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Collection Management Policy of
The National Library of Canada

A Summary

February 1993
(Revised August 1999)



Mission of the National Library


Library Development
Resource Sharing
Preservation Collection
Special Collections
Service Collection
Machine-Readable Records
Cataloguing Levels
Bilingual Treatment
Cataloguing Priorities
Historical Approach to the Development
 of Canadian Society
Canadian Literature
Canadian Music and Music in Canada
Library and Information Science in Canada
Collection in Support of National Library Staff
National Resource Collections
Federal Libraries Support


This document is a summary of the National Library of Canada's Collection Management Policy (1990) and its subsequent revisions. The complete 260-page policy is available for consultation or can be borrowed on interlibrary loan. Collection policy relating to networked electronic publications is not covered in this summary but can be found in the document, Networked Electronic Publications Policy and Guidelines (October 1998).

The Collection Management Policy is intended to provide specific, integrated strategies, priorities and policies for developing, accessing and maintaining the Library's collections.


The National Library is dedicated to building a world-class national resource enabling Canadians to know their country and themselves through their published heritage and to providing an effective gateway to national and international sources of information.

Fundamental to the achievement of the National Library's mission is its collection, at whose core must be the foremost collection of published Canadiana in the world.

The National Library also plays a major role in fostering the development of library resources and services throughout the country and facilitating resource sharing among Canadian libraries.



"Canadiana" is material published in Canada, and material published in another country if the creator is Canadian or the publication has a Canadian subject.

"Creator" may include the a) author (writer), b) translator, c) editor, d) compiler, e) illustrator, f) composer, g) lyricist, h) arranger, i) performer, j) producer, k) exhibition curator, l) chairperson of a committee issuing a report, m) binder, n) printer, or o) a person who has assumed another creative function.

"Canadian creator" is

  • a Canadian citizen;
  • a permanent resident in Canada;
  • a resident in Canada during the time that the Canadiana material was created;
  • a former Canadian citizen who trained and developed professionally in Canada before taking up residence elsewhere and who is still generally recognized as being Canadian.

"Canadian subject" focusses on

  • a Canadian place, personality, group, event, policy, activity, experience, theme or any combination of the above;
  • Canadian involvement in a place, group, event, policy, activity, theme or any combination of the above.

The definition excludes topics relating to Canada only by association or common interest.




The National Library acquires published Canadiana in all formats.

The National Library may enter into agreements with other institutions to ensure the acquisition and preservation of certain categories and types of Canadiana elsewhere in the country.

The National Library acquires unpublished Canadiana selectively to support the published literary and musical heritage, and to support library development.

The National Library acquires Canadiana through legal deposit, purchase, gift, exchange and other arrangements.

The National Library acquires copies of Canadiana for preservation and for service.


In addition to the relevant Canadiana, the National Library acquires non-Canadiana (material published outside Canada, and without a Canadian creator or a Canadian subject) selectively.

The National Library acquires non-Canadiana selectively to support research in the following areas of special emphasis:

  • Canadian music and music in Canada
  • Canadian literature
  • an historical approach to the development of Canadian society

The National Library acquires non-Canadiana reference material to support research on the published Canadian heritage and in the areas of special emphasis, and to meet national and international information needs on Canadian topics.

The National Library acquires non-Canadiana reference works to support the Jacob M. Lowy Collection, a gift of rare Hebraica and Judaica that was given to the National Library in 1977.

The National Library acquires non-Canadiana through purchase, gift, and exchange.

The National Library acquires non-Canadiana for service, usually in single copy.

Library Development


The service copy of Canadiana acquired and retained for heritage purposes also supports the needs of library development in Canada and the operational needs of National Library staff.


The National Library acquires non-Canadiana selectively to support library development in Canada and to support the operational needs of National Library staff.

Resource Sharing


The service copy of Canadiana acquired and retained for heritage purposes is available for resource-sharing purposes in fulfillment of the National Library's responsibility for Universal Availability of Publications (UAP).


In addition to the non-Canadiana acquired to support heritage and library development, the National Library acquires non-Canadiana selectively to support resource sharing.

The National Library will acquire and retain non-Canadiana selectively in the social sciences and humanities for titles which are not widely held elsewhere in order to ensure their availability in Canada.

