March 13, 2019

Glenbow Library and Archives on the move to University of Calgary

Relocation of massive collection of western Canadian history now underway
The first shipment of Glenbow materials arrives at the University of Calgary's High Density Library.

The first shipment of Glenbow materials arrives at the University of Calgary's High Density Library.

Dave Brown

The premiere archive documenting the history of western Canada is on its way to a new home at the University of Calgary. The physical move of the Glenbow Library and Archives began on March 11 with a delivery of 3,200 books. Last November, Glenbow and the university made the historic announcement to relocate the collection to the university, thanks in part to a generous donation made by Bill and Sharon Siebens and with the support of the Government of Alberta.

The move will enable Glenbow to focus on its role as a public art museum. It will retain artist files as well as books and archival materials related to the visual arts to complement its impressive collection of more than 33,000 works of art, the largest in western Canada.

Access to the Glenbow Library and Archives will increase at the new location, with reading room hours extended beyond those offered currently at Glenbow and through online access to an increased number of items which will be digitized or made available electronically by UCalgary. The university’s state-of-the-art facilities are specifically designed for long-term storage and preservation that few other institutions have.

A new facility, the Glenbow Western Research Centre, is planned for the second floor of the Taylor Family Digital Library and will open later this year. In the meantime, the Archives and Special Collections reading room on the fifth floor remains open to provide access to Glenbow materials and other collections. The reading room at Glenbow will remain open until the summer. Hours are Tuesday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Since the announcement, Glenbow and the university have been working collaboratively to manage the move of the Glenbow Library and Archives.

Teams are preparing for the massive migration of roughly 22 million pages of textual records, two million photographs, 125,000 books, 15,000 maps, 600 hours of audio recordings, as well as 4,000 videos and films.  

Blair Cherniawsky, facilities manager for Libraries and Cultural Resources, wheels in part of the first shipment of 3,200 books.

Blair Cherniawsky, facilities manager, wheels in part of the first shipment of 3,200 books.

Dave Brown

“It's tremendously exciting to bring to our campus materials of such significance to Canadian history and culture," says Mary-Jo Romaniuk, vice-provost (libraries and cultural resources). "The Glenbow Library and Archives will strengthen research, teaching and learning and ensure long-term preservation of the materials. We look forward to enhancing public access and welcoming members of the community and private researchers."

A working group comprised of Donna Livingstone (president and CEO of Glenbow), Mary-Jo Romaniuk, Susan Powelson (associate university librarian, Technology, Discovery and Digital Services), Annie Murray (associate university librarian, Archives and Special Collections) and Chris Harper (project manager) has been struck to oversee the migration.

The Glenbow Library and Archives will complement the university's existing strengths in historical and cultural collections including political papers pertaining to western Canadian politicians and organizations, the Canadian Architectural ArchivesEMI Music Canada Archivemilitary history collections and the papers of notable authors including Alice MunroMordecai RichlerRobert KroetschGuy Vanderhaeghe and W.O. Mitchell.

Teams at Glenbow and the university will work together to minimize any disruption in access to materials that may occur during the transition. Researchers may find information on the location of specific collections on the Archives and Special Collections website, which is updated regularly. Inquiries relating to Glenbow’s Library and Archives may be directed to  

The Siebens family’s contribution that helped create the Glenbow Western Research Centre is part of the university’s ongoing fundraising campaign, Energize: The Campaign for Eyes High.