Skip to Main Content

GOVINFO: Canadian Federal Government Information

General guide for locating Canadian federal government information

Scope of the Canadian Federal Government Collection

Preference is given to the acquisition of current materials, however, if available, historical documents are collected.  Due to short print runs by the various government bodies, it is often difficult to acquire older materials.  When possible, older documents are acquired in microformat (microfiche and microfilm).

Archival documents are not collected with the exception of Canadian federal historical files created by government departments, eg. RG 10: Department of Indian Affairs.  Many of these are in microfilm format.

The collection is selective rather than comprehensive in nature. Collection activity is focussed on the issuing government body as well as the subject matter that is covered.

The Library does, however, however, aim for a comprehensive collection of Canadian federal documents and publications

Canadian federal government documents were collected in all formats, both print/paper and digital.  In the past, many of these materials were available in other formats including:

  •      Microformat (microfiche, microfilm, microcard)
  •      Tangible electronic format
    • Audiocassette or Audiotape
    • CD-ROM
    • Diskette
    • DVD
    • Videocassette

Increasingly, these formats are no longer used by government authors/publishers.  Digital appears to be the preferred format for current materials.  On July 5, 2013, the Government of Canada announced that it would no longer be producing and distributing print publications.  Electronic publishing will be the new standard for all documents.

Also, digitization has increased availability and accessibility of older, historical documents.  A lack of any kind of preservation strategy for digital documents that can ensure future availability and accessibility is a big concern.


Manuscript and archival material are not collected as a general rule.


The focus of the Government Documents collection at the University of Calgary Library iss primarily on Canadian federal and Alberta provincial documents and publications.  Materials from other provinces and territories are collected selectively.

Local/municipal/state documents and publications, with an emphasis on Calgary, are acquired selectively.  The Calgary Public Library has a strong collection of City of Calgary documents and publications. 


English is the predominant language for the collection.   It should be noted that most Canadian federal publications and documents, especially those from Parliament, are bilingual, ie., in English and French. When materials are available separately in both official languages, English language materials are selected.

Normally one copy of a title was purchased.  There is duplication with the Arctic Institute of North America (AINA) collection.  Multiple copies of materials are acquired if it is necessary to have copies in the University of Calgary Library’s various locations.  This was the case with parliamentary and legislative materials.  This practice, however, has changed over time as collections have been consolidated into one location, ie., the Law Library.

The selection of current materials is preferred.  Purchases of historical collections are limited to teaching needs, compatibility with collections strength, format and availability of funds.