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 bac.reference.lac@canada.ca.

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