A new library management system to share Canada’s published documentary heritage

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Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has entered into a contractual agreement with OCLC, an international non-profit library co-operative. Effective since March 23, 2017, this agreement allows LAC to offer the Canadian library community world-class services to display the richness of Canada's documentary heritage.

OCLC was awarded the contract following a Government of Canada public procurement process. The co-operative was determined to be the only organization that was able to meet all of LAC's requirements.

OCLC is the world's largest online resource for discovering library materials. LAC has acquired its services to support the management of acquisitions, cataloguing, serials control, public access, circulation, loans to other institutions and to assume responsibility for the management of the National Union Catalogue. The initial contract is for five years. The leading-edge system offered by the co-operative is available in both official languages. It is reliable, high-performing, accessible, evolving and mobile-friendly.

OCLC has replaced LAC's 20-year-old library management system, called AMICUS, which was used to manage published materials held at LAC, and to support discovery of holdings located in hundreds of libraries across Canada.

AMICUS was outdated and no longer adequately met the needs of Canadians. Following an in-depth analysis and consultations with key stakeholders in the Canadian library community, LAC concluded that it would be less costly to acquire these services than to build and maintain an in-house system. Voilà, Canada's new National Union Catalogue, was launched in February 2018. In December 2018, Aurora, a brand new interface to access LAC's own published holdings, was launched.

To take advantage of OCLC's world-class services, Canadian libraries must be members of the co-operative. Many Canadian libraries are already members of OCLC. In line with feedback from the Canadian library community, LAC has negotiated an agreement with OCLC whereby LAC will cover the interlibrary loan and copy cataloguing subscription fees for small public libraries and small libraries at post-secondary institutions (community colleges, CEGEPs and universities). In fall 2017 and fall 2018, LAC advised libraries how they can apply for financial assistance in order to become members of OCLC. A new funding cycle will begin in fall 2019. 

LAC will also work closely with Canadian libraries that are not OCLC members to resolve their interlibrary loan and copy cataloguing needs.

Over the course of this transition, LAC will communicate regularly with the Canadian library community to obtain feedback and to provide updates on upcoming milestones and timelines.


  • 1. Why has AMICUS been replaced?

    Created more than 20 years ago, AMICUS is technologically outdated. Its maintenance costs continued to increase, and it was clear that it no longer served its purpose adequately. Neither AMICUS nor the National Union Catalogue had kept pace with new web- and mobile-friendly functions, nor did they offer user-customization options or links to social media. Following an in-depth analysis and consultations with key stakeholders in the Canadian library community, LAC concluded that it would be less costly to acquire these new services than to build and maintain an in-house system.

  • 2. How much is LAC paying for this new OCLC system?

    The total cost of initial and mandatory services for the first five years, including applicable taxes, is $4.47 million. For more information, see buyandsell.gc.ca website.

    This system will be less costly for LAC over time than AMICUS has been. In addition, users will have access to state-of-the-art services.

  • 3. Why did LAC choose to work with OCLC?

    Through an Advance Contract Award Notice (ACAN) procurement process managed by Public Services and Procurement Canada, OCLC was determined to be the only organization that could meet LAC's requirements.

    OCLC is an international non-profit co-operative. It is dedicated to the goal of furthering access to the world's information resources. OCLC provides services to libraries in 170 countries. Many libraries in Canada are already members. OCLC and its member libraries co-operatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the largest online public access catalogue in the world. OCLC provides online services in English and French, as well as in many other languages. The organization already partners with the national libraries of New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain and the Netherlands. OCLC's Canadian office is located in Montréal.

  • 4. What benefits does the OCLC system offer to Canadian users?

    Everyone in Canada and in other countries has access to LAC's public catalogues, Aurora and Voilà. The web interfaces are visually appealing, easy to use and intuitive, and they still offer advanced search options for experienced clients.

    Canadian users can also benefit from a mobile version available on smartphones and tablets, and ongoing improvements and innovations from the world's leader. OCLC frequently updates its services to keep up with trends and the expectations of users.

Useful information for Canadian libraries

For information and updates, please consult Questions and answers for Canadian libraries about Voilà and Aurora.

Contact us

For questions or further information, please contact bac.servicesauxbibliotheques-libraryservices.lac@canada.ca.

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