Woodward Blog

Science Literacy Week 2020: Woodward Library Book Recommendations

To celebrate Science Literacy Week, the Woodward/BMB Library team is sharing brief reviews of some of our favourite books on this year’s theme, biodiversity.


Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Braiding Sweetgrass beautifully blends personal stories with knowledge from many sources, asks questions, and prompts readers to learn from plants and Indigenous teachings. Reading Braiding Sweetgrass for me meant learning about pecan mast fruiting and other things I knew nothing about, but also hearing articulated some things that I grew up knowing but didn’t have words for. In 2020, seven years after it was published, Braiding Sweetgrass joined the New York Times best seller list and is being read by almost everyone I talk to across wildly varying fields, spreading mostly by word of mouth and by gift, which is how I too started reading it. I’m sure that there is a plant metaphor for such relational growth and generous sharing…  -Helen Brown

Watch the UBC Library website for information on an upcoming talk by Dr. Kimmerer, and please see the related resource list here: guides.library.ubc.ca/scilit20/inspiredbybraidingsweetgrass


An enchantment of birds: memories from a birder’s life by Richard Cannings

This autobiographical book by Richard Cannings is written primarily about many of the common birds we see in BC and the author’s memories with those birds. The book is divided into chapters, one for each of the thirty species of birds covered, accompanied by an illustration of the species. If you enjoy narrative nonfiction and want to learn more about the habits and long term population trends of birds in BC, this is a charming way to do so.                      -Eleri Staiger-Williams




Reaktion Books Animal series titles

If you’re fascinated by a particular animal, there is likely to be a book about it in the Animal series published by Reaktion Books. Going beyond science, these books delve into the animal’s place in history, literature, art, music, and popular culture. I recommend three titles written by UBC authors that are available online: Badger by Daniel Heath Justice (2015); Kingfisher by Ildiko Szabo (2019); and Polar Bear by Margery Fee (2019). But you don’t have to stop there; the Library has over 40 more titles in its print collection-Sally Taylor


Traditional and Indigenous knowledge systems in the modern era: a natural and applied science perspective edited by David R. Katerere, et al

This timely, recent collection of digital essays and case studies examines traditional and Indigenous knowledge systems from around the world. The volume is logically organized with cross-cultural comparisons and exploration of the intelligence inherent in Indigenous medical and health practices and viewpoints. The book’s natural science angle will be relevant for all science students interested in exploring knowledge systems and the insight they provide around climate change, changes to global ecosystems and the world’s food supply. A further strength of this volume are the diversity of Indigenous viewpoints and its contributions from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and Persons of Colour) scholars from Africa, Europe, North America, Asia, and the West Indies. -Dean Giustini




Mountains: a very short introduction by Martin F. Price

My interest in this title stems from long mountain hikes and trail runs with friends where questions inevitably came up wondering whether or not the wildflowers bloomed earlier this year or if a glacier had receded more, and the larger question of how the warming climate might be impacting the mountains and the species who live there? This book provides an overview from mountain formations and life spans to their influence on the animals, the plants, and the people who live on and in their vicinity. Each section provides enough detail to answer basic questions while also introducing good jumping off points to dig deeper into a topic, such as glacial melt and its impact on human populations, or the survival of migrating birds like the broad-tailed hummingbird whose breeding season is being shortened because the flowers they depend on bloom earlier in the season. The book is chock full of mountain facts, referring to them as “biodiversity hotspots” as exemplified by Ecuador where “17,000 square kilometres of tropical mountain cloud forest contain 3,411 plant species” (p. 67). The book concludes with a section on climate change, and introduces research areas of forest management that can assist with carbon storage and opportunities for renewable energy. Other titles in the Very Short Introduction series include Climate Change, Forests, Waves, Coral Reefs, Savannas, Lakes, and Waves.   -Sarah Parker


Breaching the Peace: the Site C dam and a valley’s stand against big hydro by Sarah Katherine Cox