The National Library acquires non-Canadiana reference material selectively

  • to support its interlibrary loan and location service in the social sciences and humanities;
  • to support an effective referral network in the social sciences and humanities among Canadian libraries and links internationally;
  • to support a backup reference service to other Canadian libraries in those areas of the social sciences and humanities required for national self-sufficiency;
  • to assist federal libraries in meeting the information needs of government in the social sciences and humanities.


In general, the National Library retains all Canadiana in all formats. However, due to the nature of certain types of publications, some materials may not be retained.

Material falling outside the Collection Management Policy that could be better used elsewhere will be made available to the library community.

All deselection will be undertaken on a selective basis according to criteria, such as

  • external demand,
  • available resources and expertise,
  • space,
  • condition of materials,
  • cooperative agreements,
  • degree of cataloguing access.

The National Library endeavours to ensure continued access to the deselected material to keep it available to the Canadian library community.


The National Library takes preservation measures to ensure the longevity of its collections. (See also: National Library of Canada Preservation Policy, 1989.)

Preservation Collection

The National Library preserves Canadiana through the existence of a separately housed preservation collection which consists, in principle, of one original copy of all Canadiana held by the National Library. The primary objective of this collection is to preserve Canadiana in all media.

Special Collections

The National Library preserves its special collections which are separate collections of library materials of exceptional rarity or value with concentration on particular subjects or formats. These collections are given distinct treatment in various aspects of library operations.

Service Collection

The National Library preserves its service collection to ensure that items are available for on-site and off-site use.


Machine-Readable Records

The National Library provides machine-readable bibliographic records to ensure access to all of its holdings.


  • all currently acquired material will be given a machine-readable bibliographic record in a timely manner;
  • machine-readable bibliographic records will be created for material in National Library collections for which no such records currently exist.

Cataloguing Levels


Description and access as defined in the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, second edition, 1998 revision (AACR2R 1998) and standard subject access, specifically subject headings and classification, are used by the National Library. A cataloguing level consists of level of description, including access points (name access, subject access, shelf access).

  • Full level: the highest level record, corresponds to AACR2 first level of description, with subject headings and Dewey and LC classification, full authority work.
  • Minimal level: a middle level record, may have fewer access points, no subject headings, LC classification for most items, authority work, shortened Dewey number, limited notes.
  • Abbreviated level: a brief record intended for identification only, access is limited to one access point beyond the main entry, few notes, classification only if needed for shelving, no subject headings, no authority work.


The National Library assigns levels of cataloguing depending on the nature of the material. Full cataloguing treatment is accorded to titles covered under the National Library's Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) program, to many federal government documents distributed through the Depository Services Program (DSP), to items intended for the National Library's special collections, and to current Canadiana in the National Library's areas of special emphasis (Canadian literature, Canadian history, and music in Canada). Minimal level cataloguing is accorded to most other items. Abbreviated level cataloguing is used for mass market paperback fiction, ephemera and other minor publications, less significant educational materials, and older publications.

Bilingual Treatment

The National Library catalogues its collections in a bilingual manner. This is achieved by providing bilingual access points for all Canadian material and by providing bibliographic descriptions in English, French or both languages depending on the publication.

Cataloguing Priorities

Cataloguing priorities are designed to ensure that users will have access to records for the most important current items within the shortest time period possible.


The National Library provides service based on the following conditions:

  • that the Service Collection is available for on-site use, by registered users, and for off-site use through interlibrary loan
  • that the Preservation Collection of Canadiana is a restricted-use collection available on-site only under supervision and is not available through interlibrary loan.

In principle the National Library obtains one or more service copies or creates surrogates for service. Items which are not available for off-site use can be made available through the use of surrogates (or reproduction service).

The National Library accedes to restrictions on the use of certain materials for a limited time period as required by publishers and donors (e.g., public opinion poll results, student answer books, personal correspondence). The National Library complies with restrictions when copyright clearance has been obtained only for a limited user group (e.g., disabled).

The National Library encourages the use of surrogates rather than originals for service in cases where the originals are not suitable for regular use (such as, rare or fragile items) or the only original is in the Preservation Collection.

