Canadian collections

This section gives some idea of the main areas of current purchasing, and a selective list of notable accessions is included. Contact Dora Petherbridge at for further information.

Modern printed collections

Under the privilege of legal deposit the National Library of Scotland has a right to claim all materials published in Britain and Ireland, and a number of books from Canadian publishers distributed in Britain are also received. In addition, the Library maintains an active purchasing policy for Canadian material.

Publications relating to Scotland and the Scots are extensively acquired. Because of the intensity of Scottish emigration to Canada the Library acquires a substantial amount of material of historical and genealogical interest. Current material is also acquired in the humanities, especially literature (including contemporary writing) and history, especially where there is significant Scottish input, for example the fur trade, or Scottish resonance, for example the question of Quebec nationalism. Material is acquired more selectively in politics and the social sciences. Standard works of reference and bibliographies are given high priority. The Library has particular strengths in mountaineering and polar exploration. Canadian material is acquired in both English and French, and the Library also acquires as extensively as possible publications in and relating to the Scottish Gaelic of Nova Scotia.

Non-current material and special collections

There are no special collections with exclusively Canadian content and much of the earlier printed material is related to the numerous manuscript collections. There are however a number of older Canadian newspapers (see Holdings of US and Canadian Newspapers in Scottish Libraries) and individual items of interest relating in particular to travel, exploration, mountaineering and Scottish emigration to Canada. The Library has an active policy of purchasing photographic material; of particular interest in this context are works by the Scots-Canadian photographers William Notman and Alexander Henderson.

Non-print collections

There are some microform collections relating to Commonwealth history, for example the 'Missionary Society Archives'. One important collection for Canadian history is the 'Mackenzie King Diaries' on microfiche.

Manuscript, maps and music collections

The manuscript collections are rich in Canadian material, again with the emphasis on Scottish-Canadian relations. Most relevant material will be found in the Murray, Ellice, Minto and Yester Papers, collections mainly of correspondence dealing with civil government, military affairs and commercial activity in Canada, and also with individual immigrant experience, an area supported by numerous other smaller collections.

The Library has depository status for the topographic maps published by the Surveys and Mapping Branch of the Canadian Department of Energy, Mines and resources and the Canadian Arctic is well covered as part of the Library's special interest in the area. There is a substantial range of atlases dealing with Canada, including thematic atlases. Bibliographies, directories of map libraries, catalogues of map collections and gazetteers are also purchased. Works on historical geography and land settlement are collected, particularly if there is Scottish interest.

The Library has a modest collection of Canadian music, including some scores (folk music collections, examples of concert music and sacred music) and a number of recordings of Cape Breton fiddle music.


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