A piece of UBC Library now resides in the tiny Dora Drinkwater Community Library on Denman Island, B.C.
One of the massive card catalogues is being used to keep track of the 5,000-book collection donated by Denman residents.
Jean Cockburn moved to Denman after her retirement as a librarian at Douglas College. She took on the community library “as a bit of a project.”
“There was no equipment,” Cockburn says. “No trolleys, no card catalogue – all the cards were written by hand and kept in old metal drawers.”
A former colleague helped prospect for the needed items. Only one place still had card catalogues available: UBC Library’s Library Processing Centre (LPC), which was being vacated to accommodate research units and the School of Population and Public Health.
The card catalogue that made a trip to Denman Island squashed in the back of Cockburn’s Subaru wagon was one of thousands of items that were removed from the LPC. These likely would have ended up in a landfill, but for a one-woman sustainability effort co-ordinated by Mary Cheng, Library Administrative Clerk.
Where possible, Cheng saw that the Library’s surplus goods got a second life. Her careful records include sheaves of thank you letters from homeless shelters, non-profit organizations and many schools that have hauled away the Library’s unneeded furnishings – including study carrels, oak tables, assorted chairs and room dividers.
Denman’s Cockburn is using the Library’s circulation cards and due date slips. The Dora Drinkwater Library hasn’t yet gone electronic (it circulates about eight books a day), so these come in handy.
“I was really impressed with the generosity and conviviality of UBC,” Cockburn says. “It’s a very large organization and here I approached one individual, she passed it on, and everyone said, ‘Yeah, I can make this happen.’
“I feel good about it,” Cheng nods. “Everything is balanced now: the tax dollars spent, and the environment. I know the furniture went to a good home.”