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Banner: National Library of Canada 1953 - 2003

Core Library Services

  • The National Library builds and preserves a comprehensive collection of published Canadiana, to serve as an information and cultural resource for Canadians both now and in the future.
  • The National Library builds a bibliographic database to serve as a comprehensive record of Canadian publishing output, to facilitate access to the collection, and to assist libraries, the book trade and other information providers in identifying, acquiring, promoting and making available Canadiana materials.
  • The National Library provides reference, research and referral services on site, by telephone and via the Web site, to Canadians and Canadian libraries using the Library’s Canadiana collection, several collections of wider scope supporting Canadian studies, and staff expertise.
  • The National Library sponsors exhibitions, readings, lectures, concerts and other events in order to provide Canadians with the opportunity to explore, understand and appreciate their cultural heritage.
  • The National Library facilitates public access to information about its own holdings as well as the holdings of other libraries in Canada.
  • The National Library promotes reading and literacy, via the annual Read Up On It kit and support to literacy initiatives such as the Media Awareness Network.
  • The National Library works with libraries throughout Canada to develop and implement policies, procedures, standards, products and systems that support the sharing of information resources among libraries in order to optimize the delivery of library services to Canadians in all regions of the country.
  • The National Library coordinates cooperative library services among the departments and agencies of the Government of Canada.
  • The National Library provides strategic policy and professional support for library development and coordination in Canada and at the international level.
  • The National Library has acquired a world-wide reputation, in bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), for its leadership role in the development of standards for the exchange of bibliographic data, the preservation of library materials, the application of information technology to library services, and the promotion of universal and equitable access to basic information services, especially in the developing world.

The National Library by the numbers

  • The National Library Web site has over 8 million visits annually.
  • The collection has almost 20 million items (books, periodicals, sound and video recordings, microforms and electronic documents) representing 3 million unique titles.
  • The database for Canadiana, the national bibliography, has over 2.1 million records representing 250 years of Canadian publishing.
  • The AMICUS database contains over 25 million records of items in the Library’s collections as well as holdings currently reported by 450 Canadian libraries.
  • Over 1,300 Canadian libraries and other information institutions use the AMICUS service to search for materials for their clients.
  • The National Library of Canada has 460 staff members.
  • The collections are housed in eight separate facilities in the national capital region.

In 2000-01, the National Library of Canada:

  • acquired 500,000 items for the collection, most on legal deposit
  • circulated over 198,000 items
  • answered over 24,000 reference requests
  • created over 65,000 bibliographic records
  • added 1.6 million bibliographic records to the AMICUS database
  • answered a total of 152,000 interlibrary loan requests from 3,000 libraries and filled 75,000 of these requests from its own collections
  • registered over 5,000 new clients as on-site researchers
  • attracted an estimated 25,000 visitors to the major exhibition, Oscar Peterson: A Jazz Sensation