Uncovering the Treasure

UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 7 | Jul.
3, 2003

By Cristina Calboreanu

From 17th-century Japanese roadmaps to the works of the early
Vancouver bookbinders, the Rare Books and Special Collections
Division of the UBC Library holds invaluable treasures. Many
are still waiting to be revealed.

From the more than 100,000 books in his care, Rare Books
and Special Collections librarian Ralph Stanton is particularly
fond of a Victorian notebook that scholars have yet to discover.

“It was my first important acquisition here,” he
It’s also a unique historical and linguistic record.

According to Stanton, the holograph of The Thompson liturgy,
offices, regimen & lists & c., dated 1873, is a remarkable
rarity. Rev. John Booth Good, the Anglican minister at St.
Paul’s Mission in Lytton, B.C. transliterated parts of
the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, passages from the Bible,
and hymns, into the local Neklakapamuk tongue. He also included
a list of the villages, chiefs, and watchmen of the mission.

The manuscript has been at UBC for more than a year.
“We’re awaiting scholars to start working on this
book,” Stanton says. “It’s an invaluable resource
for linguists and historians of the church and Native relations
and it’s the faculty’s job to exploit this resource.”

The Thompson liturgy is not the only treasure in the UBC
collection waiting to be discovered.

“The public doesn’t fully appreciate how exceptional
this collection is,” Stanton says.

While the community has been generous, financial and staff
resources are still stretched. Cataloguing the items is a
major task and digitization efforts are just beginning. Exhibition
and user space is limited.

The new Irving K. Barber Learning Centre will solve some
of these problems. Stanton is working with the architects
and designers to ensure that the new facility is “as
useful to the university community as it can be.” The
new exhibition space will be far superior in terms of lighting
and presentation, and the new display cases will allow the
public to view the exhibits from two different angles. Stanton
hopes the new learning centre will make the library resources
more readily available to scholars and the public.

“We have endless treasures here,” he says. Treasures
waiting to be shared.