Jean-Léon-Allie Library History

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Jean-Léon-Allie Library and Archives

Welcome to the Jean-Léon Allie University Library and Archives.

Our collection contains over 500,000 volumes, 1,000 current periodicals, and some 100,000 microforms. Our patrons can also access the print and electronic resources of the University of Ottawa.

Please consult our services page to know more about the library and how to access its collection.

Library Floor Plan


The library began on April 27, 1937, as the library of the University of Ottawa’s seminary. The late Father Jean-Léon Allie, OMI, was its founder and first Chief Librarian. After occupying that post for more than 40 years, Father Allie continued to devote all his energies to the Library, first as Acquisitions Librarian and then as University Librarian Emeritus, and did so until his death on November 26, 1996.

Starting with only four books, the library immediately began to grow through generous donations from other religious institutions as well as through the founder’s judicious purchases, and went on to become the largest of its kind in Canada. The excellent quality of the library has long been recognized by scholars in philosophy, medieval studies and theology. As early as 1963, in a survey conducted for the National Conference of Canadian Universities and Colleges, Edwin E. Williams of Harvard University stated: “Ottawa (i.e. Saint Paul University) has nationally outstanding collections for philosophy and religious history, with advanced research holdings for work in … medieval studies.”

The organization of the collection follows that of the Library of Congress, with some adaptations in the fields of theology, church history and canon law.

As a research library, our institution seeks to embrace the principal languages and intellectual traditions in its fields of concentration (i.e. theology, philosophy, canon law, and related topics). Beyond these specialties, the user will also find general works in other disciplines.

A non-circulating research facility, the Jean-Léon Allie Library serves an international student population with a high percentage of students at the post-graduate level. Our location in Ottawa provides a unique opportunity for our students to partake of the riches of other government and research libraries. To name only a few, these include Library and Archives Canada, the library of the Dominican College, and those of the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.