Top stories of 2017

Exterior of McPherson Library

Did you know…? 

To read interesting facts and figures, please go here.


Student Outreach

With the many learning resources we provide, we are always looking for ways to engage with students:

  • In September 2017, the Libraries hosted over 3,300 first year students with walking tours to the facilities and resources. 
  • We taught introductory research workshops to approximately 1,700 first year students between September and November 2017, engaging students in hands-on learning of how to undertake research and locate sources of information for their assignments.
  • UVic Libraries provided one-on-one expert research assistance as reference librarians and met with students in more than 12,000 interactions. These consultations ranged from helping students start research projects, develop research strategies, find the best research for their assignments, and provide guidance on how to properly use and display their information sources.
  • We conducted active outreach to 184 local high school students from six local and one up-Island schools, who sent a total of seven classes for 10 visits. Students worked on individual and groups projects in sciences and humanities with a variety of educational outcomes.
  • UVic Libraries have published over 250 online subject guides, which act as portals of research resources for students to use by topic. In 2017, these subject guides have had about 110,600 views, leading students to high quality research resources subscribed by the library.


For the first time, UVic Libraries participated in Thunderfest at the start of the academic year. Vikes Nation, in collaboration with UVic Students’ Society, UVic Orientation and Res Life, hosted the festival and invited campus partners to participate. UVic Libraries was represented well and had a photo booth, 3D printer, virtual reality goggles, and skill testing questions about the library. Students were able to enter a draw to win some amazing prizes and it was a great opportunity for us to connect with them to showcase what UVic Libraries has to offer.  Watch the video from this years’ event – complete with 3,300 students!

Science Literacy Week

Science Literacy Week website (September 18-24) highlights Canada’s scientists and science communicators from coast-to-coast; the goal of this annual event was to showcase the excellence and diversity of Canadian science. UVic Libraries was pleased to partner with academic publisher Springer Nature and we held free 3D printing and design workshops for students in our Digital Scholarship Commons space. Special Collections also curated a pop-up display featuring science related items from our collections.

Thesis Boot Camp

Hosted in conjunction with Faculty of Graduate Studies and the Centre for Academic Communication, the library provides space and instruction for participants of the Thesis Boot Camp. The event is held over three days and is offered twice a year. This fully subscribed program is an opportunity for graduate students to write and to make substantial headway on their thesis or dissertation in an environment free of distractions.  Participants can also sign up for one-on-one consultations with the expert staff of the Centre for Academic Communication.


Library Bag and Community Card

We have recently produced a beautifully designed, sturdy canvas bag that showcases the George Norris panels that form part of the façade of the Mearns Centre for Learning - McPherson Library.  George Norris was a Victoria-born artist whose modern public sculptures adorn many Vancouver and Victoria streetscapes. In addition to the beautification of our library, another one of Norris’ familiar pieces is located in the courtyard of the Greater Victoria Public Library’s central branch.  Bags are available for purchase at our library locations on campus for $5.  We have also updated the look of our community card that bears the same unique design.  You can request one at the Circulation desk. There is no charge to enjoy the many benefits of using our library resources.

Vancouver Island Library Staff Conference

On Friday April 28, 2017, UVic Libraries, along with our partner institutions Camosun College and the Greater Victoria Public Library, co-hosted the third annual Vancouver Island Library Conference at UVic. Attended by over 230 librarians and library workers from different sectors across Victoria, Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands, the conference theme was: “Our Island Is A Library: Open and Inclusive” and focused on libraries as centres of lifelong learning, protecting privacy, preserving and validating information, and advocating for media literacy and intellectual freedom in a post-truth era. There were 30 panels, posters, and presentations over the course of the free, one-day event, including a keynote presentation by UBC faculty member Luciana Duranti, a Booksmack with librarians from public and academic libraries, and a closing panel of local professional and freelance journalists. In addition to the co-hosts, this year’s conference was generously supported by sponsorship from local unions, booksellers, publishers, government agencies, and library federations.

