Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada (in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada) is a national memory institution
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada, formally Her Majesty's Government, is the system whereby the federation of Canada is administered by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council...

 dedicated to providing the best possible account of Canadian life through acquiring, preserving and making Canada's documentary heritage accessible for use in the 21st century and beyond. In essence, LAC's work along with that of other memory institutions builds and enriches Canada's continuing memory.


Library and Archives Canada (LAC) was created on May 21, 2004, by order of the Governor in Council, which united the collections, services and personnel of the institutions National Archives of Canada and National Library of Canada.

Canada was one of the first countries in the world to combine its national library and its national archives into a single memory institution.

The Public Archives of Canada was established in 1872 and was initially part of the Department of Agriculture. It became the National Archives of Canada in 1987.
The National Library of Canada was created in 1953.

Position within federal government

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is part of the federal public administration and the Canadian Heritage portfolio. It reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage. One of its important roles includes serving as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions by supporting accurate record keeping ensuring transparency and accountability. As part of its mandate, LAC works closely with other archives and libraries to acquire and preserve Canada's documentary heritage in all its forms.


The Library and Archives of Canada Act (Bill C-8) was proclaimed on April 22, 2004. This Act introduced the concept of Canada's documentary heritage, which refers to publications and records in all formats of interest to Canada.
  • Library and Archives of Canada Act
  • National Archives of Canada Act (repealed)
  • National Library Act (repealed)


As stated in the Preamble of the Library and Archives of Canada Act, LAC's mandate is:
  • to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations;
  • to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada;
  • to facilitate in Canada co-operation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge; and
  • to serve as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.

The mandate as well as more information about the institution can be found on LAC's website.


Given the profound changes in the information world due to the evolution of technology and social behaviour, LAC needs to adapt its ways of working to remain relevant in Canadian society.

Modernization is a continuous process of adapting to the information environment and working collaboratively to ensure that LAC is effective and fulfills its mandate. This includes managing both digital and analogue materials that constitute Canada's continuing memory.

LAC's collaborative approach with external partners on a number of issues, including finding the most effective ways of preserving digital documents over time, and housing parts of the documentary heritage in the most relevant locations, will continue to foster an atmosphere for dialogue and a climate for discussion.

The Documentary Heritage Management Framework focuses on the three main functions of LAC's mandate: acquisition, preservation and resource discovery.

The framework also includes:
  • Using an approach based on four guiding principles (significance, sufficiency, sustainability and society) to select acquisitions. These principles will help LAC consider whether it is the most suited to acquire the documentary heritage, or whether another institution is better placed to acquire it and/or to be its repository.
  • Seeking the right balance between resources dedicated to the preservation of digital documents and analogue documents, and to ensure there is no digital memory gap. In this way, LAC will continue to work in both analogue and digital worlds.
  • Working with other organizations and Canadians to make resource discovery more user-friendly. The term "resource discovery" includes description, discovery, access and services to the public.

In this way, the framework will define a manageable and results-driven approach for LAC to follow in the upcoming years.

Finally, LAC is conducting a number of pathfinder pilot projects, including rethinking newspapers in a digital age, approaching long-term loans in a more collaborative way and considering challenges and opportunities for Canada's military documentary heritage.

LAC welcomes your comments and observations on its website.

More information about modernization can be found on LAC's website.

Partnerships and collaborations

To meet the challenges of the digital world and fulfill its mandate, LAC is collaborating with libraries, archives and other memory institutions as well as key players in the public and private sectors. Since no single institution can do the work alone, LAC is building the networks necessary to acquire, preserve and make Canada's documentary heritage accessible to current and future generations.

For example:
  • LAC is consulting with key stakeholders and other interested parties across Canada. Among its initiatives is a survey for archivists about how LAC can better work with the Canadian historical research community.
  • LAC is working with schools of information management, information science and public administration to ensure that it fulfills its roles and responsibilities in Canadian society.
  • One of LAC's success stories is the "Suggest a Comment" process where clients can make suggestions for about 30 genealogical databases. The benefits of this process are threefold: important databases are updated, the Canadian Genealogy Centre runs more efficiently and clients are pleased to be involved in the development of online resources.
  • LAC is a member of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries‎.

Documentary heritage

LAC's holdings are one of Canada's most valuable assets and the main source of federal government archival records. They include more than a petabyte of digital content, 20 million books and 24 million photographs.

Canadians can access the collection by going online, by viewing virtual and travelling exhibitions or by using the reference services at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa, Ontario.

LAC Preservation Centre

625 du Carrefour Boulevard, Gatineau, Quebec

The Preservation Centre was built at a cost of $89 million, and opened on June 4, 1997. It is a unique building the size of two football fields, which contains 48 climate-controlled preservation vaults, state-of-the-art preservation laboratories, and offices.

In 2000, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada , founded in 1907, is a Canadian association representing over 3,600 architects, and faculty and graduates of Canadian Schools of Architecture.RAIC is the voice for architecture and its practice in Canada...

 named the LAC Preservation Centre one of the top 500 buildings constructed in Canada during the last millennium.

The Preservation Centre holds many of Canada's most significant documents such as:
  • the proclamation of the Canadian Constitution Act, which bears marks left by raindrops during a ceremony on Parliament Hill in April 1982 when Queen Elizabeth II signed it;
  • the British North America Act, which features the editing changes made by Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald;
  • the oldest book in the collection, De antiquitate Judaica: De bello Judaico (Antiquities of the Jews and the Judean War), written by first century historian Flavius Josephus and printed in 1470;
  • the chair used by world renowned pianist Glenn Gould
    Glenn Gould
    Glenn Herbert Gould was a Canadian pianist who became one of the best-known and most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century. He was particularly renowned as an interpreter of the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach...

     while he played and recorded.

