Here at the Digitization Centre we are fascinated and excited by the vast amount of primary-source material that our digitization work exposes us to.  Whether a document of historic significance, a beautiful illustration, or even a particularly fine typeface, we are frequently amazed by the materials we’re working to share with the world.  So much so, that not only will we crowd around to ogle a particularly interesting specimen, but we’ve started decorating our workplace with copies of some of our favorites.  But why stop there?  Surely, we can’t be the only ones geeky enough to appreciate such “gems” in our collections, and so we’ve decided to share them here with you.  Below you will find some of our favorites, hand-picked by staff from both existing and upcoming collections.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!   TIP: To view full resolution versions of the images on any size screen, click to enlarge and then right-click and select “open image in new tab.”

BC Bibliography Metadata Mania

Posted on January 27, 2014 @1:29 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

Unlike the majority of the content on the Digitizers’ blog, this post does not involve pretty pictures or interesting nuggets of historical information.  Instead, it will cover a very different aspect of the work performed in the Digital Initiatives unit: Metadata.  To be more specific, descriptive metadata; less glamorous perhaps than the maps and images we typically share in this forum, but without a significant amount of behind-the-scenes metadata work, searching for a particular image in our digital collections would be akin to looking for a needle in an enormous pile of very-similar needles.  While the following procedures will  probably be most interesting to our colleagues in libraries, archives, and other information science disciplines who deal with these kinds of issues on a daily basis, we hope also to shed some light for the average user on both how and why we spend a significant amount of our time developing and implementing useful metadata for our collections.

BC Bibliography Metadata Overview

The BC Bibliography collection is inspired by (and based closely on) a three volume printed bibliography of the same name.  In a sense, these volumes contain only metadata.  That is, the title, author, and descriptive data included in the printed bibliography serves as a guide for locating the texts and documents that it refers to.  

The original print bibliographies.

In much the same way, the metadata we create provides a means for users to locate the digital documents in our collections.  The metadata schema for the BC Bibliography digital collection is designed specifically to supplement full text searches with results for related terms and to provide a faceted browsing experience in which users can select terms from several categorical lists to narrow down their results.

Preparing the metadata from the printed bibliography for use in an online environment is typically accomplished with what is known in information-professional circles as a “crosswalk,” which matches metadata fields from one  “standard” schema to another.  While the name calls to mind a nice clear path, in the real world things are almost never that simple.  Fields from one schema seldom all match up 1:1 with the fields in the desired schema meaning that somehow data will either need to be split from a single field into multiple fields or visa versa. In practice this is akin to fitting a square peg in a round hole.

The final metadata for the BC Bibliography digital collection involved crosswalking three (or more) separate metadata sources into one.  Because we wanted to provide the most complete metadata possible we decided to include not only the data from the original print bibliographies (which are missing subject data crucial to the desired faceted browsing experience), but also data from the contributing institution’s library catalogue record and the most complete record available through WorldCat (an industry-standard catalogue record aggregator).  As one might imagine, this presented a host of issues including both the basic logistics of how to collect and combine all this data, and how to handle the numerous duplicates and inconsistencies inherent to mashing together so many disparate sets of data.  Furthermore, the Library of Congress subject headings we were able to collect through this method proved unsuitable for the type of faceted browsing planned for the BC Bibliography collection, and needed to be split into constituent phrases (rather than the familiar dash — separated — format).  Ultimately we were able to combine these records, split and reformat the subject fields, normalize the data, and remove all duplicates to end up with a properly formatted tab-seperated text file for batch uploading into our CONTENTdm based collection. If you’d like to know more about how it was all done, read on…

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Cruising through a collection

Posted on February 22, 2013 @4:06 pm by Laura

Illustration of the Empress of Britain by Kenneth D Shoesmith, found inside a promotional booklet for the ship

Every time we open a new box from the Chung Collection to digitize, it’s always exciting to see what’s in store for us. Sometimes the boxes are filled with Canadian Pacific pamphlets about train travel across the Rockies or vacation trips for “couples only” to Mexico, or menus from the Empress Hotel or Sporting Maps. 