Subject to copyright legislation, surrogates may be created using microforms, photocopies, optical discs or other technologies.

Specific areas of special emphasis have been identified where the collections, access tools and staff expertise support in-depth services: Canadian music and music in Canada, Canadian literature, an historical approach to the development of Canadian society, and library and information science.

The National Library provides bibliographic services by making its records available in a variety of formats nationally and internationally.


The National Library promotes the Canadian published heritage, Canadian studies and research in the areas of special emphasis.



The National Library subscribes to the Canadian Library Association Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom and in its Collections Guidelines agrees that

"It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity including those which some elements of society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. To this end, libraries shall acquire and make available the widest variety of materials." (CLA Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom. Amended Nov. 18, 1985)

The National Library complies with the policy of the Treasury Board of Canada on Management of Government Information Holdings and in its Collections Guidelines:

  • acquires all material published by or for federal government institutions;
  • may acquire "copies of unpublished documents... if they support or provide historical context to institutional policies and programs; complement other published material; or are intended for general distribution and can be made available to the public." (MGIH 1989, p. 22)

With regard to unpublished federal government information holdings in its collections, the National Library complies with the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act.

The National Library complies with the Copyright Act in all its collection management activities.




The core of the National Library's collection must be the foremost collection of Canadiana in the world. The acquisition and preservation of the published heritage of Canada is assured primarily through the development of the National Library's own collection.

Where it is impractical to develop central collections of particular categories and types of Canadian publications, the National Library works cooperatively with other libraries and institutions in Canada to ensure that collections of such materials are developed and preserved as part of a national resource.

In addition to material published in Canada, the National Library endeavours to collect as comprehensively as possible materials published abroad that contain the work of Canadians or works dealing directly with Canada, its citizens, or the role Canada plays in world affairs.

If a work has one-third Canadian content (authorship or subject), it is considered Canadiana. A publication with less than one-third Canadian content is to be acquired only if the Canadian portion of the work is judged to be significant in terms of Canada's published heritage, or if it has some content of significance for one of the areas of special emphasis, or if there is no other form of the information, e.g., directories, encyclopedias, statistical compilations.

Comprehensive acquisition

The National Library collects the following types of published Canadiana comprehensively in all formats:

agendas (with original text)
annual reports
art portfolios (with title page)
association/society literature
broadsides published before 1900
CD-ROMs and other databases in tangible form
college and university calendars
comic books
computer software
concert programmes
conference proceedings
electronic music
exhibition catalogues
large print books
livres d'artistes
loose leaf services
mass market paperbacks
microforms (including all available newspapers)
multimedia kits
music collections
ethnic, Native and student newspapers
non-commercial talking books
provincial and federal official publications
foreign and international official publications (considered Canadiana)
privately printed monographs
public opinion polls
published bibliographies
publishers' catalogues
recorded history
recorded books
research reports
sheet music
sound recordings
study guides
technical reports
separately published translations
video recordings.

Selective acquisition

All areas of special emphasis
catalogues of antiquarian dealers specializing in Canadiana
non-government press releases
unpublished bibliographies
Canadian literature, publishing and the book arts
advertising material and trade catalogues
one-of-a-kind livres objets, bookworks or book objects
twentieth-century broadsides
photographs of creative Canadians
Canadian music and music in Canada
advertising material and trade catalogues
photographs of creative Canadians
student papers
Library and information science
advertising material and trade catalogues
student papers

The National Library maintains, in original format, a representative collection of Canadian daily newspapers of all regions of the country, in the two official languages.

Separately published television and radio guides or schedules are collected selectively where there is substantial original text.

School yearbooks and annuals are collected for post-secondary institutions at the institution-wide level. Departmental yearbooks are collected only for departments or faculties of music and library and information science.

Municipal documents would be acquired and preserved most effectively through a decentralized program. Until such a program is established with other institutions, the National Library will continue to collect municipal documents selectively.

Much of the above material is acquired only as unsolicited gifts or as part of a collection rather than through active acquisition.


