Glenbow blog: A tool for researchers

Lucille Mulhall, champion lady steer roper, Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, Alberta.
Image via @ucalgarylibrary Digital Collections: ID NA-335-19.

Welcome to the Glenbow blog! The University of Calgary is using this blog to help researchers make the most of the Glenbow Library and Archives. So look for new posts every two weeks sharing research tips, stories and news as we explore this remarkable collection.

The move

John Ware and family

John Ware, one of Alberta’s legendary ranchers and cowboys, with his wife, Mildred, and two of his children, Robert and Nettie. Image via @ucalgarylibrary Digital Collections: ID NA-263-1.

Glenbow and UCalgary staff have nearly finished moving the Glenbow’s library and archives to UCalgary’s High Density Library. All that’s left to move are more complex items like map cabinets and delicate materials like nitrate negatives (they’re highly flammable!). UCalgary is currently working with specialty movers to safely handle those remaining items and materials.

The move is allowing Glenbow to develop its new mission as Calgary’s premier art gallery. UCalgary, meanwhile, is significantly increasing its holdings of unique materials related to the history of Western Canada.

Most of the books and archival materials are being stored at the High Density Library. Some of it, however, is available at the Taylor Family Digital Library. This includes documents collected by Métis genealogist Charles Denney, architect William Stanley Bates, fur trader and politician Richard C. Hardisty and pioneer rancher John Ware.

Glenbow Western Research Centre

UCalgary opened the Glenbow Western Research Centre last October to facilitate access to Glenbow’s library and archives. The centre is located in the Taylor Family Digital Library. It is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Since most of the material is stored off site, researchers must make their requests in advance. But researchers who request materials by 3 p.m. will usually be able to consult them the next day by 11 a.m.

“If you’ve used other archives and special collections around the world or across the country, requesting materials in advance is very common, and next-day availability is very good,” says Annie Murray, head of Archives and Special Collections at UCalgary. “Glenbow had a specific service environment because the collections and the reading room were on the same floor. We understand that this may be a change for some researchers.”

Glenbow Library and Archives digital collection

Geologist Diane Loranger at a desk.

Geologist Diane Loranger uses a microscope to examine samples at the Royalite Oil Co. office in Turner Valley, Alberta, ca. 1946. Image via Glenbow Library and Archives: IP-14A-1470.

That change has led LCR to put an emphasis on building the Glenbow digital collection and making it accessible online.

The digital collection currently contains over 120,000 photographs, political cartoons and posters. And that is going to grow! As more photographs and documents are digitized, they’ll be added to the collection. The digital collection is searchable. And if you need a high resolution digital copy, it can be ordered through the collection.

Along with the research centre and the digital collection, LCR staff attended summer school last year to better understand Glenbow’s collection. In the meantime, LCR archivists and staff are still busy sorting and cleaning the collections.

“This is a very important library and archival collection that documents the history of western Canada, especially the prairie regions, southern Alberta and the Rocky Mountains,” says Murray. “We’ve been working very hard to transfer the collection in the most safe and respectful way but also to ensure its long-term preservation, its integration into the teaching and research life of the university and to welcome new visitors from the community.

“It’s a commitment to the preservation of the collection but also a commitment to its users and all the exciting potential that it holds.

“We love to think about what new things can we do with the collections to help share them more broadly with people in Alberta.”

So please stay tuned. Subscribe to the Glenbow blog for updates and look for future posts every two weeks that explore different aspects of the Glenbow Library and Archives.