Special Collections scores cartoon windfall

July 10, 2008

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By Julie Ovenell-Carter

There’s something funny about the university’s recent record-breaking library haul—just ask Eric Swanick, the man responsible for securing an unprecedented $1.2 million in gifts-in-kind for SFU Special Collections in 2007/08.

Among the many book and archival treasures donated last year—including a 1901 Carrier hymnbook and a book containing an original Chagall lithograph—are more than 2,000 panels by some of Canada’s most acclaimed editorial cartoonists. They include works by Graham Harrop (The Vancouver Sun, Globe and Mail), John Larter (Toronto Star, Calgary Sun), Bob Krieger (The Province) and Robert Bierman (Victoria Daily Times, Monday Magazine). The cartoons augment a substantial collection that already includes works by Len Norris (The Vancouver Sun), Roy Peterson (The Vancouver Sun, Maclean’s, New York Times, Punch), and Dan Murphy (Georgia Straight, The Province).

"These cartoons form an important record of our society as well as an important part of our library," says Swanick, "but they are just the tip of the special collections iceberg at SFU." He adds, "this year’s other collections that are especially significant to B.C. include First Nations author Eden Robinson’s papers and the legal documents from the Little Sisters trial—arguably this country’s most important censorship trial."

Swanick is reaching out to potential donors to help continue to expand the range of B.C. materials in SFU’s special collections. "Donor support is critical to our expansion," he says.

"We’re always looking for books and other printed materials in key areas such as editorial cartoons and B.C.-focused collections on history, literature, publishing, gay and lesbian studies, politics, multiculturalism, environment, social issues and 20th century avant-garde poetry.

"At the moment, we are particularly interested in collecting posters, music, ephemera and other documentation such as photos and video from the outspoken punk movement that dominated Vancouver’s music scene in the late ’70s and early ‘80s." For more information, or to discuss a donation, contact Eric Swanick at or call 778.782.4626.

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