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Banner: National Library of Canada 1953 - 2003

Message from...
National Librarian of Canada

On January 1, 2003, the National Library of Canada celebrates its 50th anniversary. The National Library was created to gather, protect and make accessible to the citizens of Canada all that is published in our country. It was created to bridge the information gap in a country vast in size and limited in the information resources within its borders.

Canadians can be proud of the progress made over the last 50 years. Canada's National Library is very young - one of the youngest in the world. But with inimitable Canadian determination, we have built a collection of almost 20 million items: books, magazines, authors' manuscripts, music CDs and sound recordings, software and electronic documents. This collection reflects the creative output of our country - our stories, our history, our music, our future. We have built with our partner libraries across the country a robust network of interlibrary loan services for all Canadians and the national catalogue AMICUS which provides information on the items in the collections of over 1,300 libraries across Canada.

A milestone such as a golden anniversary provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the pioneering spirit of the leadership and staff of the National Library throughout the years - in particular, the late W. Kaye Lamb, the founding national librarian; Guy Sylvestre, the second national librarian; and Marianne Scott, the third national librarian. I would also like to acknowledge the determination of the Canadian Library Association and the people and Parliament of Canada, whose support for coordinated library service throughout the country was responsible for the creation of the institution we honour.

In 1951, noting that Canada was "the only civilized country in the world lacking a National Library," the Massey-Lévesque Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences recommended that a National Library be established without delay. Fifty years later, the National Library of Canada is on the threshold of a new era in providing timely and comprehensive information to all Canadians.

The creation of a new institution - the Library and Archives of Canada - as announced by the Minister of Canadian Heritage on October 2, 2002, heralds a renewed investment in Canadian culture. The bringing together of the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada promises Canadians comprehensive collections, expertly organized, properly preserved, and accessible to all through the twinning of innovative technology and the traditional skills of librarians and archivists, working together to preserve the past and build the future. The celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the National Library of Canada, therefore, 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.

Dr. Roch Carrier, O.C.
National Librarian of Canada