Canadian Library Association | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Canadian Library Association

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) was founded in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1946, and incorporated on 26 November 1947. CLA was a non-profit voluntary organization governed by an elected executive council and advised by over 30 interest groups and committees. After years of diminishing membership, the CLA was dissolved in 2016.

Mission and Organization

The CLA’s mission was to promote, develop and support library and information services in Canada and to work in cooperation with all who shared its values in order to present a unified voice on issues of mutual concern.

CLA’s five constituent divisions included:

  • Canadian Association of College and University Libraries (CACUL), including the Community and Technical College (CTCL) section
  • Canadian Association of Public Libraries (CAPL), including the Canadian Association of Children’s Librarians (CACL) section
  • Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Services (CASLIS), with chapters in Calgary, Edmonton, Manitoba, Ottawa, Toronto and Atlantic Canada
  • Canadian Library Trustees Association
  • Canadian School Library Association, including the School Library Administrators (SLA) section

In 1968, the CLA became a unilingual association (see Canadian English), leaving the formal representation of francophone librarians to l’Association pour l’avancement des sciences et des techniques de la documentation (see French Language in Canada).


CLA membership was open to anyone with an interest in libraries. It consisted of a diverse group of individuals and organizations involved or interested in library or information sciences. A large proportion of CLA members worked in college, university, public, special (corporate, non-profit and government) and school libraries. Others sat on the boards of public libraries, worked for companies that provided goods and services to libraries, or were students in graduate level or community college programs.

Membership categories of the Canadian Library Association included personal, institutional, associate and trustee.

Total membership in 2002 was 2,721 — including personal and institutional memberships. By 2014, total membership had fallen to 1,283. Dwindling membership lead to the dissolution of the CLA in 2016.


Priorities for the association were public policy concerning all issues that related to library and information services, continuing education and professional development, and member services and communications.

Important achievements of the CLA included advocating the creation of the National Library of Canada (now part of Library and Archives Canada); acting as a joint publisher of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, the cataloguing standard; and launching Information Rights Week.

The association supported research and advocacy on issues critical to the library and information community, including succession planning, copyright, the General Agreement on Trades and Services (GATS) and intellectual freedom. Partnerships existed between the CLA and other non-profit organizations, such as the Media Awareness Network and the Copyright Forum.

Occasionally, the CLA prepared written and oral comments on government initiatives. Often prepared upon the request of the government, these papers outlined and provided descriptions of the real and potential impact of government activities on library programs and made recommendations on various courses of action.

In addition, the CLA was involved in issues of concern to the library profession and worked and collaborated with other national and international library associations, including the American Library Association (ALA) and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA).

The CLA mets annually in a major Canadian city in mid-June for a conference and trade show. The cities chosen for CLA conferences were intended to represent a regional cross section of the country. Professional development programs, including the annual conference, local seminars and teleconferences were also a key component of the association’s work.

The CLA provided scholarships to students attending library school, grants for research and education in library and information science, and awards for excellence in literature for children and young adults and for professional excellence and innovation in the field of library and information science.


The association published monographs relating to Canadian library issues, such as copyright and telecommunications policies, and produced Feliciter, a bimonthly magazine devoted to the Canadian library profession. The CLA website provided information on the activities, organization and policies of the association, as well as on the library profession and Canadian libraries.

See also Libraries; Library Science.

External Links