The University of Calgary’s Bob Gibson Collection of Speculative Fiction consists of 28,000 published items of speculative fiction (SF), and reflects a lifetime of collecting by the late William Robert (Bob) Gibson. Following Bob’s passing in 2001, his son, Andrew Gibson, gifted the University of Calgary Library this remarkable example of speculative fiction.
The collection contains 1913 hardcover titles (some published as early as 1778), 24,030 softcover books, and runs of over 400 pulp magazine titles from the 1920’s to the early 2000’s. In addition to these published items, Mr. Gibson created his own personal anthologies of short fiction works published in British, American and Canadian periodicals from as early as 1870. There are 888 of these personal anthologies, estimated to contain roughly 6500 individual stories which Gibson deemed science fiction. The covers of these compilations list the contents of each anthology and have been hand-illustrated by Mr. Gibson. The collection was also enhanced by Mr. Gibson’s meticulous documentation and indexing of his items. There are over 10,000 author entries compiled on index cards and stored in three homemade wooden boxes. In some instances, the Gibson index is more complete than later published indexes for a particular author.
The Bob Gibson collection rivals those at other leading academic institutions. The University of Liverpool holds the largest collection in the UK with over 37,500 items. The University of Sydney numbers 80,000, after half a century of active collection. In the United States, the Eaton Collection at the University of California at Riverside is the largest with over 300,000 items. Here in Canada, the Gibson collection is second only to the Toronto Public Library’s Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation & Fantasy, which houses over 72,000 items.
The breadth and depth of the Gibson Collection make it a valuable resource for both Canadian and International scholars. It offers a unique insight into speculative fiction stories by authors and magazines not normally associated with the genre. The collection reflects society’s changing attitudes toward science and provides an outstanding resource for the study of culture from the 18th through the 20th century.