Dr. John Archer Library Name

The phone didn't stop ringing in the Archer household the day after the Main Library was renamed the Dr. John Archer Library. Friends and colleagues were calling to congratulate the first president of the University of Regina on the honour, but all the attention has not gone to his head; rather, it has been a humbling experience. For Archer, the significance lies in the fact that the first building named after an individual houses two things near and dear to his heart: the library and the archives.

"I’m very pleased with it, but keep in mind that it is the University’s tribute to the library and the idea of libraries," says Archer.

At an unveiling ceremony on Sept. 7, Board of Governors Chair Brian Johnson and U of R President David Barnard praised Archer for his many contributions both at the University and throughout his lengthy professional career.

"As a historian, librarian and archivist, Dr. Archer has made significant contributions to our province and to our university," Johnson said. "It is fitting that the first University of Regina building named after an individual honours Dr. Archer."

In his 85 years, Archer has spent a great deal of his life in both libraries and archives. He says the two are not "poles apart," as some would believe.

"Both are deeply committed to scholarship," says the man who has held positions with the Saskatchewan Provincial Library, and has served as Saskatchewan legislative librarian, assistant clerk of the Saskatchewan Legislature and Saskatchewan provincial archivist. Archer was also an associate professor of history at Queen’s University and director of libraries at McGill University.

In 1970, Archer was appointed principal of the Regina Campus, then part of the University of Saskatchewan. In 1974, he was appointed the first president of the University of Regina (see archives column on page 4). After leaving the presidency in 1976, he continued at the University as a professor of western Canadian history and as a historian with the Saskatchewan Archives Board.

Born on a farm in the Pipestone area of Saskatchewan, Archer served in the Second World War before obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, McGill University and Queen’s University. He holds an honorary degree from the University of Regina.

An author of numerous books and articles, Archer continues to work in the area of Saskatchewan history including the encyclopedia of Saskatchewan.

The unveiling last week of the new sign in front of the Dr. John Archer Library brought him full circle: In 1967, as library director at McGill, he stood in front of the Library as the guest speaker at the official opening of the building. Since then, some things have not changed.

"All through the University, there’s a deep feeling the library has to be kept up, that if there’s any extra money, it should be put there. It was that way in my day and still is."