Fifty-year old Archer Library still an architectural marvel and more than relevant in the digital age

By Costa Maragos Posted: October 18, 2017 2:00 p.m.

Celebrating Saskatchewan Library Week and the 50th anniversary of the Dr. John Archer Library. Some former University Librarians joined us for the celebration. (l-r) William (Bill) Sgrazzutti, Peter Resch, President Dr. Vianne Timmons, Brett Waytuck, current University Librarian, George Maslany and Margaret Hammond.
Celebrating Saskatchewan Library Week and the 50th anniversary of the Dr. John Archer Library. Some former University Librarians joined us for the celebration. (l-r) William (Bill) Sgrazzutti, Peter Resch, President Dr. Vianne Timmons, Brett Waytuck, current University Librarian, George Maslany and Margaret Hammond. Photo by Trevor Hopkin - U of R Photography

On Monday, Deputy Minister of Education Rob Currie proclaimed Oct.16-21 Saskatchewan Library Week.

That he did so in the Dr. John Archer Libary of his alma mater seemed fitting. That he was there to kick off year-long 50th anniversary celebrations for the Dr. John Archer Library was destiny.

“A few years ago, as a young student, I took my first history class right here at the University of Regina from Dr. John Archer himself,” says Currie, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Campion College at the U of R. “He was a man of great oratory skills and outstanding storytelling abilities. To me, the delivery of that history course was as impactful and engaging as the content itself.”

Like it was during Currie’s university days, the Archer Library, in this digital age, continues to be the heart of the University.

More students and researchers than ever rely on the library’s resources. Gone is the card catalogue, replaced by e-resources. Digital images have largely replaced micromaterials. Books and periodicals, however, are still very much in use right alongside the Library’s massive electronic collection.

Today the University Library has a collection of 2.5 million items – with 89,000 e-journal titles and more than 450,000 e-books.

This year, the Library powered up its search engine with Quick Find, a user-friendly, cloud-based system that allows users faster and more thorough searches than the old system.

“Look around our Library and you see study tables and meeting rooms crammed with students from across Regina, the province, Canada, and the world, working collaboratively to build a bright future for us all,” says Brett Waytuck, University Librarian.

Library Students
Students continue to rely on the vast resources offered by the University library. Photo - External Relations

The Library building opened October 14, 1967.  It, along with the adjoining Wascana Centre, was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the architect behind the original World Trade Centre buildings in New York.

Yamasaki, who passed away in 1986, attended the grand opening 50 years ago.

“Mr. Yamasaki called this the Taj Mahal of buildings on campus,” said President Dr. Vianne Timmons, addressing the crowd at Monday’s event. “He put extra care into the planning and finishing of this building. Look around you today and you see the beautiful arches, the graceful first floor, and the sense of limitless space as envisioned by the architect. The overarching vision for the building has stayed the same as well.”

Many changes have occurred within the library’s walls since the doors opened five decades ago.

Margaret Hammond was there for many of those changes. She was head of Reference and Circulation and attended the library’s grand opening 50 years ago.

“They were still laying the carpet the night before the official opening,” says Hammond who retired in 1999. “Much has changed with the introduction of the computers. But you still have to know what you are looking for and the best sources to find things. Librarians are the ones who are professionals in helping people to find things.”

In 1999, the library was named the Dr. John Archer Library in honour of the University’s first president who described it as the “spiritual heart of the University.”