The Library of the National Gallery of Canada houses the most extensive collection of visual arts literature in Canada, which traces the development of visual arts in the country since the founding of the National Gallery in 1880 to the present.
The Library and Archives focus on Canadiana and the history of the Western tradition from the late Middle Ages to the present, with particular emphasis on painting, sculpture and the graphic arts of Britain, France, Italy and the United States, as well as the history and technology of photography.
The collections include 275,000 books, exhibition catalogues and bound periodicals, 900 current periodical subscriptions, 58,000 auction catalogues, 95,000 microforms, 76,000 documentation files, 362,000 study photographs, 203,000 slides and 1000 linear meters of institutional archives and private papers. Up to three copies of monographs on the Canadian visual arts are also collected by the Library.
The Archives of the National Gallery of Canada maintains the Gallery’s own archival records. These include records of the Board of Trustees, exhibition files, correspondence with artists, war art records, loan records, and building records. The Archives also acquires and maintains fonds of personal and corporate papers that relate to the National Gallery of Canada, its history, collections, exhibitions, personalities and facilities.