The imminent flooding of the Peace River Valley for the Site C Dam threatens a unique ecosystem with over 100 vulnerable species such as bull trout, Canada warbler, fishers and wolverines, as well as numerous outlier species. The region is a “northern Garden of Eden” and a key part of the Yellowstone to Yukon wildlife corridor. Flooding will also destroy dozens of sites of cultural significance to Indigenous people, prevent full exercise of Indigenous treaty rights, and submerge some of the best agricultural land in BC. Cox shares the heartbreaking details of all that may be lost and the struggle to preserve the valley. She also presents viable alternative energy sources to power BC – including wind, solar, and pumped storage hydro. Beautifully written and an essential read.  –Ursula Ellis



To learn more about biodiversity in BC, check out these other riveting reads available online from UBC Library:








On Display in the Memorial Room: “Wild observations: Canidae and felidae around the world”

“Wild observations: Canidae and felidae around the world” showcases a selection of books from Woodward Library’s collection. The books on display in Woodward Library’s Memorial Room answer questions like: how can you identify a tiger by its stripes, how have foxes adapted to urban life, and what’s a jaguarundi?

Running concurrently with cat and dog themed exhibits across multiple library branches, Woodward Library’s focus on wild members of the cat and dog families exhibits highlights of fossil history, genetics and conservation exploring what ties together species members worldwide. In addition to discussing the most urgent dangers to these animals, the items in “Wild observations” also show successful measures that have helped protect vulnerable species.

The Great Reads collection at Woodward will also get a cat-and-dog takeover on January 13th, with popular science and nonfiction books available to check out.

“Wild observations: Canidae and felidae around the world” will be on display in the Memorial Room at Woodward Library from January 6 to February 28, 2020. Additional cat and dog themed displays can be found at Rare Books and Special Collections, the David Lam Library, Koerner Library, and the Education Library.

-Chantal Lyons-Stevenson

Global Environmental Justice Collection

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UBC Library has subscribed to the Global Environmental Justice Collection, a curated collection of streaming documentaries that can be shown in the classroom.

The films are suitable for use in a wide range of subject areas including Asian, Indigenous and environmental studies, geography, film making, journalism, anthropology, conservation biology, forestry, soil sciences, religion and the humanities.

Associated teaching guides highlight the environmental justice aspect of each film. The guides also include synopses, background information, suggested subject areas, discussion questions, activities, transcripts and supplementary resources.

Librarians – a vital part of the medical research lifecycle at UBC

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Librarians play a critical role in the research lifecycle at UBC.

See how at the article: Unique skillset makes librarians vital to medical research at UBC.


New Bioengineering content in JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments)

JoVE publishes high-quality video demonstrations of experimental techniques with detailed text protocols to increase scientific reproducibility and productivity.

In addition to renewing our subscription, we have added JoVE Bioengineering. This collection features the application of engineering tools in the life sciences to study biological processes and develop new therapies and diagnostics.

Access to this peer reviewed scientific journal has been renewed with thanks to funds from the Thomas Christopher Brayshaw Memorial Endowment, W.K. Burwell Fund, Rodger Stanton Memorial Library Fund, and the Southern Medical Program.

UBC Library now provides access to five sections of JoVE: Bioengineering, Biology, Immunology and Infection, Medicine, Neuroscience.


Science Literacy Week – Please join us!

Get hands-on with UBC science and technology at Science Literacy Week (September 17-23, 2018)!

UBC's Seed Lending Library
Science Expo
Come explore robots, experiments, 3D printers, crafts, the Seed Lending Library, and more. Includes children’s activities and light refreshments.
UBC Farm Workshop & Science Expo
Get started with a seed saving workshop at UBC Farm (Seed Library members contact seed.library@ubc.ca for a discount code) & join the Seed Lending Library at the Science Expo.
National Learn to Code Day
Join the Intro to Browser Extensions with JavaScript workshop from Canada Learning Code and UBC Library.
When: Tues Sept 18, 10am-12pm
Where: Woodward Library
When: Fri Aug 30, 6-8pm (workshop)
Where: UBC Farm

When: Sat Sept 22, 10:15am-4:15pm
Where: Lillooet Rm, IKBLC 1961 East Mall

This year, UBC Library is celebrating with a Science Expo, to be held in the main entrance area of Woodward Library on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 from 10 a.m. to noon. Everyone, including students, faculty and the wider UBC community, is encouraged to drop by the event to visit the booths and get a glimpse of the amazing science that’s happening right on campus.