In Box 219, we found the usual array of items from menus to shuffleboard game rules, but what sets this box apart from some of the others is that every single item relates to the CP ocean liner the Empress of Britain.

The Empress of Britain was launched in 1931 as the largest passenger ship in the CP fleet and traveled the world in first class style. Not only was she launched by British Royalty, but also was host to HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at the end of their Canadian tour in 1939. The Empress of Britain sank in name of “King and Country” in 1940 after she had been converted from a luxury ocean liner to ferrying troops across the Atlantic Ocean as part of the war effort.

The items within Box 219 cover many transatlantic and world wide sailings, however it is possible to pick out items from an individual sailing including passenger lists, drink lists, programs of entertainment, luncheon menus, abstract logs of sailing, and personal letters written by passengers aboard the ship.  With all this we are able to create a profile of what life aboard the Empress of Britain was like, including weather throughout each sailing, which prominent people were on board and what they would eat while dining with the ship’s Captain. Meanwhile, other documents allow us to compare this with what the third class passengers could expect for their meals.

Items like these highlight the depth of the Chung Collection and give us a glimpse of life in a different era. The individual items, although interesting in isolation, become much more meaningful when correlated with other material within the collection.

Here are a few examples from Box 219.

Letter written by a passenger while on board the Empress of Britain to family in Massachusetts Apartment plan for the Empress of Britain, showing all compartments and decksAbstract log from the Empress of Britain
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Valentine’s Messages from Canadian Pacific

Posted on February 14, 2013 @10:56 am by Larissa

Canadian Pacific Telegram book cover

Canadian Pacific Telegram book cover

It’s 1912 and you are reclining on your Canadian Pacific Railway seat having just finished a hearty lunch of roast beef and custard pudding. You gaze out at the prairie scenery and think ahead fondly to your family waiting for you at home – it’s been a long trip and you are looking forward to seeing them in 2 day’s time.

Then you open up the newspaper and spill your coffee, just a little bit, as you notice the date.  February 14th – you forgot Valentine’s Day.

Never fear!  Your trusty CP Rail porter can organize a telegram to be sent at the next stop, to be delivered by a uniformed messenger (location dependent) and enclosed in an attractive envelope.  And if you aren’t the poetic type, take advantage of one of these specially prepared texts to declare your love:

I picked my Valentine for life, sweetest and fairest of all, my wife.

Prefer something a little more dramatic?

Faint heart, they say, ne’er won fair lady. My heart is strong for you this Valentine’s Day.

Or maybe it’s for someone that you’re still wooing:

Be my Valentine. Say you care. Give all those other guys the air.

And there’s always this one. Perhaps racier-sounding today than in 1912:

You’re dearest to me of all your sex. All I can say is x x x.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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BC Historical Newspapers Update

Posted on May 25, 2017 @3:49 pm by mikec

Update: A list current in May 2017 can be found here: http://digitize.library.ubc.ca/uncategorized/bc-historical-newspapers-update-2017/

The BC Historical Newspapers portal is one of our most heavily used digital collections. Occasionally we are delightfully surprised to find out about the creative ways people find to use the collections. Two of our favourite projects come to us courtesy of the great work by folks at Heritage Vancouver and the Revelstoke Museum & Archives: Heritage Vancouver used the Daily Building Record to locate previously missing 1912 Vancouver building permits for the Heritage Vancouver Society Building Permits Database Revelstoke Museum & Archives is using several BC Historical Newspapers titles in the history of snow and avalanche research for an upcoming exhibit. In the process, they are finding information on previously unknown avalanche events and will be adding them to the Canadian Avalanche Centre Database Have you used the BC Historical Newspapers for your own project? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

New in BC Historical Newspapers

Over the past few months, DI staff have been quietly adding issues to the BC Historical Newspapers portal. Since the site first launched in November 2011 we have added 9 new titles in addition to completing the remaining partial runs of 9 of the original titles. In all we have added an additional 8000 issues consisting of over 42,000 pages of community newspapers, nearly matching the original 45,000 pages.

