Celebrating John Davis Barnett

Published on September 04, 2018

Celebrate the anniversary of John Davis Barnett's gift to Western

In 1918, John Davis Barnett founded Western's library by donating his personal library of 40,000 books. Barnett was an engineer with the Grand Trunk Railroad who travelled across eastern North America collecting a surprisingly wide range of books, from Shakespeare to astronomy to regional history.

As we celebrate this extraordinary man and his legacy, we look to the future of Western Libraries with a series of activities. Please join us!



John Davis Barnett: Remembering the Man, Celebrating the Legacy
John A. Schweitzer Gallery (ARCC) and The D.B. Weldon Library (main hall)
September 11 - October 31

Uncover John Davis Barnett - the person and his 40,000 book collection - through these exhibitions of his personal papers and rare books within his collection.



Watch as students construct sculptures from books, share pics from our photo booth, enjoy refreshments and meet John Davis Barnett himself!



Explore the history of the book and the future of literacy in this fascinating academic panel.

  • Catherine Steeves - Vice Provost and Chief Librarian (Moderator)
  • Mike Ridley - Librarian at the University of Guelph and PhD student Library and Information Science program, with a research focus on artificial intelligence, literacy, and information behaviour
  • Scott Schofield - professor of English, Huron University College, with a research focus on Renaissance literature, the digital book, and history and future of reading



Stratford Perth Archivist Betty Jo Belton and John Davis Barnett himself will highlight the extraordinary life of Barnett, leading citizen of Stratford who established Western's library.



To build on John Davis Barnett's visionary gift to Western, Western Libraries is advancing a project to share knowledge with anyone, anywhere, by digitizing important elements of our unique collection. Learn more about this project to extend the reach of our collection further than Barnett could have ever imagined.