University Librarian lecture with Guy Berthiaume

Do libraries and archives need a makeover? In the ever-changing world of technology and trends, cultural institutions are continually reinventing themselves to increase their visibility and maintain their relevance.  The 2017 University Librarian’s Annual Lecture at the Royal BC Museum was an evening of stimulating conversation with Librarian and Archivist of Canada Guy Berthiaume and journalist and community leader Jo-Ann Roberts. The packed room enjoyed an informal dialogue that explored many themes including access to public programming, Indigenous language initiatives, fake news, and the need for quality spaces, among many topics.


UVic Libraries benefits greatly from the generosity and foresight of our donors.  Amongst the donations in 2017, we received $620,000 from the Estate of Alice Carolyn May Wootton (“Carol”) to support the Libraries’ many and varied activities. Carol was a musician, lecturer and writer; her six books are a mixture of fiction, musicology, and memoirs.

Carol won the silver medallion as Victoria's top pianist in 1954 and travelled to Europe for further study; living in London, Vienna, and Zurich. While her time in Vienna was short-lived due to the Hungarian revolution, she never forgot the experience, and wrote a book about helping refugees. At the age of 26, she returned to Victoria and took her PhD in comparative literature at the University of Oregon and taught at the Universities of Victoria, Texas, and Georgia. Her later years were spent writing and living in Oak Bay with her devoted sister, Anna.  

A new fund will be established in memory of her parents, The Honorable Robert Alexander Burnie Wootton (a judge, lawyer, and mayor of Oak Bay, among many accomplishments) and May Elizabeth Wootton, for their dedicated service to the community.  Carol’s grandfather and sister also practiced law and the Wootton family has already established a scholarship in Law at the University of Victoria.


Research Grants Menu

Recognizing the increasing importance of the Libraries in faculty research grants, the "Grants Menu" clearly and concisely lays out a variety of ways in which a library partnership can help to strengthen faculty funding proposals, including digital preservation, knowledge mobilization, and digital asset management.


Sellars Collection

In 2017, UVic Libraries acquired the reference collection of renowned British bookbinder David Sellars (1949-2015).  This collection of books on bookbinding will serve as an invaluable resource for learning and research in book history and the historical book arts. In addition, the library acquired an example of Sellars’ superb craftsmanship, The Word Was Sung, a collection of Estonian folk music bound in grey Harmatan Nigerian Goatskin with watercolour inlays and Japanese paper doublures.  

Manuscripts in the Collection

UVic Libraries was the first institution to participate in the “Manuscripts in the Curriculum” program offered by Les Enluminures, a firm based in New York, Chicago, and Paris with the largest inventory of text manuscripts and miniatures from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  Twenty-one manuscripts were loaned to UVic until May 1, 2017, allowing students and faculty a rare opportunity to work with these primary sources. Two open houses were held for members of the public and campus community to view the materials, and Sandra Hindman, President & CEO of Les Enluminures, joined us for a public lecture and tour of our holdings.

UVic Libraries recently acquired centuries-old manuscripts in support of our growing teaching collection of medieval manuscripts.  Three new manuscripts purchases were made possible through the generosity of our donors, including a 13th century liturgical book (used for signing by the Choir); a 14th century manuscript book about saints’ lives and miracles; and an illuminated 15th century Book of Hours (personal prayer book).


Victoria to Vimy, sponsored by a World War Commemorations Community Fund grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage, is a digital collection of First World War materials held at the University of Victoria Libraries' Special Collections.  On April 12, 2017 - the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge - the Libraries held an open house to launch the exhibit, to display examples of our First World War related holdings and commemorate the day with readings of letters from the archives.

Ian McTaggart Cowan

In June 2017, the Libraries launched a new digital exhibit entitled: Ian McTaggart Cowan - Champion of Canadian Ecology.  The exhibit displays McTaggart Cowan’s field notebooks, and includes digitized photographs, 3D images of field specimens, films of Cowan's CBC television programs including “Web of Life” and “The Living Sea,” as well as the abridged version of Briony Penn’s biography: “The Real Thing: The Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan.”

