Oct. 15, 2019

Glenbow Western Research Centre opens in Taylor Family Digital Library

Increased access to Glenbow Library and Archives will enhance teaching, learning and research opportunities

Glenbow Library and Archives, the paramount collection documenting the history of western Canada, has a new access point in the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) at the University of Calgary.

The Glenbow Western Research Centre, provided by the Siebens Family, is now open, offering a spacious reading room for the campus community and members of the public, staffed by experts from Archives and Special Collections.

Glenbow Western Research Centre (GWRC) is a quiet library space dedicated to student, faculty and community researchers for the purpose of accessing archival materials. The creation of GWRC was made possible through founding support from Bill Siebens and Family. Their gift helped relocate Glenbow Library and Archives to the University of Calgary.

  • Photo above: Glenbow Western Research Centre on the second floor, Taylor Family Digital Library. Photo by Dave Brown, Libraries and Cultural Resources

"It’s very exciting to offer access to this remarkable collection of such historical significance. Glenbow Library and Archives will have a tremendous impact on research, teaching and learning,” says Mary-Jo Romaniuk, vice-provost for Libraries and Cultural Resources, which oversees Archives and Special Collections. “We look forward to assisting the campus community, private researchers and members of the public with their research needs.”

Construction of the GWRC, project-managed by Facilities, began in May 2019 and the completed space has transformed the south side of the TFDL’s second floor. The new space is designed with an optimal range for relative humidity which will protect the sensitive archive materials within the collection. It also replaces the Archives and Special Collections reading room, previously located on the fifth floor.

Historic project got underway nearly a year ago 

In November 2018, it was announced that after half a century of being housed at Glenbow in downtown Calgary, the Library and Archives would be relocating to the university. The physical move of materials began in March 2019. So far, nearly 70,000 books and boxes of archival materials have been moved and integrated into library and archival holdings. The relocation is expected to be complete in 2020.

Glenbow Library and Archives contains an astounding array of historical materials including approximately five linear kilometers of textual materials, two million photographs, 125,000 books, 15,000 maps, 4,000 videos and films and 600 hours of audio recordings.

“Relocating a collection of this size is a monumental achievement,” explains Dr. Romaniuk. “This massive undertaking requires a diverse team handling everything from physical move logistics and construction registering community users, designing services, processing and ingesting materials.” 

Beyond the physical move and creation of a new space, LCR is also building a digital collection to broaden access even further. So far, Digitization and Repository Services has made close to 115,000 photos from Glenbow Archives available online in the Glenbow Library and Archives Digital Collection. This ongoing task is complex and highly technical, involving the merging of three different textbases and extensive metadata work.

Glenbow seating

Glenbow Western Research Centre is a quiet library space for accessing archival materials.

Dave Brown, Libraries and Cultural Resources

Documenting the people, places and events that shaped western Canada

Access to Glenbow Library and Archives will benefit researchers in a wide range of disciplines: local, regional and provincial history; cultural and social history; religious studies; geography; political science; military history; and agriculture.

Requests for materials in Glenbow Library and Archives – as with other materials in Archives and Special Collections – must be submitted at least one business day prior to visiting GWRC so that staff may retrieve the items from storage.

Glenbow Western Research Centre is open weekdays 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Finding aids and information about requesting materials are available at ucalgary.ca/glenbow.

Glenbow Western Research Centre provided by the Siebens Family

The relocation of Glenbow Library and Archives and the creation of the Glenbow Western Research Centre have been made possible because of generous donations made by the Siebens Family, the Taylor Family and Fred P. Mannix. Special thanks to the Government of Alberta for its integral support of this endeavor.

Contributions to this significant initiative from the Siebens Family, Taylor Family and Fred P. Mannix are part of the university’s ongoing fundraising campaignEnergize: The Campaign for Eyes High.

Display cases

Display cases in Glenbow Western Research Centre will feature ongoing exhibits.

Dave Brown, Libraries and Cultural Resources