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Vancouver Public Library has a comprehensive collection of materials to help with local history research. Much of this material can be found in Special Collections at the Central Library.

Hours: Monday - Saturday: 10:00am - 5:00pm.

VPL maintains the Northwest History Collection, a heritage collection about BC and the Northwest Coast, which includes directories for BC communities back to the 1800s, books, periodicals, early BC newspapers on microfilm, government documents, maps, and pamphlets. Special Collections is also home to rare books as well as historical Canadian literary works, children's books and over 250,000 historical photographs.

CPR station and Deadman's Island in distance (9384)

Historical Photographs

Vancouver Public Library's historical photographs database provides access to over 40,000 images, mostly of Vancouver and British Columbia from the 1880s to the 1990s. Search by keyword or date, or browse by topic. Digital copies of photographs from this database can be ordered online for a fee and sent electronically.

Exterior of Cecil Green Park House and gardens (44567B)

Vancouver Building Register

The Vancouver Building Register provides brief information on buildings in the City of Vancouver. Most buildings covered are in the central business district and are public. Private residences are included if there is significant information about them. The heritage designation is used to indicate those buildings with legal protection.

New type of magazine rack (26543)

British Columbia Index

This is a finding tool for documents and facts related to the history of British Columbia. Vancouver Public Library created the index to supplement information found in standard reference sources and major news databases. This index includes references to chapters or excerpts in books, articles in unindexed news sources such as local magazines, newsletters and newspapers, and uncatalogued material and pamphlets.

Vancouver Public Library's Special Collections include content created over several centuries that tells an incomplete and often distorted story of our province and country. Some materials include language or images that are racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive and discriminatory. Such items reflect biases, norms, and perspectives of the time in which they were created that are unacceptable today.

In recognition of the negative impact of language and images, the Library is working to update and change descriptions of content to ensure that they are inclusive and respectful, replacing inappropriate language or terminology used during earlier cataloguing practices. This is an ongoing process.

There are also certain offensive terms that will not be changed in order to function as historical evidence of past attitudes and viewpoints. Examples include description or commentary provided by the work's creator, or actual names such as the Cariboo Indian Girls Pipe Band. When possible these terms will be part of the description rather than title.

If you see records with inappropriate language or content that you think the Library should review, please contact us at Provide as much detail as possible, including an accession number where available.

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