Canadian library symbols are important resource-sharing tools. They are assigned by Library and Archives Canada and present a standardized key to the identification of Canadian libraries, information centres, archives, and other related institutions, many of which participate in a wide range of information activities (e.g., networks) or are listed in databases, bibliographies, union lists, etc.
Library symbols are precise, standardized, shorthand identifiers that are useful for automated interlending communications and processing, as well as union lists, bibliographies and local and regional networks.
Canadian library symbols are composed of three groups of letters. The first group identifies the province, the second group identifies the city, and the third group identifies the institution. The following groups of letters represent the provinces and territories:
A = Alberta
B = British Columbia
M = Manitoba
NB = New Brunswick
NF = Newfoundland
NS = Nova Scotia
NU = Nunavut
NW = Northwest Territories
O = Ontario
P = Prince Edward Island
Q = Quebec
S = Saskatchewan
Y = Yukon
A typical example of a Canadian library symbol is AEU, which stands for University of Alberta Cameron Library in Edmonton, Alberta. Symbols can contain up to eight characters in length.
Federal government libraries located in the National Capital Region all have symbols beginning with “OO.”
About the Directory of Symbols and Interlibrary Loan Policies in Canada
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) maintains the Directory of Library Symbols and Interlibrary Loan Policies in Canada. The Directory may be used as a resource-sharing tool for finding Canadian libraries, their contact information and interlibrary loan (ILL) policies.
The Directory includes:
- bilingual names of Canadian institutions
- Canadian library symbols
- links to Canadian library websites and catalogues
- postal addresses
- phone numbers, FAX numbers, etc.
- email addresses, Ariel numbers
- delivery services including SOLS
- equivalent library symbols such as OCLC symbols and DOCLINE
- interlibrary loan policies, such as information on the loan of monographs and serials, charges for ILL services, payment methods used, not-for-loan categories, and renewals information
Register for a Library Symbol
To obtain an internationally recognized Canadian library symbol, contact:
National Union Catalogue
Library and Archives Canada
550, boulevard de la Cité
Gatineau, Québec K1A 0N4
Canadian Library Gateway (archived)
Directory of Special Collections of Research Value in Canadian Libraries (archived)