Photostory #466: Canada's National Library and Public Archives
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Just three government buildings west of the Houses of Parliament stands Canada's new National Library and Public Archives Building. In this large humidity-controlled, air-conditioned edifice perched on the edge of the bluff overlooking the upstream reaches of the Ottawa River are gathered some of the nation's most valuable treasures. Here, carefully preserved for public viewing are original portfolios of coastal navigation charts made by such historic figures as Captain Cook for use by ships-of-the-line two centuries ago. Here also are volumes of newspapers, dating back to the beginning of the nation, which can be leisurely perused in a reading room open 24 hours a day. For serious students and researchers keys are available to small private rooms where long periods of compilation and study may be carried out in solitude. In other large reference rooms, copies of every current publication printed in Canada can be read at short notice and such international rarities studied as the first-printed Euclid. In this building the National Library operates the Union Catalogue. This is a file of 10,000,000 cards (growing at a rate of 4,000 each day) which lists all the books stored in libraries across the country. In this operation modern telex and TWX communication systems help channel 300 book-searching inquiries a day and from the Library lists go around the world informing foreign reference services of Canadian publications available. To the Public Archives come historic paintings and manuscripts for renovation, preservation and study. Canada's National Library and Public Archives, in their fine new building, have become an invaluable source of knowledge and preserved national culture and also one of the public attractions of Canada's capital city.