There will be several UBC Library partners at the event, including:

  • Beaty Biodiversity Museum
  • Canadian Blood Services
  • Engineering Physics
  • Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) at UBC
  • Open Science Network DIYBio
  • UBC Biomedical Engineering Student Team (BEST)

At UBC Library’s booth, expect to get hands-on with Arduino coding and electronics kits, interactive demos with AnatomyTV and Birds of North America, and more. We’ll also be talking about our Seed Lending Library, which allows anyone to pick up seeds free of charge, while providing opportunities to learn about gardening, seed saving, and agricultural research at UBC.

Draw for “seedy” gift basket

The Seed Lending Library works because borrowers return their seeds at the end of the season. With that in mind, we encourage you to save some seeds from your garden and return them to the UBC Seed Lending Library.

*** September seed donors can enter their name in a draw for a seedy gift basket! ***

Bring your seedy donations to one of the Seed Lending Library locations below, or to Science Expo.

Science Expo

Tuesday September 18th from 10am-12pm | Woodward Library

Free, family friendly event with activities and light refreshments

Come celebrate Science Literacy Week with fun activities and amazing science from organizations like the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, Open Science Network, Engineering Physics, the Seed Lending Library, and others.

Seed Lending Library locations:

Education Library, 2125 Main Mall

Woodward Library, 2198 Health Sciences Mall

Additional resources to help you easily save some seeds: 

Alternatively, if you didn’t manage to save seeds (confession – my family just harvested and ate all the peas I was planning to save!), please feel free to donate a package or two of commercially grown seeds.

More info at the UBC Seed Lending Library webpage guides.library.ubc.ca/seedlendinglibrary/save and at the library.

“And there’s the humour of it” display

The exhibition, “And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the four humors, will run from June 4 to July 14, 2018 at UBC

Continue reading ““And there’s the humour of it” display”

Earth Day @ Wesbrook Community Centre

When: Sunday, April 22, 2018 | 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Where: Wesbrook Community Centre Lounge, 3335 Webber Lane

Join the UBC Seed Lending Library for an Earth Day celebration. “Borrow”  a few seeds to get your garden started, enjoy a storytime performance and family friendly planting activities. Borrow picture books and gardening books from the UBC Library pop-up collection. Everyone is welcome to attend this free event.

Do you have seeds to share? The Seed Lending Library is accepting your non-hybrid, open-pollinated seeds to support our collection. Both saved and purchased seeds are welcome!

About the Seed Lending Library

The Education and Woodward Seed Lending Libraries allow anyone to “borrow” seeds free of charge. Our seeds come from the UBC Farm, West Coast Seeds, and the BC Eco Seed Co-op. They are well suited to local growing conditions, and promote sustainability and good health. We invite you to donate seeds from your crop at the end of the growing season.

Read more

Body Snatching & the Roots of Anatomy



Body Snatching & the Roots of Anatomy
Woodward Library, Memorial Room
Sept 18 – Nov 3, 2017


Andreas Vesalius’s great anatomical atlases allowed us to see inside the human body in revolutionary ways. His focus on human anatomy changed the way we practice medicine by encouraging anatomists, physicians, and students to gain practical experience with human dissection. Woodward Library’s Body Snatching & the Roots of Anatomy exhibit highlights how some of the great anatomists and texts changed the way physicians trained and practiced medicine, as well as the less savoury consequences of anatomy’s increased need for human bodies. By the 18th and 19th centuries, body snatching and the practice of dissecting executed criminals had grown significantly, both capturing the public imagination, and in the case of Edinburgh’s Burke and Hare, inspiring murder.