UBC Library pays $202,000 for a single book

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Standing behind this $202,000 book are Melody Burton, Head Librarian, Katherine Kalsbeek Head of Rare Books and Special Collections and Dr. Gregory Mackie, assistant professor in UBC’s department of English. Photo: UBC Library
Standing behind this $202,000 book are Melody Burton, Head Librarian, Katherine Kalsbeek Head of Rare Books and Special Collections and Dr. Gregory Mackie, assistant professor in UBC’s department of English. Photo: UBC Library

Contrary to what our headline might lead you to believe, the staff and faculty at the UBC Library are not trying to get a feeling of what it’s like to purchase expensive textbooks at the beginning of each school year. No, they paid $202,000 in order to position the facility next to the likes of Oxford and Cambridge who also own copies of an incredibly rare book known as the Kelmscott Chaucer (Works of Geoffrey Chaucer). It took them two full years of fundraising efforts between the Library and the faculty of arts and they’re now able to hoist this thing over their heads as a shining symbol of their position as a world class learning institution… or something like that.

Printed in 1896 by William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, the production was limited to an edition of 438 copies and appears to be not only rare, but a work of art. They plan to use it not only for English studies but also for classes on book design.

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They sent us THIS INFORMATION about it along with some photos and a note that it’s not only for students, and that the general public are also allowed to peruse it. If I paid $202,000 for a book I certainly wouldn’t let people put their paws on it without wearing gloves, as shown in the provided photo below! So, good on you, UBC, for opening up this rare work for all of our greasy paws to enjoy!

Kelmscott-Chaucer