National Law Library of Canada?

Further to Simon’s post yesterday on this topic, the Canadian Association of Law Libraries passed a resolution sometime ago recommending the appointment of a National Law Librarian. In recommendation # 8 in my recent LLM thesis (available online on SLAW at, I supported this recommendation in the following terms:

As mentioned in Recommendation #1 above, the Access to Information Review Task Force has recommended “a co-ordinated government-wide strategy be developed to address the crisis in information management” including “partnerships among the agencies with primary responsibility for information management” such as the National Library and other government institutions. Along these lines, the government should appoint a National Law Librarian at the National Library of Canada consistent with the recommendation of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in their Resolution 2000/3:

WHEREAS the National Library of Canada is charged with the mandate to collect and preserve the social, literary, economic, historical and legal publications related to or published in Canada; and

WHEREAS the National Library of Canada is the institution best positioned to facilitate co-operation and collaboration among Canadian law libraries and law library organizations, and with national bibliographic institutions of other nations; and

WHEREAS CALL/ACBD is the Canadian professional association most aware of and knowledgeable about the preservation and access issues related to the publication of legal materials in digital form; and

WHEREAS the globalization of legal information in digital form is a reality that is not yet fully accepted by Canadian institutions in terms of national information policy;

BE IT RESOLVED that CALL/ACBD recommend to the National Librarian, Heritage Canada and to Parliament, the establishment of the position of National Law Librarian with the appropriate authority and resources to work at the national level, and in cooperation with groups and organizations to:

• develop a national legal information policy, especially with regard to access to and preservation of digital legal resources of Canadian origin;

• develop a legal information preservation strategy which is independent of short-term, volunteer initiatives but which may support a distributed undertaking if this appears cost-effective and reliable;

• advise the National Librarian and other working groups on those issues directly related to the unique nature of legal information resources;

• create and facilitate collaborative ventures with national law libraries

A National Law Librarian could be given a mandate to improve access to law-related information in Canada and could be a key person to work with both various sectors within the government and private industry to see this mandate realized.


  1. The idea of a National Law Librarian was raised with the National Library, who have not been too keen about the idea. In general, and speaking for what I think is the academic law library community in Canada, this idea is probably not an immediate priority. Slawer’s may be aware that the university libraries have for over a decade organized themselves to become a national virtual canadian law library, in absence of any articulated position on legal information by the National Library.