Access to Materials

In most libraries, researchers can walk through the stacks (bookshelves) and can browse for items.

Students, faculty, visiting scholars, researchers, and members of the general public are welcome to consult material in the Rare Books and Special Collections  reading room in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

To browse and search for holdings, researchers use the UBC Library Catalogue and archival descriptions in finding aids and indexes. Inventories (in both paper and on-line format), research guides, and on-line databases are also available. Once you’ve located your item(s) of interest, you request materials. The collections are non-circulating and are used only in designated reading rooms.

Materials must be handled with care. Please do not mark them or erase existing marks. When taking notes, use only pencil – accidental ink-marks can be caused by even the most careful patrons, and marks from pens cannot be removed from materials without damaging them. Also, please do not use paper-clips, tape, “Post-It” notes, or rubber bands. As in most other areas of the Library, eating, drinking, and smoking are not allowed.

New users  should be aware that Rare Books and Special Collections is a closed-stack area. Browsing is not permitted, and all materials are non-circulating. Exceptions may be made for offices or persons requiring the use of material which they have transferred or donated to the Rare Books and Special Collections, provided they receive prior approval. Please contact Katherine Kalsbeek, Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian, for more information.


All researchers must fill out a registration form. The form should be filled out during the researcher’s first visit. The following identification will be requested upon each visit.


  • affiliated with UBC should use their UBC Library Card
  • unaffiliated with UBC must register for a RBSC Community Card
  • present staff with two piece of identification (e.g, Driver’s License) while consulting materials


Service Limits on Research

Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) staff are available to assist researchers in locating archival or published material, to advise on research questions and to carry out copying requests. To contact a RBSC staff member, please see our directory.

Requests from researchers of a librarian or archivist to conduct in-depth research fall outside the scope of work we are able to carry out. For example, we are unable to accept requests to search archival fonds or collections for all material related to a person/subject area or date range. Similarly, we are unable to carry out copying requests that do not indicate specific items/files in an archival collection. If you are not able to come to RBSC yourself, you may wish to hire an independent consultant to conduct research on your behalf.

The following links are intended to help you locate a researcher. (Please be aware that RBSC cannot guarantee the work of the service providers listed here.)

Independent research consultants


Rare Books and Special Collections librarians and archivists are available to make presentations based on their areas of expertise. They are also available to assist professors to present classes in the RBSC seminar room by suggesting books or other resources that will help support the lecture, educational goal, or syllabus. In any case, the librarian or archivist will be present at the class to assist the professor and students. It is customary procedure for the librarian or archivist to spend a few minutes at the beginning of the class to explain the correct handling of rare books and archival materials. All classes should be booked at least a week in advance. No pack sacks, overcoats, food, drink, or pens are allowed in the seminar room. Lockers are provided.


Have you ever been curious about what we do or what we have at RBSC? Join our weekly tour of Rare Books and Special Collections every Wednesday from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. for an introduction to our space and our unique materials and collections. Tours are free and open to the general public, as well as the UBC community. No need to RSVP, just drop in to learn what RBSC is all about!

If you can’t make our weekly Wednesday tour, tours of Rare Books and Special Collections may be arranged by contacting the Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian (604-822-0645) or by filling out the online form, under the Contact Us section.

The Chung Collection is housed in Rare Books and Special Collections. An exhibition of outstanding items from the collection can be seen there in the Chung Collection room. The exhibition is open to the public at no charge, and a weekly tour of the Chung Collection exhibition is available every Thursday from 11 a.m.-12 p.m.



Rare Books and Special Collections offers copying services to both patrons in the reading room and those unable to visit in person. To place a reproduction order, please fill out our reproduction order form.

UBC Affiliated Members:

Size / Format
UBC faculty, staff, students
& UBC community borrowers
Copying Services – books, microfiche, articles (b&w or colour) ≤11″x17″ $0.25 per page
Copying Services – files from archival collections (b&w or colour) ≤11″x17″ $0.25 per page
Copying Services – maps ≤11″x17″ $1.00 per page
Digital Scanning ≤11″x17″ $12.50 per scan
Audio Production Service Audiotape $10.00
Video Production Service Videotape $20.00

Non-UBC users unable to come in person to Rare Books and Special Collections:

Size / Format
Non-UBC users: Individual
& Not-for-profit institutions
Non-UBC users: For-profit organizations
Copying Services – books, microfiche, articles ≤11″x17″ Contact UBC Library Interlibrary Loan.
Copying Services – files from archival collections (b&w or colour) ≤11″x17″ $10 and up per file $10 and up per file
Copying Services – maps ≤11″x17″ $12.00 per sheet $12.00 per sheet
Digital Scanning ≤11″x17″ $12.50 per scan $12.50 per scan
Audio Production Service Audiotape $10.00 $10.00
Video Production Service Videotape $20.00 $20.00


Mailing charge $5.00, $10.00 and up oversize
Materials handling (i.e., dis-binding, removal of paperclips / staples) $5.00
CD or DVD $2.50
Commercial use fees if applicable $40 for print publication, $75 for television use


Scans and copies larger than 11″ x 17″ need to be referred to other UBC Library departments where different fees may apply.


Planning a visit to RBSC? Mulling over a reference question? Organizing a class trip or tour?

Contact us! You can also explore our website where you can find links to our acquisitions policy, descriptions of our holdings (including Virtual Exhibitions), and research guides.

Please fill out our Contact us form.