January 20, 2022

Library and Archives Canada Proposes to Outsource National Catalogue (AMICUS) to OCLC

From the Ottawa Citizen:

LAC proposes to use a sole-source contract to hire U.S.-based Online Computer Library Centre Inc. (OCLC), the world’s largest library co-operative, to replace the outdated system.

Library and Archives signalled the long-anticipated move by publishing a detailed advance contract award notice on the government’s tender website last week.


Other suppliers have until April 9 to apply, but failing that, the government intends to negotiate only with OCLC. The proposed contract is for five years, with options for five one-year renewals by the government.

According to the award notice, Library and Archives plans to extract its collections database from AMICUS, as well as bibliographic records and holdings data from libraries across Canada, and provide them to OCLC.

In turn, OCLC will use the two data sets to build the future LAC and national union catalogue databases.

Read the Complete Article, Reaction to Announcement

Direct to Full Text of Tender Notice Mentioned in Article (Approx. 6000 Words)

From the Document:

In its 2013 Report on Plans and Priorities, LAC announced its plans to implement a new digital service model. Accordingly, LAC seeks to improve its offerings in the field of digital access. LAC’s objective in undertaking this change is to position the organization to address the formidable challenge of providing Canadians with open access to their documentary heritage, including the growing digital component.

…LAC is seeking to contract with a qualified Service Provider to utilize its externally hosted web-available 21st century system (or systems) and related services. This will encompass LAC’s National Union Catalogue (NUC) management services and access functionality (including the loading and management of data), LAC collection management functions (acquisition, description, public and remote catalogue access and circulation control and storage management which may involve building linkages to LAC internal systems and will require the provision of a bilingual “skin” with Canadian branding (in compliance with TBS standards for the design of Government of Canada websites) on any public interface(s)), to enable LAC to continue its ongoing commitment to resource sharing in Canada.

Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC) is the only known supplier of an externally hosted web-enabled 21st Century system and related services for the provision of a National Union Catalogue (NUC) that is available in both official languages (English and French) and meets all mandatory performance and minimum essential requirements as detailed in Article 3 [of the tender notice].

Direct to Full Text of Tender Notice Mentioned in Article (Approx. 6000 Words)

UPDATED 2 Minister of Canadian Heritage Won’t halt plan to outsource Library and Archives Canada catalogue to U.S. firm (via Ottawa Citizen)

New Democrat MPs called on the federal government Wednesday to intervene in a plan by Library and Archives Canada to outsource its online catalogue to an American company.

During Question Period, Irene Mathyssen, MP for London-Fanshawe, said Library and Archives Canada (LAC) plays a vital role in preserving our history. “Yet Conservatives have given a sole-sourced contract to a U.S.-based company for the new catalogue,” she said.

“Our history should not be contracted out to a U.S. company,” Mathyssen said, adding: “Who do you think the Americans will say won the War of 1812?”

UPDATE 3 Confirmed: Library and Archives Canada seeks to outsource AMICUS to OCLC (via Myron Groover; Biblioracy)

In an age where other jurisdictions are moving toward distributed, collaborative, open source, robustly public infrastructure to support digital librarianship, Canada’s continued drive to further fragment and privatise information services seems all the more disappointing and short-sighted.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.