To view the full photo gallery of UBC Library throughout the years, click here to visit the UBC100.ca website.
Academic university libraries have come a long way since the early days of the card catalogue system, microfiches and rows of book stacks. Driven by advances in technology, and the changing needs of students and faculty, the libraries of today are evolving into community spaces that encourage collaboration, engagement and innovation.
In many ways, UBC Library’s core function remains the same. Students flock to its nine locations to borrow materials from its extensive collections; they meet other students for group study in various meeting rooms; and they connect with more than 50 librarians on staff for assistance with their research needs.
Today. UBC Library is reaching more people than ever, on a variety of platforms.
“UBC’s Library opened in 1915 and was serving 9,300 students in a single building by the 1940s,” said Ingrid Parent, university librarian for UBC. “Today, we serve more than 59,000 students, and a growing campus and community population.”
The transformation of the library into an information hub has been underway for years. Today, study rooms are outfitted with whiteboards and LCD projectors. At the circulation desk, laptops, iPads and phone chargers are checked out at a high frequency. Librarians interact with faculty and students not just in classrooms and in-person, but also through virtual chat, email and social media. The physical environment of library spaces has become less about book stacks and more inclusive of specialized computer labs, reading nooks and “learning commons”-style pavilions where students access a range of services such as peer coaching, tutoring and writing workshops.
Rapid changes in technology have led the library to move its collections online, offering more than seven million items, including 1.4 million e-books and 229,000 journal titles. Moving to a digital environment has also allowed the library to find new users throughout B.C., Canada and around the world. Scholars near and far can explore the library’s digital collections via its website and access the university’s research through cIRcle, its institutional repository.
“Libraries are no longer just about access, but about knowledge creation and distribution,” said Parent. “Librarians continue to work closely with students and faculty, and are an important resource for discipline-based information, as well as for emerging areas such as copyright and data management.”