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Special Collections: Canadian Literature

Finding Materials

Materials in RBSC are most frequently arranged according to their subject matter, source, and document type and size; maps, books, A/V materials, framed artwork and archives are usually all kept in different locations. This means that collections are sometimes split up or rearranged. Collections that were acquired by RBSC at different times when standards varied may or may not be catalogued in such a way that is easy to "collocate" collections. There are a few strategies that can be used in order to get an idea of the entirety of many of our collections.


Search for RBSC's archival holdings in Access to Memory (AtoM). This web applications does not often have digitized materials (there are a few exceptions) but rather features written descriptions of our archival materials. To find digitized materials try searching our Open Collections (above). After reviewing descriptions, you may wish to view the archives themselves. Take note of the "Reference Number" to help us find it for you ( an example is outlined in red below).

AtoM Search diagram

Searching for materials

AtoM Search diagram

Using the left pane to navigate a description

AtoM Search diagram

Finding Books: Call Numbers

Since RBSC does not permit browsing of materials that are housed in the vault, call number browsing is an effective way to virtually "see" books as they are arranged on the shelf.

Learn more about call numbers.

When there is more than one book by the same author, they are generally shelved in sequence (exception: Special Pamphlets or SPAM).

To design your own call number browse, use the catalogue's "simple search" tab within the "advanced search" function.

Enter the beginning of the call number. The more you enter, the more specific the search. Be sure to select Rare Books and Special Collections from the dropdown menu beside "Filter by Location/Item Type/Language"

Likely to be books or periodicals concerned with British Columbia or Canadian Literature:

PR 8309-9680 (English Literature -- Local or Provincial)

PS 8001-8599 (Canadian Literature)

Some are categorized as "Special Pamphlets" (SPAM):

SPAM Periodical Collection

Author search, series search, and other strategies