Additional Issues added
Cumberland News 1897-1915
 District Ledger (Fernie) Various other titles 1893-1919
 Boundary Creek Times (Greenwood) 1896-1911
 Ledge (Greenwood) 1906-1926
 Moyie Leader 1898-1911
 Economist (Nelson) 1897-1906
 Miner (Nelson) 1890 (not 1891)-1898
 Tribune (Nelson) 1892-1902
 Daily Building Record (Vancouver) 1912-1914
Recently added titles
Anaconda News 1901-1905
Coast News (Gibsons)
(Courtesy of Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives)
1945-1977, 1983-1989
Enderby Press & Walker’s Weekly (various other titles) 1909-1921
The Independent (Vancover) 1900-1903
Western Call (Vancouver) 1910-1916
Orchard City Record (Kelowna) 1908-1911
Nicola Valley News (Merritt) 1910-1916
Revelstoke Herald 1897-1905

What’s next?

A pilot project to move the digitized back issues of UBC’s student newspaper, the Ubyssey from its current home to the BC Historical Newspapers portal has been completed. Starting later this year, we will begin adding issues from 1918-2010. Thanks to the support from a very generous donor, we will also begin adding over 100 titles of early community newspapers in 2013-2014. Coming up:

Upcoming additions (subject to change)
Agassiz Record 1923
Armstrong Advance and Spallumcheen Advocate 1905-1906
West Fork News (Beaverdell) 1901
Bennett Sunday 1899-1900
Brooklyn News 1898
Radium (Canford) 1917
Cascade Record 1898-1901
Chase Tribune 1912-1914
Chilliwack Free Press 1911-1912
Fraser Advance (Chilliwack) 1907
Surrey Times (Cloverdale) 1895
Coalmount Courier 1912
Review (Columbia) 1899
Review (Courtenay) 1912-1918
Weekly News (Courtenay) 1892-1896
Cranbrook Herald 1898-1927
Prospector (Cranbrook) 1905-1915
Crofton Gazette & Cowichan News 1902
Islander (Cumberland) 1910-1916
Cumberland Islander 1917-1931
Duncan Enterprise & Vancouver Island Advertiser 1900-1903
Echo (Duncan) 1908-1909
Advance (Fairview) 1894
Lardeau Eagle (Ferguson) 1900-1904
Glenora News 1898
East Kootenay Miner (Golden) 1897-1898
Golden Era 1893-1902
Times (Golden) 1907-1909
Grand Forks Sunday 1914-1920
Evening Sunday (Grand Forks) 1902-1910
Grand Forks Miner 1896-1898
Grand Forks Sun & Kettle Valley Orchardist 1911-1913, 1921-1932
Daily Times (Greenwood) 1900
Greenwood Miner 1899-1901
Omineca Herald (Hazelton) 1908-1912
Omineca Miner (Hazelton) 1911-1918
Hazelton Queek 1880-1881
Hosmer Times 1910
Kamloops Wawa 1901-1917
British Columbia News (Kaslo) 1897-1898
Evening Kootenaian (Kaslo) 1898
Kelowna Record 1912-1920
Keremoeos Chronicle 1908-1909
Delta News (Ladner) 1902-1908
Delta Times (Ladner) 1903-1914
Lillooet Advance 1911
Prospector (Lillooet) 1898-1917
Marysville Tribune 1901-1902
Nicola Herald 1908-1909
Mission City News 1893
Despatch (Morrissey) 1904
Morrrissey Mention 1916-1917
 Morrrissey Miner 1903
Arrow Lake Advocate (Nakusp) 1914
Daily Telegram (Nanaimo) 1893
Nanaimo Courier 1899
Nanaimo Mail 1896
Westward Ho (Nanaimo) 1886
Daily Canadian (Nelson) 1906-1908
Kootenay Liberal (Nelson) 1908
Lowery’s Claim (Nelson) 1901-1906
Nelson Daily Miner 1898-1902
Nelson Weekly Miner 1899
Slocan Mining Review (New Denver) 1906-1908
Slocan Record 1911
Daily News (New Westminster) 1906-1914
New Westminster Times 1859-1961
Pacific Canadian (New Westminster) 1893-1894; 1916-1917
Nicola Herald 1905-1908
Express (North Vancouver) 1905-1912
Okanagan Mining Review 1893
Penticton Press 1907-1909
Nugget (Poplar) 1903-1904
Loyalist (Port Essington) 1908
Port Essington Loyalist 1909
Star (Port Essington) 1908
Sunday (Port Essington) 1907-1908
Port Moody Gazette 1883-1887
North Coast (Port Simpson) 1907-1908
Prince Rupert Journal 1910-1917
Prince Rupert Optimist 1909-1911
Quartz Creek Miner 1897
Queen Charlotte Island 1911-1914
Kootenay Star (Revelstoke) 1890-1894
Mail Herald (Revelstoke) 1906-1917
Evening World (Rossland) 1901-1904
Industrial World (Rossland) 1899-1901
Prospector (Rossland) 1895
Saturday World (Rossland) 1903
Paystreak (Sandon) 1896-1902
Silverton 1898-1901
Slocan Drill 1900-1905
Cassiar News (Stewart) 1919-1926
Slocan Prospector (Kaslo) 1895
Lardeau Mining Review (Trout Lake) 1904-1907
Coast Miner (Van Anda) 1900
BC Labour News (Vancouver) 1921-1922
BC Lumberman (Vancouver) 1904-1905
BC Trades Unionist (Vancouver) 1908-1909
Vancouver Building Record 1911
Greater Vancouver Chinook 1912-1917
Labor Star (Vancouver) 1919
Leader-Advocate (Vancouver) 1923
Mt. Pleasant Advocate (Vancouver) 1904-1907
Red Flag (Vancouver) 1918-1919
Western Clarion (Vancouver) 1904-1924
British Columbia Tribune (Yale) 1866
Ymir Herald 1905
Ymir Miner 1898
Ymir Mirror 1904


