February 20, 2024: The Xwi7xwa Library echoes the voices and philosophies of Indigenous peoples through its services, collections, and programs.

At the heart of the University of British Columbia’s sprawling campus lies a treasure trove of knowledge, the UBC Library, renowned not only for its vast collections but also for its commitment to celebrating and preserving Indigenous cultures and histories. Learning, knowledge, research, and insight are the principles that guide UBC Library, the second-largest academic research library in Canada. It is a globally influential research library that provides vital support for research, learning and teaching excellence, with more than six million volumes both physical and digital. This week in the mentoring circle, we echo the voices and philosophies of Indigenous peoples through – the Xwi7xwa Library. A specialized centre for academic and community Indigenous scholarship that holds collections and services that reflect Indigenous approaches to teaching, learning, and research.

Xwi7xwa Library is one of the only Indigenous branches of a university library in Canada. Located adjacent to the First Nations Longhouse, it houses a collection of more than 12,000 items, including thousands of books and hundreds of videos relating to First Nations in British Columbia, and resources on Indigenous peoples from across Canada and internationally. X̱wi7x̱wa, pronounced ‘whei-wha’, means “echo” in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim, the Squamish language. Chief Simon Baker of the Squamish Nation gave the name to the library at the First Nations House of Learning Opening Ceremonies on May 25, 1993. The mandate of the Xwi7xwa Library is to “echo” the voices and philosophies of Indigenous peoples through its services, collections, and programs. In the video below learn about the library’s history from Gene Joseph, Xwi7xwa’s first Librarian.

The Xwi7xwa Library, a hub for both academic and community Indigenous scholarship, boasts valuable, extensive, and unique collections. Specializing in Indigenous digital resources, the library provides access to Open Indigenous Content, ranging from digitized archival materials to streaming webcasts. The Open Indigenous Content page showcases digital Indigenous content freely available to all, featuring useful resources such as:

    • Verna Kirkness’s Speeches inside cIRcle,
    • MOACAT, MOA’s online object catalogue.
    • Reciprocal Research Network is an online research environment that lets you access cultural First Nations items held at 29 institutions, all from the same convenient interface.

Created from materials across all branches, UBC Library’s Open Collections are publicly accessible digital resources that include photos, books, newspapers, maps, videos, electronic theses, and dissertations. These collections are constantly growing and reflect the research interests of our community. Intending to provide more digital accessibility, UBC Library is a helpful ally collecting useful resources just at our fingertips. UBC’s open-access digital repository is called cIRcle, a digital collection of research and teaching materials created by the UBC community and its partners. Materials in cIRcle are openly accessible to anyone on the web and will be preserved for future generations. Learn how to use it in the following video:

Xwi7xwa Library also offers a wide range of carefully curated library Research Guides, covering everything from Two-Spirit & Indigiqueer Studies to Indigenous Children’s Literature. These guides are particularly helpful places to start when looking for information about a specific subject. Xwi7xwa librarians continually evaluate books, article indexes, and websites to find reliable, authoritative information on relevant topics. Research Guides include search strategies for finding resources that are relevant to the multidisciplinary study of Indigenous topics and materials written from Indigenous perspectives. Indigenous Education K-12 guide, for example, includes search strategies for finding books and articles as well as curriculum resources including lesson plans, recommended resources, bibliographies, and search tips.

UBC’s Xwi7xwa Library is developing its collection of music by Indigenous artists as well. The library has been focusing efforts on acquiring recordings made by current musicians and recordings of publicly available traditional materials. Music is embedded in many Indigenous cultures as a way of transmitting language, history, and cultural traditions. The collection provides immense value for scholarly research and it is meant for enjoyment that could even spark interest in language revitalization and preservation. It allows library users to access album art and read liner notes, which often provide significant information about the music. Tamis Cochrane, Xwi7xwa library’s Access Services Assistant created a playlist from the collection. Listen to the Spotify playlist below!

Looking to relax a bit more… Experience history at the tip of your pencil crayons! UBC Library’s Digital Colouring Books: Colour our Collections aims to inspire creativity and spark curiosity through the art found in their collections. Offering a unique way to engage with library content using themed digital colouring books like ‘Mythical Creatures’ or ‘The Maps and Landscapes’ series. It is a colourful way to de-stress using material from UBC Library’s Open Collections including historic images from the Andrew McCormick Maps and Prints Collection, the Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era Collection and Chinese Rare Books. Download your own copy to have fun with these digital collections. Post your finished pages on Instagram with the hashtag #ColourOurCollectionsUBC Show off your work and share your colours!