Municipal public libraries serve the large cities and many small towns and rural areas; regional units supply library service to scattered population areas. Traveling libraries, operated by provincial governments or university extension departments, also provide mail services for more isolated individuals and communities. Although public libraries are organized and financed by municipalities, in most provinces the provincial government supervises library services and makes grants to the municipal units. Special libraries of various kinds and at various levels serve limited groups. The National Library of Canada, founded in 1953 in Ottawa, collects, preserves, and promotes Canada's published heritage with almost 20 million items. Canada also has a number of major academic libraries, most notably at the University of Toronto, which itself has over 14 million volumes. In 2002, Canada had a total of 3,932 libraries, including 1,673 public libraries, 484 academic libraries, 380 government libraries, and a variety of special libraries.
The National Library at Ottawa (6,300,000 volumes) publishes Canadiana, a monthly catalog of books and pamphlets relating to Canada, and maintains the National Union Catalogue of books in all major Canadian libraries.
There are about 2,000 museums, art galleries, and related institutions in Canada. Major museums located in Ottawa include the National Arts Center, the National Gallery of Canada (including the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography), the Canadian Museum of Nature, and the National Museum of Science and Technology (including the National Aviation Museum and the Agriculture Museum). Other notable Canadian museums include the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and the Fine Arts Museum in Montreal. The major museums and art galleries, located in the principal cities, provide valuable educational services to adults and children; many supply traveling exhibitions for their surrounding areas or regions. The National Gallery conducts extension work throughout the country and sends many exhibitions on tour.