Picturesque Victoria, British Columbia

Posted on June 23, 2014 @11:28 am by Rob

A view of the provincial parliament buildings in Victoria, BC.From the book Picturesque Victoria, British Columbia. These photographic souvenir books were popular with tourism and development organizations from the late 19th and in to the 20th century.

Have a look at the entire book here. Part of the British Columbia Bibliography project.

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Posted on January 30, 2013 @9:38 am by pughchr

This image is from the Augustus Pemberton collection, one of two collections donated to Rare Books and Special Collections by John Keenlyside in 2008. We are currently digitizing both collections, and they should appear on the Rare Books and Special Collections website in the near future.

The image is of a calendar of prisoners who were tried at the Court of Assize in Victoria on January 4th, 1866. Of the five prisoners tried, three were discharged, one was sentenced to death, and one was sentenced to “penal servitude” for five years.

There are a number of interesting things in this picture. Two of the prisoners do not have last names written on the calendar, and instead have “An Indian” written after their first names. In one case the first name is in brackets, while “An Indian” is not. It is also worth noting that one prisoner, who was sentenced to death by the court, was ordered to be kept in jail (spelled “Gaol” on the calendar) until “Her Majesty’s pleasure be known”.

There is also a double entendre in the calendar. In the case of the first prisoner, who was been sentenced to death, the order to the jailor (“Gaoler”) reads “To be executed”. We assume this means that the jailor is to carry out the sentence, not that the jailor is to execute the prisoner.

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The Prolific David Conde

Posted on January 22, 2013 @3:56 pm by pughchr

First page from an article by David Conde, entitled “Mankind from Beginning to End”

One of our current projects is to digitize the David Conde fonds in partnership with the University of Tokyo. We are discovering first hand that David Conde was a hugely prolific journalist who had much to say about a lot of subjects. As such, the David Conde fonds contains vast quantities of manuscripts for books and articles.

