Restrictions on viewing and copying material

Most of the collection of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is open for viewing. However, you may not be able to view or make copies of some of the collection for these reasons.

Government restrictions

You may not view material that contains sensitive information about national security, other governments, police services, program operations, personal information, and medical or legal records. These restrictions are listed in the Access to Information Act (sections 13 to 26, 68 and 69) and the Privacy Act (sections 18 to 28, 69 and 70).

Canadian military services files after 1919 or other Government of Canada records (including records about LAC) contain sensitive information. To get permission to view this material, you may submit an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request.

Copyright restrictions

LAC holds a mix of public and private material, both published and unpublished, much of which is still protected by copyright. Sometimes LAC is the copyright owner, but in many cases, LAC is not the copyright owner. An author, a creator, or the government can also be a copyright owner.

LAC will review your order for copyright restrictions. LAC will inform you if you need to get written consent from the copyright owner or, sometimes, from the donor of the material.

Private records restrictions

After individuals or groups donate records, LAC sets conditions for access. As much as possible, records are made open and available.

Private records often have sensitive content such as personal information, medical records or legal records. Some private records include government information about restricted topics like national security, other governments, police services, and program operations.

Private records may be closed for a specified time to protect sensitive information, or access may only be allowed under certain conditions. Researchers may have to sign a form before being allowed to view certain records. Depending on the content, the donor may require researchers to get written consent to view the records.

Private records will also have copyright restrictions (see the copyright restrictions section on this page).

Preservation restrictions

This material is not available for viewing or copying:

  • material that is too fragile to handle or to transport
  • material that is getting conservation treatment
  • material that is too large to be moved to a research room
  • material that is being copied or is being moved to a new location

In some cases, you may arrange to view fragile material with the help of LAC staff, or staff may ask you to use another format to protect the original.

If collection material is in good condition, you may request to have items digitized. You may also be able to photograph items onsite (see Making copies when visiting LAC).

Processing restrictions

Material that is still being processed may not be available for viewing or copying.