Contemporary Canadian Government & Politics:
A Practical Research Guide

Introduction   Starting   Clarifying   Bibliographies   Finding & Evaluating
Primary Sources   Special Topics   Citing Sources   Ask Your Librarian!   Detailed Table of Contents
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8. Ask Your Librarians!
Librarians Libraries

Libraries:

Library Catalogues Depository Libraries Library Collections Specialized Libraries

Libraries have been collecting books and other forms of government and political information for a long time. They are the best general sources for research materials. Books can go out of print very quickly and online sources can be removed from the Internet at any time. Libraries and archives have the mandate to collect, keep and make information available to researchers over time.

Each library will have its own major clientele and collection strengths, but what makes libraries so valuable is the work they do to collect appropriate information, describe it, classify it by subject, organize it for easy retrieval, provide access and advice to researchers.

Cataloguers create a record for every item by recording basic information such as the title, author, publisher, number of pages, etc. They also assign one or more subject headings from a controlled vocabulary system so that users can find all books on the subject, without having to guess at all the possible synonyms or other keywords that might be applicable. A unique call number is then assigned to each item so that users can find it easily on the shelf.

In most public and university libraries books are shelved in call number order, with books on a subject appearing together allowing you to browse the shelves by subject. When government documents collections are separate, they are usually browsable by the authoring body (department, agency, etc.). The records describing the library's holdings are combined to form the library catalogue, a searchable database of all the information in the library.

For more details on searching library catalogues see Part 4: Finding Information: Books.

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Library Catalogues:
Library catalogues are the organized information (records or citations) representing the materials the library owns and to which the library provides online access. Small libraries may still have their catalogue on cards, on microfiche, or in other formats. Most large libraries in Canada have most, if not all, of their holdings in an online catalogue accessible on the Internet.
AMICUS, the National Library of Canada's National Union Catalogue. http://www.collectionscanada.ca/amicus/index-e.html
This combined catalogue includes the holdings of over 1,000 Canadian libraries including the National Library and many government and university libraries.
Canadian Library Gateway http://www.collectionscanada.ca/gateway/index-e.htm
This gateway provides links to Canadian library web sites and catalogues by type: Academic, Government, Public, and Special, by name, and by region.
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Depository Libraries:

The federal government Depository Services Program provides federal government documents to selected libraries to help make government information available to the public.
http://dsp-psd.communication.gc.ca/Depo/table-e.html

Select "Full Depositories only" to see which libraries receive all federal government publications listed for distribution by the Depository Services Program.
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Libraries with Large Collections on Canadian Government and Politics:
The two largest university research libraries in Canada (below) have excellent collections. For provincial and municipal collections, or other specific topics within contemporary Canadian government and politics, see Special Topics.

University of Toronto http://www.library.utoronto.ca/index.html

University of Alberta http://www.library.ualberta.ca/

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Specialized Libraries:
Political organizations, government departments, agencies and other related organizations may have their own libraries. These can have unique resources not available elsewhere and librarians who are experts in the subject.
Note: They are not all open to the public. Check first.
The following directories provide contact information and brief descriptions of the libraries' collections:
Directory of Libraries in Canada. Toronto: Micromedia, 1992 - . Annual.
Available also on CD-ROM and online, by subscription.
Indexed by subject and location, over 6,000 libraries are listed with the services they offer, details on their collections, and contact information.
Associations Canada: An Encyclopedic Directory. Toronto: Canadian Almanac & Directory Pub. Co., 1974 - . Title varies. Available also online by subscription.
A directory of over 19,000 Canadian associations organized alphabetically by name, with a keyword index in the back. If the association has a library the entry will give details and contact information.
Librarians Libraries
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Introduction   Starting   Clarifying   Bibliographies   Finding & Evaluating
Primary Sources   Special Topics   Citing Sources   Ask Your Librarian!   Detailed Table of Contents

Created and maintained by Anita Cannon, Librarian
R. P. Bell Library   Mount Allison University   Mount Allison Centre for Canadian Studies
Last Updated: August 8, 2007
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