It’s the 20th birthday of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the book that started both a literary phenomenon and pop culture tidal wave. In 2015, UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections began acquiring complete sets of first editions of the Harry Potter series. Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) houses significant collections of rare books, archival materials, historic maps, photographs, broadsides and pamphlets. RBSC has had strengths in classic children’s literature since the mid-1960s. It’s Arkley Collection of Early and Historical Children’s Literature comprises more than 12,000 Canadian, British, and American children’s books, serials, and manuscripts. In the summer of 2015, RBSC began the process of acquiring complete sets of the US, UK and Canadian first editions of the Potter series. As books were added to the collection, RBSC learned more and more about the profound and surprising connections that Vancouver shares with the Harry Potter series (for example, Kidsbooks in Vancouver was the first bookstore in all of Canada to carry Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and hosted four legendary book release parties, while Raincoast Books in Vancouver published the Canadian editions of the Harry Potter series until 2010). Collecting the Harry Potter books not only ensures that scarce first or special editions of these works can be properly cared for and made accessible to Canadians for generations to come, but allows RBSC to promote the story, not only of one of the most important series in children literary history, but also the story of the impact that the series had on the people, the business, and the cultural landscape of Vancouver.
Irena Trebic curated a Harry Potter at David Lam Library research guide last fall. Use this guide to learn about articles, theses, and books written about the Harry Potter series as well as business-related themes such as leadership, teamwork, ethics, and millennial which the series inspires.
Are you interested in seeing the first edition books in RBSC’s collection? Join a weekly tour of the Rare Books and Special Collections department every Wednesday from 11 a.m.–12 p.m.