The National Library does not collect the following types of published Canadiana:

calendars of days and months
dance programs
ex libris (book plates)
film strips (unless part of kits)
financial statements
mass market paperbacks, sound recordings and videos merely printed or produced or pressed in Canada with no Canadian creator, publisher or subject
maps (separately published single sheets)
newspapers issued primarily for advertising purposes
weekly newspapers in original format
publications of local organizations such as
union locals, legion branches, individual schools,
individual churches, e.g.:
annual reports
reports promoting the sale of stock in one company
reprints which do not differ bibliographically from originals
service and operation manuals
theatre programmes
translations of periodical articles

Number of Copies

The National Library actively acquires two copies and generally retains up to three copies of all Canadiana with the exception of certain types of material noted in the following collection guidelines.

Historical Approach to the Development of Canadian Society


The National Library of Canada's collections supporting the study of the historical development of Canadian society are national in perspective and interdisciplinary in scope. This approach to the history of Canadian society is interpreted both chronologically and thematically, and recognizes the long and continuing association of France, Great Britain and the United States with its evolution. Within the chronology, the parameters of Canadiana change. Beginning with the Age of Discovery, Canadiana is continental in scope, gradually narrowing as the geopolitical boundaries of the nation are established. The themes, or principal subjects, evolve with the chronology: Native peoples; voyages and travels; immigration and settlement; economic development; political systems; foreign and international relations; social and cultural life, as a multicultural nation within a bilingual framework. The collection includes comprehensive holdings of monographs, serials, theses, newspapers and federal and provincial official publications published in Canada, as well as the same types of materials published abroad that have Canadian authorship or content. Canadiana will be collected in all languages and formats.


Recognized contributions to modern historiography, representing a broad range of points of view, are collected for events and movements that have affected Canadian society. For example, the American Revolution, the Underground Railway, the Irish Potato Famine, and the Hungarian Revolution are events that had a direct and significant impact on Canadian society, resulting in distinct patterns of immigration and settlement. Intellectual, philosophical and social movements also profoundly influenced Canadian society. Examples of such movements are French and British religious missions, the international labour movement, and racism as it affects the Native peoples of North America. Political and economic systems have also directly influenced Canadian society and are represented by standard scholarly works. Examples of this kind of impact are French and British mercantilism, the cod fisheries, constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy and free trade. Works on technological advances, such as inventions related to transportation and communications, are collected as they relate to the historical development of Canadian society. Non-Canadiana is collected predominantly in English and French and in all formats.


In this subject area, archival material is not collected. The rich collections of the National Archives of Canada complement the collections of the National Library.



The Jacob M. Lowy Collection consists of 3 000 volumes of rare Hebraica, and some Judaica, dating from the earliest days of printing in the 15th century and extending through five centuries. These books include ancient, medieval, and post-medieval Hebrew literature (Bible, Talmud, commentaries, legal codes and response, philosophy, mysticism, liturgy, history, belles-lettres, and science).

Maintained together with the Lowy Collection is the Saul Hayes Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts, comprising several hundred original Yemenite and Oriental manuscripts in Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic and Judeo-Persian, as well as 500 reels of microfilms (and microfiches) of medieval biblical and rabbinic manuscripts held in libraries in Budapest, Warsaw, and a very few held in Leningrad.

The holdings of the Lowy Room are supported by a reference collection of over 1 250 volumes of Hebraic and Judaic bibliographic and reference literature, with particular strength in Hebrew bibliography and the history of Hebrew printing. A number of important microform collections, including films of rare Hebrew and Yiddish books, manuscripts, and also catalogues and bibliographies, supplement the holdings of the Lowy Room.

Although occasional gifts of original rare Hebrew books and manuscripts are added to the holdings of the Lowy Room, current collecting is focussed on bibliographic and reference literature relating to Hebraica and Judaica, and also (to a lesser degree) on microform sets and facsimile editions of rare Hebraica and Judaica, such as illuminated manuscripts.

