Library and Archives Canada
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Institutional links

The Public

Academic Researchers

Lay the Groundwork

Did you know that libraries of postsecondary institutions often provide access to subject specialists and thousands of online resources? LAC's collections complement the extensive resources in other research institutions across Canada.

Save yourself some time and try the following:

  • Have you contacted the reference services of your institutional library?
  • Have you discussed your research with the subject specialist of your institution?
  • Have you contacted other institutions with collections relevant to your research?
  • Have you checked our online research tools to familiarize yourself with our collections and to identify materials relevant to your research?
  • Have you consulted our guide to archival research?

Search for books and other published documents (Library Search and other Online Research Tools)

Search for archival and unpublished documents (Archives Search and Thematic and other online Research Tools)

Prepare to visit Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and consult material (Consulting, Borrowing, and Access)

Manage your Sources (Copyright, Citations, and Reproductions)

Ask A Question

Have a question? We're here to help! Response time can vary depending on the nature of your question and our workload.

Need to talk to a content specialist? As always, Library and Archives Canada's specialists (librarians and archivists) are available to you when their specialized expertise and tools are required. We ask that you contact Reference Services using the Ask Us a Question link below so that we can arrange contact with the relevant specialist, according to your needs.

Ask Us a Question

Suggestion: Help us make our assistance as useful to you as possible. Please be sure to include the following in your question:

  • the name of your research institution
  • the name of your program
  • a description of your research project
  • what resources you have already checked
  • anticipated dates of your visit to Library and Archives Canada (LAC), if applicable

Top 5 Tips for making the most of your research at Library and Archives Canada (LAC)

1. Give yourself enough time!

Many research tools are only available in the Reference Rooms (Service and Opening Hours) at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Please note that the opening hours of these rooms can differ from the opening hours of other areas of our facilities. See Tip #3.

Most archival documents and many published documents are not kept onsite. The time required for retrieval varies and can take up to one week. There are no retrievals during evenings or weekends. See Tip #4.

Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) and other conditions of access can also affect your research plans. ATIP reviews take time and should be requested well in advance. Preservation Restrictions and Donor Restrictions can also impact when and how you can consult items.

If you are planning on visiting us, contact us as far in advance as possible to make sure you can make the most of your visit: Ask A Question.

2. Many services are available online…

Through our website, you can:

and find Services to the Public from A to Z.

3. … but not everything is online.

We hold many materials that are not yet described or available online. The only way to access such items is by consulting a variety of paper-based research tools located in the Reference Rooms (Service and Opening Hours) of our building at 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa. Please note that the opening hours of these rooms can differ from the opening hours of other areas of our facilities. See Tip #1.

You may be able to order a photocopy of some of these research tools for your own use. For further Information, Ask A Question.

4. Sorry, no browsing!

Our stacks are closed, meaning that you cannot browse the shelves.

To retrieve published material:

  • if you are onsite, request items using our online catalogue
  • requests using the catalogue can only be made onsite at Library and Archives Canada (LAC)
  • retrievals are usually done the same day, but can take up to a week for materials stored offsite
  • there are no retrievals during evenings or weekends
  • if you are offsite, you can request up to 10 published items in advance of your visit. See the Request For Retrieval of Documents Form.

To retrieve archival documents:

  • if you are onsite, submit a request using the paper form with the full archival reference
  • retrievals usually take 24-48 hours, but can take longer
  • there are no retrievals during evenings or weekends
  • if you are offsite, you can request up to 10 published items in advance of your visit. See the Request For Retrieval of Documents Form.

5. We're here to help!

Our reference librarians and reference archivists can assist you by:

  • showing you how to make the best use of our research tools
  • pointing you toward suggested resources
  • putting you in touch with our content specialists

To contact a reference archivist or reference librarian, Ask A Question. If you are onsite at 395 Wellington Street, visit the Reference Desk on the 2nd floor.

How can we make this page more useful to you? Please send comments and suggestions to reference@bac-lac.gc.ca.