Using Collection Search

With Collection Search, users can search many of the collections available to the public at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) from one starting point. Right now, this tool searches over 26 databases, representing 30 percent of the described collection at LAC, and including the largest databases such as Collections and Fonds (MIKAN) and Aurora.

On this page

General tips

Here are some general considerations which apply, no matter which search method you choose:

  • Begin with a simple search or select "Advanced Search" on the right side of the page for a more detailed search form.
  • Search the entire collection, or limit your search using the tabs and left-hand menu options
  • Search results will appear directly below the "Search" button.
  • 25 results appear per page; subsequent results can be viewed by selecting the numbers at the bottom of the page.
    • You can adjust the number of results listed on each page from 25 to 50 or 100 and by then clicking the “apply” button.

Simple search

Searching by word or phrase

The quickest and easiest way to search is to use a keyword search by word or phrase.

Enter the text into the search box and click the "search" button.


  • Proper names are often misspelled or not spelled consistently. Try various spellings if you don't find what you're looking for the first time.
  • Use the wildcard search by typing partial words and using * to replace the endings (e.g. imm* will bring up immigration, immigrant and other words beginning with imm).
  • To search phrases, try different combinations of words instead of full sentences.
  • Many records and items are described in one language only. Try using keywords in both English and French if you don’t find what you’re looking for the first time.

Filtering your results

You can limit your search results both before and after your initial word or phrase search.

Before you search

You can limit your results by using the advanced search fields.

All of these words
Brings only results that contain all of your search words.
This exact phrase
Limits results to the words you enter exactly as you enter them.
Any of these words
Brings results that contain at least one of your search words, but may not contain all of them.
None of these words
If you want to exclude descriptions that have a certain word in them, enter those words here.
You can choose to limit your search results to a specific database using the dropdown menu. A link to a database's help page is often available in a search result or record description
ID number
If you know the ID number, previously labelled as the MIKAN number or a dataset identifier, you can locate a specific record that way.
Select the year in the date box or click on time period and enter a start and end date
Search In
Limits the results by Archives, Genealogy, Images, or Library (see descriptions below)
Available online
Limits your search results to those available online.
Co-Lab contributions
You can choose to include, omit, or only search for Co-Lab contributions.
  • These are contributions made by the public to digitized items from LAC’s collection. You can contribute by transcribing, translating, tagging or describing

After you search

Across the top, you will see the tabs Archives, Genealogy, Library and Images. Clicking on any one of those will limit the results you see.

This tab refines your search to see only archival documents held at LAC. These documents are structured into fonds and collections (which are then further sub-divided)
This tab refines your search to see only genealogy sources including records related to military service, immigration, land and census.
This tab refines your search to explore LAC’s published collection such as books, periodicals (including newspapers), journals, official publications, theses, sound recordings, sheet music, maps and electronic documents. This collection includes material in various languages, in Braille and in large-print.
This tab refines your search to digitized images in the archival collection at LAC. Each search result will be presented as a thumbnail.

Reading a search result

When you click on a search result, you will be taken to its description, where you will find more information such as:

  • The context of a record, for example if it is an individual document or part of a larger collection.
  • Information that helps to identify where the document(s) is/are located.
  • The scope and content, which describes the subjects covered by the document(s) and the types of documents.
  • If there is a finding aid for the fonds or collection, the identifier number will be indicated. Often, the finding aid is available online and accessible by clinking on the link.
  • If the record is digitized and attached to Collection Search, the image will appear at the top of the description.
  • If you want to view the document in person or order a copy, you can also do so from the Ordering and viewing options section of the description where you will also find information on access conditions and terms of use

Saving a search result

To save copies of the search results to your computer, you can:

  • Save individual results by clicking the “add to my research” button. You need to be signed in to create individual folders in which to save your search results
  • Download lists of search results in the following formats: HTML, CSV, XML, JSON (see the download icon at the top right corner of the results page)
  • Print your search results list (see the printer icon at the top right corner of the results page)