Canadian Literature


The collection consists primarily of literary works of Canadian authorship published either within or outside Canada; works with Canadian characters, setting or other Canadian content; and critical or secondary works (including theses) on Canadian literature, regardless of authorship or origin. The literature collection also includes critical works on foreign literature by Canadian authors, editors, or translators and literary works by non-Canadians published in Canada. Conferences on literature held in Canada but published outside the country, and anthologies or collected works containing either significant or substantial Canadian content are also collected. Young adult and children's materials are collected in addition to the adult materials. Canadian literary manuscripts, papers, and illustrative materials are collected selectively to complement the published resources. The collection also reflects the connection between Canadian literature and literary publishing and fine printing in Canada. Thus, there is an additional emphasis on the development of typography, design, illustration, papermaking and binding and the Canadian book industry and trade in all published formats.


Foreign works are acquired primarily to support research in Canadian literature. These may include works on literary history, theory, biography and criticism, studies in comparative literature and critical or thematic studies on areas in which Canadian writers have made a significant international impact. They may also include originals of works translated by Canadians. In addition, major works representing the literatures of nations which either influenced the development of Canadian literature and Canadian literary scholarship or which developed in a parallel fashion are also acquired in sufficient depth to place Canadian literature in context. Foreign writers with established links to Canada or Canadian literature and publishing are emphasized.

The Children's Literature Collection includes major award-winning books, classics, collections of folk and fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and books that mark a particular or important trend in books for children and young adults.

In support of the study of Canadian literary publishing, finely printed, illustrated and bound books, as well as those showing the technical and aesthetic development of fine printing and the book arts, are acquired by way of example. These materials complement the extensive holdings in this field, especially the Canadian livres d'artistes and publications of Canadian private presses.

Canadian Music and Music In Canada


The collection includes printed music and books about music published or printed in Canada, and by Canadians or about music in Canada published anywhere in the world; Canadian music periodicals; and commercial sound recordings and music videos in all formats that include Canadian composer, arranger, lyricist, performer, producer, subject or venue. All such material is acquired both currently and retrospectively and there is no limitation as far as language, genre or intellectual level.

In addition, personal and institutional archival collections of national musical significance are acquired. These include manuscripts of published and unpublished works, letters, photographs, scrapbooks, corporate records, private recordings and other memorabilia. Concert programs, posters, photographs, brochures and other vertical file material on Canadian individuals, associations, organizations, institutions and subjects are also collected on an individual basis. These documents complement and amplify the published (and recorded) musical heritage and provide the raw material for future research on music in Canada.

Unless they form an integral part of an archival collection, certain materials collected by other institutions are not acquired by the National Library. Cooperation with regional, provincial and municipal institutions is actively sought for the collection of musical documents of local interest.


Canadians perform the music of all nations and of all eras. Although this music is amply represented in Canadian sound recordings, no attempt is made to collect the printed counterparts of all these works, and selection criteria are stringently applied.

Significant works from other countries, particularly the compositions and critical literature of those nations which either influenced the development of Canadian composition, performance and musical scholarship, or which developed in a parallel fashion, are acquired in sufficient depth to provide context and research support for the study of Canadian music and music in Canada. Complete or representative works of major composers, national or genre anthologies, and definitive works of musical scholarship are collected to support the reference needs of the National Library staff and users, including those members of the Canadian library community who have no access to music collections or specialists. Every effort is made to coordinate the shared acquisition of high-cost items such as microform sets and facsimile editions. Certain areas of existing strength, such as musical biography and opera scores, are maintained on a selective basis and publications that support specific archival collections are also acquired.

Among the materials not collected are non-Canadiana sound recordings, videos and archival documents, unless they form an integral part of a Canadian archival collection.

Although the chronological scope of this supporting collection is primarily post-1800 and the geographic coverage largely European and North American, the continuity and interdependence of music is such that the basic repertory and literature from the medieval, renaissance, and baroque periods are included, as are anthologies of and writings about the national music of all cultures. Musical works which fall into these categories are not limited as far as language, but critical, theoretical, historical and biographical works are acquired, with few exceptions, only in English, French, Italian and German.


Archival collections of purely local significance are not acquired. Individual unpublished compositions, such as those available through the library of the Canadian Music Centre, are not collected. Unpublished tapes or transcriptions of folk music which are normally collected by the Canadian Museum of Civilization are not acquired by the National Library. Films on musical subjects and broadcast music recordings which are collected by the National Archives of Canada are not acquired by the National Library.



