Visiting / Services

Please note: Some collections maybe be inaccessible until March 2023. Please contact Rare Book and Special Collections or University Archives for more information.

Access to Materials

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.

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 Krisztina Laszlo, RBSC Archivist, or Chelsea Shriver, RBSC Librarian, for more information.

To browse and search for holdings, researchers use the UBC Library Catalogue and archival descriptions in finding aids and indexes. Research guides and online databases are also available. Once you’ve located your item(s) of interest, you can request materials at the front desk of RBSC. Please note that we do stop retrieving materials for patrons at 1:30 p.m. during normal weekday open hours. Collections are non-circulating and are used only in the RBSC reading room.

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.


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 (free of charge)
  • 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