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Banner: Canadian Book Exchange Centre

What is the Centre?

The Canadian Book Exchange Centre (CBEC) helps Canadian libraries help each other. A resource-sharing service provided by Library and Archives Canada, CBEC is a redistribution centre, a clearing house that arranges for the exchange of publications deemed surplus by one library but needed by another. The Centre ensures that the nation's collective surplus holdings are accessible to all, keeps material in circulation and provides an efficient, practical method of using libraries' excess materials to help fill each other's collection requirements. Currently, the publications made available by the Centre are free of charge, but participating libraries must pay shipping charges whether they send or receive materials.

Who can participate?

Any Canadian library with surplus materials may send them to CBEC and receive library materials for its community. Individuals can donate publications but cannot receive materials in return.

What publications can be sent?

CBEC welcomes all types of publications in any format (regular or large print, Braille, video and audio tape, microforms and compact discs). As CBEC's success depends on having quality materials to redistribute, the Centre requests that publications donated be in good condition (preferably without "cancelled" stamps on the title pages). Libraries are welcome to send materials at any time, and are advised to consult with CBEC before sending large numbers of publications, especially in multiple copies.

What publications should not be sent?

  • loose-leaf publications which require updating,
  • single or scattered issues of non-current periodicals,
  • unpublished material,
  • incomplete sets of publications which cannot be used in parts,
  • damaged publications,
  • textbooks which have been marked or underlined, and
  • trade catalogues or advertising brochures printed in large quantities.

Organization of publications at CBEC

CBEC holds about 3 000 000 items, organized into four units:

Periodicals 2 000 000 items (approximately)
Canadian official publications 600 000 items (approximately)
Foreign official publications 200 000 items (approximately)
Monographs 200 000 items (approximately)

How to obtain material from CBEC

(a) CBEC lists

CBEC regularly sends lists of available publications to participating libraries. Any library interested in being added to the mailing list should fill out and submit the Registration Form. Libraries remain on the active mailing list as long as they continue to respond (either by selecting items or indicating that they do not wish to receive any publications). If a library does not respond to five consecutive mailings, it is removed from the mailing list, but is free to rejoin the program at any time. The lists are intended for the use of institutional participants, not individuals; they should not be copied and distributed to other libraries.

Instructions for ordering material are provided on the cover page of each list. In the case of monographs, libraries should indicate on the cover page the item numbers of the books requested. For official publications and periodicals they should follow the instructions on the cover page of each list, marking only the items requested. All requests must be made in writing (mail or fax). Any requests not received by the deadline will be processed as "want lists" (if items are still available).

(b) Want lists

Libraries are invited to send requests for specific periodicals or official publications to CBEC at any time. Requests for monographs are not accepted since monographs are not organized at the Centre to permit retrieval by author or title. When submitting requests, which CBEC answers monthly, libraries are asked to give their CBEC identification number and/or return address; submit no more than 25 titles per month; and indicate which volumes / issues are required. Remember, the more detailed the request, the more easily CBEC can provide effective service.

(c) On-site selection

Representatives of libraries may make an appointment to visit CBEC to select material from the Periodicals and Government Documents sections only for use in their libraries. CBEC will pack and ship selected material, provided that it is taken or sent immediately, as there are no long-term storage facilities at the Centre. To ensure equitable service to all libraries, CBEC reserves the right to restrict the quantity and type of material selected and to limit the number of on-site visits to one a year.

Shipments to CBEC

All materials sent to CBEC must be shipped prepaid. Libraries may check with the Centre before shipping large quantities to determine whether the materials will be of use to other libraries.

In order to process donated materials quickly and efficiently it is very helpful to CBEC if boxes contain only one type of material. Each box, which should not weigh more than 18 kilograms, should be marked as containing monographs (M), periodicals (P), Canadian government documents (C) or foreign official publications (F).

Shipments from CBEC

CBEC ships materials by the least expensive and most efficient rate, currently through Canada Post. Shipments of 2 or more boxes include an invoice.

Shipments of 1 box or in jiffy bags are not invoiced; please refund the Centre for postage on parcels you have received ($2.00 per jiffy bag, $4.00 per box). Make check or money order payable to the Receiver General for Canada. Please send self-addressed mailing labels to facilitate shipping.

Libraries may also arrange to pick up materials at the Centre, in which case they should indicate the name of a contact person and a phone number on their requests.


CBEC suggests that whenever possible main libraries order and receive materials on behalf of branches, and also asks participating libraries to quote their CBEC identification number on all correspondence.

Contact us

Telephone: 613-952-8902
Fax: 613-954-9891
E-mail: cbecccel@lac-bac.gc.ca

Mailing address

Canadian Book Exchange Centre
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON   K1A 0N4

Shipping address

Canadian Book Exchange Centre
Library and Archives Canada
85 Bentley Avenue
Ottawa, ON   K2E 6T7

Service hours

Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Please complete the attached Registration Form to receive the Canadian Book Exchange Centre's lists of available publications.