A reference work may be defined as a document containing a body of factual information, arranged to facilitate easy and rapid consultation, usually in alphabetical, chronological or systematic order. Subjects are generally treated in a superficial or synthetic fashion. By its nature, a reference work is used by many persons for short periods of time. Examples of the types of works included in the National Library's Reference Collection are almanacs, atlases, bibliographies, catalogues, chronologies, concordances, dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias, fact books, gazetteers, glossaries, handbooks, indexes, yearbooks, etc.

The National Library's Reference Collection supports the provision of a general reference service in the social sciences and humanities and a particular emphasis on Canadian studies. The Collection meets the reference needs of the Library's clientele by providing substantive, bibliographical, referral and location information. In addition, the Reference Collection supports resource sharing on a national and international scale through the provision of extensive bibliographical and verification sources, both Canadian and non-Canadian, such as national, and subject bibliographies, union lists, major library catalogues, indexing and abstracting services, publishers' catalogues and in-print sources, handbooks, biographical works, etc.

The Reference Collection includes an extensive set of Canadiana reference works in Canadian history, biography, political science, legislation, literature, statistics and bibliography. Canadiana reference works in the remaining social sciences and humanities disciplines are collected less intensively. This includes the areas of finance, business and economics, performing and fine arts, sociology, psychology, philosophy, religion and education.

Recognizing other government libraries' strengths, and owing to the National Library's formal agreement with the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI), only broadly-based or definitive Canadiana reference works are collected for the Reference Collection in the sciences, technology, medicine, agriculture, and naval and military sciences.

Non-Canadiana is acquired with cautious selectivity. Each non-Canadiana title is carefully evaluated as to its relevance, user need, unique contribution, quality, currency, language and price before it is acquired and added to the Reference Collection. Generally, non-Canadiana collecting focusses on publications from Great Britain, France and the United States or items of broad international coverage.

National, universal and trade bibliographies, major library catalogues, union lists, indexes, and international, European and North American directories are collected to provide bibliographic, referral and location information. Particular effort is made to obtain (usually through means of exchange programs), at least, the current national bibliography for all countries in which one is published. For countries of major English- or French-language output, as well as major Western European nations, greater depth is achieved in national, historical, trade and type of material bibliographies.


The National Library's special emphasis on the historical development of Canadian society is supported by a strong collection of reference materials that provides substantive information and increased access to the National Library's general, official publications and newspaper collections. Canadiana and selective non-Canadiana sources provide reference information to support Canadian research in the specific developmental themes of voyages and travels, Native peoples, immigration and settlement, political systems, economic development, foreign and international relations, and social and cultural life. Canadiana reference works that provide factual information or bibliographic access to the Library's extensive resources of Canadiana monographs, serials, official publications, newspapers, theses and microform sets are collected intensively. Canadiana sources addressing auxiliary sciences of history such as genealogy, heraldry, family and place names, and biography are, likewise, collected at a high level. Of particular strength is the collection of Canadian city and provincial directories, a heavily used print and microform collection which aims for comprehensiveness. Three sets of vertical files  -  General Reference, Official Publications and Newspapers  -  also supplement the catalogued Reference Collection in this area of special emphasis. Much of the demand for non-Canadiana placed on the National Library's Reference Collection is for comparative information to place Canada in its appropriate context internationally: comparative material in statistics, finance, business, systems of government, statutes, governmental policy, systems of education, and religion.


An extensive reference collection also supports the Library's special emphasis on Canadian literature and the book arts. In this area of special emphasis, the National Library collects biographical sources, bibliographies, indexes, dictionaries, directories, handbooks and other works focussing on Canadian writers and their literary output. Non-Canadiana collecting, with an emphasis on English- and French-language writers and literature and, in particular, the output of the United States, Great Britain and France is undertaken on a selective basis.


Demand for current Canadian business, marketing, trade, industry and financial information is particularly high from both the public and private sectors. The Reference Collection houses all the standard Canadian and selected non-Canadian business sources. The print collection is supplemented by online, CD-ROM and electronic resources which support the need for currency in business information.


The Reference Collection includes material in print, microform and machine-readable formats. CD-ROM products are acquired selectively on the basis of their relevance to Canadian studies, or their support of broad-based social science research or bibliographic verification.

