided funding for the redevelopment of an existing room in the library to house and display the special collections. Local historian Sharron Simpson also donated a significant archival collection of books, photographs, textual documents, and artifacts. These items relate to the Simpson family sawmills and fruit packing facilities in the Okanagan.

“We are incredibly grateful for the donor support we received to complete this very special project. It would not have been possible without the interest and engagement of our community and these external partners, and we look forward to continued collaboration as we further develop these collections and related programs,adds Berringer.

These new collections will be joining the more than seven million print and electronic items already available throughout UBC’s library system.