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Queen’s welcomes new University Archivist and Associate University Librarian

Queen’s University is welcoming Ken Hernden as the new University Archivist and Associate University Librarian starting July 1. Coming to Queen’s from Algoma University, Hernden brings tremendous experience in library leadership, archival work, and collaboration with Indigenous communities to preserve Indigenous knowledge and records related to residential schools in Canada.

Ken Hernden
Ken Hernden arrives at Queen's as the new University Archivist and Associate University Librarian.

“We are very pleased to have Ken joining us in the Queen’s Archives,” says Michael Vandenburg, Acting Vice-Provost (Digital Planning) and University Librarian. “Ken brings with him considerable expertise, with a particular focus on Indigenous records and building inclusive collections, and I am certain he will be a key player in enhancing the work we are doing here in the Queen’s Library and in our role as a cultural heritage organization.”

As one of the oldest research libraries in Canada, Queen’s University Library is distinguished by archives that document the rich history and culture of the region and the university, by remarkable special collections and rare books, and by strong historical collections across the disciplines. The library and its passionate experts contribute to a network of cultural heritage institutions – galleries, libraries, archives and museums – that spans Queen’s campus, connects with the local community, and advances national heritage strategies.

“I am very excited to join Queen’s University Library, and to work with the university’s world-class collections and colleagues who hold a wealth of knowledge in different areas,” Hernden says. “I am energized by this fresh opportunity and the chance to blend my previous experience into this new work at Queen’s.”

Hernden was a member of Algoma University’s senior management team for more than a decade, as library director and later as university librarian. He served on numerous academic and administrative committees, as a director and past executive member of the Ontario Council of University Libraries, and as a voting member of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network.

While at Algoma, Hernden was responsible for creating the university’s first archives, from previously unorganized records and gifts of private papers and rare books that had accumulated for more than 40 years. Working with a small staff, he focused on establishing physical control of Algoma’s holdings and making records available online as much as possible. This led to the acquisition of important regional records, such as the Anglican Diocese of Algoma’s archives, which later complemented the university’s archival work concerning residential schools.

During his time at Algoma, Hernden secured significant funding that enabled the university and its partners to digitize tens of thousands of photographs and documents concerning the Shingwauk Indian Residential School (Algoma now operates on the site of the former school), as well as those of most of the residential schools across Canada. The rapid digitization of these records, starting in 2010, occurred at a critical moment in time when residential school survivors, the federal government, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada all needed access to these materials.

In 2017, Hernden was seconded from Algoma University to its Aboriginal Institute partner, Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, which was creating a “Teaching Wigwam” with an overall goal of providing education to Anishinaabe students. While there, Hernden secured funding for and developed the National Chiefs’ Library, a combined library, archives, and gallery that is now the official repository for the records of the National Chiefs and the Assembly of First Nations.

“I’ve always approached the work with a community-based focus – essentially saying, we’re here, we have this expertise, is there anything we do that is of use to you, and what can we do that blends naturally with what you are already doing,” Hernden says, of his work at Algoma. “We were not taking anything from anybody, and I was always very clear that if records were shared with us that we would only do things with those records that the community wanted done with them.”

Prior to his time at Algoma, Hernden held archivist positions at the Anglican Diocese of Huron, the University of Huron College, Rush University, and York University, and was head of reference and information systems at the North Bay Public Library.

“I would like to thank Paul Banfield for his many years of service to the Queen’s Library as University Archivist,” says Vandenburg. “His dedication and diligent work has provided a strong foundation for the Archives, and with Ken’s new position overseeing Archives as well as the W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Rare Books Library, we will build on that foundation and grow in new directions.”