While buildings such as 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, continue to house some documents as well as provide reference services, new facilities are also being built or renovated. Please see the Current Projects of Note section below for more information.

Current Librarian and Archivist of Canada

The Librarian and Archivist of Canada is the deputy head of Library and Archives Canada.
  • 2009–present Daniel J. Caron
    Daniel J. Caron
    Dr. Daniel J. Caron is the current Librarian and Archivist of Canada. He was appointed on April 24, 2009. Caron has also been a professor, author and public speaker.-Education:...

Former National Librarians

  • 1999–2004 Roch Carrier
    Roch Carrier
    Roch Carrier, OC is a Canadian novelist and author of "contes" . He is among the best known Quebec writers in English Canada....

  • 1984–1999 Marianne Scott
    Marianne Scott
    Marianne Florence Scott, OC was the first woman to be appointed as National Librarian of Canada, a position she held from 1984-1999. Born in Toronto December 4, 1928. She studied at McGill University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Library Science...

  • 1968–1983 Guy Sylvestre
    Guy Sylvestre
    Guy Sylvestre , OC, FRSC was a Canadian literary critic, librarian and civil servant.Born in Sorel, Quebec, he attended College Ste-Marie, Montreal, and received his B.A...

  • 1953–1967 William Kaye Lamb
    William Kaye Lamb
    William Kaye Lamb, OC, FRSC was a Canadian historian, archivist, librarian, and civil servant.Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Lamb received his B.A. in 1927 and M.A. in 1930 from the University of British Columbia. He completed his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in 1933, under...

Former National Archivists

  • 1997–2004 Ian E. Wilson
    Ian E. Wilson
    Ian E. Wilson is a former chief Librarian and Archivist of Canada. Appointed in 2004, he had previously been National Archivist of Canada. With Roch Carrier, the then National Librarian, he developed and led the process to link the National Archive and National Library as a unified institution...

  • 1985–1997 Jean-Pierre Wallot
    Jean-Pierre Wallot
    Jean-Pierre Wallot, OC, FRSC, was a Canadian historian, educator, civil servant and former National Archivist of Canada....

  • 1969–1985 Wilfred I. Smith
    Wilfred I. Smith
    Wilfred I. "Wilf" Smith was a Canadian public servant and Dominion Archivist from 1970 to 1985.Born in Port La Tour, Nova Scotia, Smith received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1943 and a Master of Arts degree in 1946 from Acadia University. He received a Ph.D...

  • 1953–1968 William Kaye Lamb
    William Kaye Lamb
    William Kaye Lamb, OC, FRSC was a Canadian historian, archivist, librarian, and civil servant.Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Lamb received his B.A. in 1927 and M.A. in 1930 from the University of British Columbia. He completed his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in 1933, under...

Former Dominion Archivists

  • 1948–1953 William Kaye Lamb
    William Kaye Lamb
    William Kaye Lamb, OC, FRSC was a Canadian historian, archivist, librarian, and civil servant.Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Lamb received his B.A. in 1927 and M.A. in 1930 from the University of British Columbia. He completed his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in 1933, under...

  • 1937–1948 Gustave Lanctot
    Gustave Lanctot
    Gustave Lanctot, OC, FRSC, also spelled Gustave Lanctôt, was a Canadian historian and archivist.Born in Saint-Constant, Quebec, he studied law at Université de Montréal and was called to the Quebec Bar in 1907. A Rhodes Scholar, he studied political science and history from 1909 to 1911 while at...

  • 1904–1935 Sir Arthur George Doughty  (A statue of Doughty is located on the north side of the Library and Archives building.)
  • 1872–1902 Douglas Brymner
    Douglas Brymner
    Douglas Brymner was a Canadian politician, journalist, civil servant and archivist.Born in Greenock, Scotland, Brymner immigrated to Canada in 1857 with his wife and son settling in Melbourne, Lower Canada...

Current projects

LAC is exploring new ways to improve access to Canada's documentary heritage by reaching out to online communities such as Flickr
Flickr is an image hosting and video hosting website, web services suite, and online community that was created by Ludicorp in 2004 and acquired by Yahoo! in 2005. In addition to being a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs, the service is widely used by bloggers to...

, a photo-sharing community, and YouTube, a video-sharing community. See "The Shamrock and the Maple Leaf" website for more details.

RSS feeds provide links to new content on the LAC website as well as updates to existing pages. Additions such as new finding aids and new descriptions in databases are also highlighted.

Nitrate Film Preservation Facility
3701 Carling Avenue, Communications Research Centre (CRC) Campus, Shirley's Bay, Ottawa, Ontario

The Nitrate Film Preservation Facility is being constructed to house Canada's cellulose nitrate film collection, which contains 5,575 film reels dating back to 1912, including some of the first Canadian motion pictures and photographic negatives. The material is highly sensitive and requires precise temperatures for its preservation. This facility will be an eco-designed building, featuring a "green" roof that will provide better insulation and minimize energy expenditures.

Collection Storage Facility
Highway 50, Gatineau, Quebec

Another infrastructure project is the Collection Storage Facility, which will house the preservation and newspaper collections. The facility will feature a high-density shelving system with a suitable environment to better protect Canada's published heritage. This high-density shelving system will greatly increase storage capacity.

See also

  • International Standard Bibliographic Description
    International Standard Bibliographic Description
    The International Standard Bibliographic Description is a set of rules produced by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions to describe a wide range of library materials within the context of a catalog. The consolidated edition of the ISBD was published in 2007...

  • The National Archives

External links

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