Though he mostly wrote about Japanese and American politics and culture, he would sometimes venture into other subject areas as well. This page (click the image to enlarge) is the first page of an article about historical anthropology entitled “Mankind from Beginning to End”. With a title like that, this article is a fitting example of how prolific David Conde was. We are half expecting to find an article called “Everything under the Sun”, or maybe even “The Kitchen Sink”!

For more information on the David Conde fonds, click here. To see our previous blog posts about the David Conde fond, click here and here.

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RG 10: Department of Indian Affairs Letterbooks Project

Posted on October 21, 2016 @11:03 am by Peter D James

Update on project: Due to various reasons, the RG 10 Departmental Letterbooks Project did not move beyond the pilot stage.

The RG 10 Departmental Letterbooks Project is a collaborative venture between the University British Columbia Library and the University Library, University of Saskatchewan to digitize, describe and provide online access to a volume of Department of Indian Affairs correspondence, 1871-1880. This material is currently only available on microfilm issued by Library and Archives Canada.

Letter from Edmund Meredith to Jean Langevin. 6 March 1875

Letter from Edmund Meredith to Jean Langevin. 6 March 1875

These letterbooks include the outgoing correspondence from the Department of Indian Affairs, providing insight into department-wide policies and a national view of Indian Affairs. The documents are important to researchers throughout Canada as they cover Indian Affairs activities from the perspective of government agents from coast to coast in English and French.
The Departmental Letterbooks are an important complement to the heavily utilized and now digitized ‘Red and Black Series’ of RG-10. The potential user community for this digital content and associated metadata and user interface will include academic faculty, staff and students especially those working in the fields of Indigenous Studies, History, Political Studies, Law, Anthropology and Sociology; those in Aboriginal communities conducting research related to Aboriginal history, rights, land claims, the residential school experience and genealogy; and independent researchers. The online letterbooks would also be an excellent teaching tool for educators who want their students to make use of and appreciate the value of primary documents in their research on Aboriginal issues. The image accompanying this text provides an example of the work done on this content.
At present the two libraries have created approximately 5,000 records that include digital reproductions of the letter originals, image identification, descriptions and transcriptions of the letters’ content, and subject analysis which will aid researchers’ attempts to review the Department’s activities across regions and over time. Project teams at the two libraries continue to review and revise the entries with a view to making a site public in 2014-2015.

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Kinesis Digitization Project

Posted on January 11, 2013 @1:38 pm by Larissa

Kinesis, May 1976

Kinesis, May 1976

A new year brings with it new projects, and we’re excited to spotlight an upcoming digitization project with valuable local content.

Kinesis is an important local women’s newspaper that was published by the Vancouver Status of Women organization from 1974 to 2001 (the early iteration of the publication is entitled Vancouver Status of Women).  It is the only Canadian national newspaper focusing on women and women’s issues, and it is an invaluable and well-referenced resource for researchers in the area of gender, sexuality and social justice.

The project will digitize all 330 issues of the newspaper and make them freely available online in our digital collections.  We hope to have the publication up by summer … stay tuned for the launch announcement.

The material is held in the UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections division at HQ1101.V24 N49.

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Digitization projects – current and upcoming

Posted on January 22, 2013 @4:52 pm by Larissa

In order to track the digitization projects that are underway, we’ve put up a Gantt chart on our site that shows the timelines and overlap of all current projects. We will be updating this regularly, so check out our http://diginit.library.ubc.ca/projects page under the Current tab to view the most recent Digital Initiatives project list. Note that this chart reflects the longer-term (ie. 2 months or longer) projects only; projects with a timeline of a few weeks or less are not reflected.

DI Projects Gantt Chart

Digital Initiatives Projects: Gantt Chart

More posts on project planning coming in the new year. Until then, happy holidays everyone!

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