Doctoral candidate Kimberly O’Donnell peruses 19th-century novels in Special Collections and Rare Books in the Bennett Library, Burnaby campus as she works on her PhD thesis.


Special Collections yields wealth of research resources

September 03, 2014

Doctoral candidate Kimberly O’Donnell is a frequent visitor to Special Collections and Rare Books in the Bennett Library at the Burnaby campus.

The recipient of a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, O’Donnell is researching 19th-century novels for her dissertation examining altered states of consciousness.

She found plenty of material to choose from in Special Collections and Rare Books.

O'Donnell also spent considerable time this summer perusing Special Collections’ Lake District materials—part of the library’s significant William Wordsworth Collection.

That research was for a summer job assisting English professor Margaret Linley, who is developing an online bibliographic archive of the Lake District materials. 

Linley’s project is one of many digital humanities projects around the world striving to make rare and unique collections more accessible to the research community.

Recent digital initiatives in SFU’s Special Collections cover a wide variety of subject areas, including a Canadian Farmworkers Union collection, B.C. mountain photo collection, editorial cartoons, B.C. postcards, a Doukhobor collection and Vancouver punk posters, music and photographs.

Selective examples of Special Collections’ non-digital holdings include an expanding assortment of papers from younger writers such as recent Giller prize-winner and author Lynn Coady. There are also paper collections from authors such as Anita Badami, Caroline Adderson, Shani Mootoo, Lisa Robertson, Peter Trower and Michael Turner.

Researchers will also find a Contemporary Literature Collection of avant garde poetry, newly acquired papers from independent scholar Robert Bringhurst, a substantial collection of books on books (bibliography or paper-making, book-binding, book illustration, typography), and resources on B.C. environmental and social issues.

To learn more about Special Collections’ holdings, visit or contact Special Collections, attend the readings and talks based on its collections and check out the displays on the third and seventh floors of the Bennett Library.

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