Some highlights from Dr. Ian McTaggart Cowan’s career:

  • UVic’s Chancellor from 1979 to 1984, and one of Canada’s foremost wildlife biologists and conservationists. He died April 18, 2011, two months shy of his 100th birthday.
  • He warned about climate change to the Arctic in 1952; the first conference of meteorologists and biologists was 1975.
  • He was at the forefront of developing the environmental review process.
  • A remarkable naturalist known as the “father of wildlife conservation and ecology.”
  • He highlighted the need for scientific independence, peer review and supporting local communities/First Nations/non-government organizations with adequate time and resources to put forward their arguments during the reviews.
  • He was Canada’s pioneer of natural history television programming. 

The Times Colonist paid tribute to our collection in a July 4, 2017 story.

Launch of Digital Scholarship Commons

The new Digital Scholarship Commons space opened in May with much campus fanfare.  This third floor commons area in the Mearns Centre for Learning – McPherson Library is a dedicated facility providing students with enhanced access to software, hardware, and expertise in support of digital scholarship.  The freshly minted space is a melting pot of creativity and academia with multiple occupants—including the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, Internet Shakespeare Editions, Humanities Computing and Media Centre, and Systems Offices—sharing a passion for all things digital.

With hands-on learning the impetus for this new space, and free workshops being offered to the entire UVic campus, the possibilities for creative output are as diverse as the technology itself.  For example, computer science students took a 3D design class for just-in-time learning, preparing themselves for professional careers with skills which are not part of their formal curriculum. With just-in-time learning, students can acquire in-demand skills for real-life career opportunities just as they need them. It’s 3D art imitating life.  Read The Ring.


Echo the dog and UVic Law Library

For two weeks leading up to law school exams in April, law students had a unique opportunity to “check out” Echo, the companion dog, on loan from law professor Andrew Newcombe.  Local TV stations enthusiastically seized the opportunity to interview law students, Prof. Newcombe, and Associate University Librarian for Law, Kim Nayyer, and loved the fact that Echo had a bar(k) code.

The CTV Vancouver Island story ended up being picked up by the Canada-wide CTV network; it earned thousands of likes and shares across the country; and was the #1 most-watched story on the CTV National website when it aired. In addition to Global TV BC’s 800+ Facebook shares of its interview about Echo, the Twitter-verse lit up with this story being picked up across Canada, England, New Zealand and the American Association of Law Libraries, to name a few. This was a story with legs!

Enjoy a selection of media links from across the globe and locally about our story:


The top circulating items at UVic Libraries:


  • Thomas' Calculus Early Transcendentals (13th edition) / George B. Thomas Jr.
  • Introduction to Probability and Statistics / Tim Swartz [2014 revision by M. Lesperance, University of Victoria]
  • Biochemistry – 8th edition / Jeremy M. Berg
  • Student Solutions Manual to accompany Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics, Structure, and Change, 10th edition / Charles Trapp et al.
  • Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics, Structure, and Change; Volume 1: Thermodynamics and Kinetics, 10th edition / Peter Atkins and Julio De Paula
  • Sports in Society / Jay Coakley
  • Introduction to applied econometrics / Kenneth G. Stewart.
  • Performing baroque music / Mary Cyr; Reinhard G. Pauly, general editor.
  • Interpretation of early music / Robert Donington.
  • Analysis of biological data / Michael C. Whitlock and Dolph Schluter.
  • Performer's guide to music of the Baroque period / series editor, Anthony Burton


  • Laptops (MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Windows Laptops)
  • Headphones
  • Cables (adapters and chargers)
  • Hand puppet collection with favourites being: Harbor seal pup, Sea serpent, Red fox (from Curriculum Library)
  • Calculators
  • Tripods
  • Cameras
  • Camcorders
  • Audio recorders