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Rare Books and Special Collections

Goal $25,000

Raised $335

5 days left


Rare Books and Special Collections

Help UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) complete its collection of UK, US and Canadian Harry Potter first editions, by supporting us to purchase an extremely rare UK first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Story Description

As the most popular children’s literature series in generations, with a global impact equaling Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Harry Potter has a natural home in RBSC’s children’s literature collection. Consequently, 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.

Challenges & the Impact of Your Support

Though it’s hard to believe now, the release of the first Harry Potter books happened without much fanfare. Only 500 hardcover copies of the UK first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were printed, and 300 of those went straight into libraries throughout the world. At this point, many of the 300 library copies have been removed from those library collections due to wear and tear, or other reasons. That means that only around 200 copies of the first edition, first printing of Philosopher’s Stone have ever been available on the market. RBSC at UBC Library recently identified a copy that is up for sale and is hoping to get your support in purchasing this rare item. If RBSC is successful, this book would be the jewel in the crown of our growing Harry Potter collection.

If we are unable to raise sufficient funds to purchase the book, your donation will support future rare books purchases by RBSC.

About Rare Books and Special Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC), at the UBC Library, 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, when the exceptional Alice One Hundred Collection was donated to the Library by UBC’s graduating class of 1925. The original donation, comprised of nearly 500 items dating between 1858 and 1965, was rich in first, early, and limited editions of books by and about Lewis Carroll, and featured the work of more than 80 illustrators. The children’s literature collection continued to grow with the donation in 1976 of the Arkley Collection of Early and Historical Children’s Literature by Stan T. Arkley, a native of Vancouver and also a member of UBC’s class of 1925, and his wife, Rose. Today, through purchase and donation, the Arkley Collection of Early and Historical Children’s Literature comprises more than 12,000 Canadian, British, and American children’s books, serials, and manuscripts. The Arkley Collection has always prioritized popular works or “books that children actually read,” so it seems incredible that as late as spring 2015, Rare Book and Special Collections did not have a single Harry Potter book in its collection.