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News Release


Today in History: The National Library of Canada Turns 50

Ottawa, January 1, 2003 - Today, Canadians from coast to coast to coast are ringing in a brand new year. At the same time, the National Library of Canada is celebrating a very special birthday, its 50th.

On this day in 1953, the National Library of Canada was officially born through an Act of Parliament. With this Act, the population of Canada would have an official institution that collects, preserves and promotes its published heritage. Now, 50 years later, the National Library of Canada has close to 20 million items, including sound recordings on wax cylinders, the oldest newspaper printed in Canada, award-winning novels written by Canadian authors, a national union catalogue which provides free information on the collections of over 1300 libraries across the country, as well as a comprehensive and informative Web site.

"...its roots are instrumental to democracy itself - the unfettered dissemination of knowledge and information is vital to a society that prides itself on being free and open," said Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in his congratulatory message to the National Library.

Throughout the year, the National Library of Canada will feature a series of lectures, readings, exhibits and concerts to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The International Forum on Canadian Children's Literature, which will be held in June of this year, is the highlight of the 50th anniversary and will attract participants from across the country and around the world.

"Protector of our memory, home to our history and our stories, our Library is now everywhere, and it belongs to all Canadians," added Minister of Canadian Heritage Sheila Copps.

On its 50th anniversary, the Library is at the threshold of a new era. On October 2, 2002, Ms. Copps announced the creation of a new institution bringing together the rich collection and recognized expertise of the National Library and National Archives of Canada.

"The celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the National Library of Canada offer us the opportunity to celebrate the progress we have made up until now and to look forward to the progress we will make in the future as the Library and Archives of Canada," said National Librarian Roch Carrier.

For more information on the 50th anniversary, visit www.collectionscanada.ca/50th/index-e.html. Media kits containing background information on the National Library's anniversary are available upon request.

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Pauline M. Portelance
Media Relations Officer
Library and Archives of Canada
Elizabeth Morton
Coordinator 50th Anniversary
Library and Archives of Canada