Ken Sawdon, new Head Librarian for the Fort St. James Public Library. Photo Fiona Maureen

New Fort St. James Head Librarian has a vision

“We are limited only by our imagination,” says Library Board Chair Louise Evans-Salt

On July 10, Fort St. James Public Library welcomed Ken Sawdon as the new Head Librarian. Ken was raised in Calgary, received his Bachelors in English Studies in Lethbridge, and his Masters of Library and Information Studies in Edmonton.

While in Library School, Ken participated in student groups doing conference planning and providing services and resources to marginalized groups. His studies focused upon intellectual property, library policy, and metadata which is basically descriptive ways to catalogue and organise information so it’s easier to find and manage.

After graduating Ken worked as a curator and metadata specialist for a stock footage company while also blogging about current affairs in libraries for an office of the American Library Association. Outside of school and work, Ken is a fan of many genres and styles of fiction, movies, music, and video games. He is also a casual runner, having jogged in several half-marathons, 10 kms, and 5 kms in the last few years, and he pays bass guitar as a hobby.

Ken brings with him much focused energy and ambition. His specialised qualification and fresh outlook together with the community knowledge and nine years’ local library experience of Assistant Librarian, Flora, will make them a formidable team.

“As far as my vision or plan for what comes next for the Public Library,” says Head Librarian, Ken Sawdon, “even a few weeks into my role, I see a lot of potential for the library. The Board, staff, District, community, and the previous Head Librarian, as well as everyone involved with the library in the past, have built a space that people have grown to love and rely upon.”

“My hope is to not only maintain a good relationship with our current patrons, but to expand our patron base, increase long-lasting community partnerships, develop staff expertise, and increase access to information and services for the whole community.”

The library building was built in 2006 and it still feels brand new. It’s clear to see it was designed with care and respect for the purpose which a library fulfills in the community. The open concept with high ceilings, large windows and incredibly stunning wood crafted design features make the library feel like a really modern, yet earthy, inviting and uplifting space.

It’s interesting that the Fort St. James Public Library’s growing DVD collection has become very popular, especially since the local video store has closed its doors.

In the children’s books section there aren’t just books – there is a great play space ‘tree house’, a toy chest and comfortable reading area. There are several computers for public use and free wifi access too. There are washrooms on the ground floor and an elevator for wheelchair access to the loft upstairs. The upstairs area is equipped with tables and chairs, ideal for boardroom-type meetings and there is enough space upstairs as well for a yoga class or doing craft activities, for example. Anything is possible. A unique feature of the library is an open landscaped green space adjacent to the building which serves as an outdoor area with endless possibilities. “We are limited only by our imagination,” says Library Board Chair, Louise Evans-Salt.

“A library should be a hub for the community, and I want the Fort St. James Public Library to grow as a vibrant and central core of our town as well as the region,” says Sawdon.

“We may be a small library on the surface, but with inter-library loans Fort St. James has access to an infinite amount of books and resources. Ordering something from another B.C. library takes only a few days,” says Evans-Salt.

The Library is governed by a volunteer board which ensures all policy and procedure adheres to provincial regulations and guidelines of North Central Library Federation. Board Chair, Louise Evans-Salt, says the Fort St. James Library is actively recruiting new volunteer board members and are particularly interested in attracting more diverse board member representation from the community. “Someone with a different outlook perhaps, another language even, would be a wonderful asset.”

To find out more about library programs and services, and view the 2016 Strategic plan, visit

Interested in volunteering as a library board member? Do you have suggestions or ideas on what you would like to see happening at the Fort St. James Public Library? Please email:

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Nicholas grade 8 and his brother Isaac grade 2 playing computer games at the Fort St. James Public Library on Sept 14. Photo Fiona Maureen

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