Reference and Information Services supplements its in-house collections by subscribing to Canadian and non-Canadian online systems which provide access to databases of publicly available information worldwide. New systems are added based on their relevance to Canadian studies or coverage of information in the social sciences and humanities. Reference and Information Services' Computerized Information Service does not subscribe to systems specializing in scientific information, nor does it normally access scientific databases.

In general, items that are catalogued for the Reference Collection are published works, although a relatively small number of unpublished materials such as bibliographies are catalogued when the information contained in them is unique or valuable. In addition to the catalogued collection, pamphlets, typescripts, clippings and photocopies are retained in vertical files and in an uncatalogued section of the Quick Reference Area.


Library and Information Science in Canada


The items collected include monographs, serials, documents, reports, conference proceedings and papers, bibliographies, periodicals, newsletters, video and audio material, and newspaper clippings relating to library and information science in Canada. The focus of collecting is on current material at the research level in all available formats. Both published and unpublished materials are collected. The unpublished material includes studies, reports, bibliographies, conference papers, speeches and presentation materials, policy statements, manuals, how-to material, internal documents, floor plans, orientation material and ephemera. Canadian material is acquired through legal deposit, gifts and exchanges, and, in some cases, purchase.

In addition, vertical files have been established and maintained on a wide range of subjects relating to Canadian libraries, librarians and library development, such as biographical information; information on associations and organizations; meetings and conferences; academic, special, public, regional and school libraries; information on library systems and use of computers and automation in libraries; and library supplies and suppliers.


Reference and general material necessary to provide research support for the study and practice of library and information science is collected selectively, regardless of place of publication. Many of the reference tools cover Canada as well as the United States or Europe and are definitive or sole sources for some information. Non-Canadian manuals, directories, glossaries, abstracting and indexing tools are collected by the National Library since they are essential to support in-depth research in library and information science. The material is collected in all available published formats and, in some cases, in unpublished formats. Most of the material collected is in English or French but some foreign-language material considered necessary for research support may be acquired selectively.

The National Library is the Canadian depository for the conference papers of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Also, a selection of national and international standards relating to libraries is maintained, issued by bodies, such as American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Association française de normalisation (AFNOR), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and British Standards Institution (BSI).

Collection In Support of National Library Staff

Collecting is intended to support the work-related information needs of National Library staff. Selected material in library science, computer science, management, training, and general reference materials such as language dictionaries, thesauri and directories are collected. Selected items from other subject areas may be acquired in accordance with staff needs. The number of copies ordered will depend upon expected staff usage.


Both Canadiana (service collection) and non-Canadiana acquired to support heritage and library development are available for resource-sharing purposes. In addition, the Library's role in resource sharing is supported by the following collections:

National Resource Collections

Within Canada, the national collection available for resource sharing is the sum of many parts  -  the collections of individual libraries. Within these collections there are national or regional resource strengths, which other libraries have come to rely on.

Although developed primarily in support of the heritage role, two National Library collection areas are seen as national resources and will continue to be developed in response to resource-sharing needs, both for reference and lending.


The Reference Collection

  • supports resource sharing on a national and international scale through the provision of extensive bibliographic and verification sources, both Canadiana and non-Canadiana;
  • supports an effective referral network among Canadian libraries and links internationally;
  • supports a backup reference service to other Canadian libraries in those areas required for national self-sufficiency, as identified primarily through demand;
  • supplements federal libraries in meeting the information needs of government;
  • supports the provision of a basic, multi-disciplinary reference service with core reference sources.


The Music Collection

  • supports the reference needs of National Library staff and users, including those members of the Canadian library community who have no access to music collections or specialists.

Federal Libraries Support

The National Library Act states that

"The National Librarian may coordinate the library services of departments, branches, and agencies of the government of Canada." Section 7 (2)

Traditionally, the federal library community has made extensive use of the collections of the National Library, especially of the foreign serials collection. As it focusses its acquisitions activities on Canada's published heritage, the National Library is reducing the size and content of the foreign serials collection to reflect the new orientation.

The National Library will continue to support the needs of the federal libraries through its service collections, including Canadiana and the special collections, such as Reference and Library Science.