ACMLA actively serves as the representative professional group for Canadian map librarians, cartographic archivists and others interested in geographic information in all formats. Since its inception in 1967, the achievements of the Association have been notable, including a vigorous publishing program, development of professional standards and international cataloguing rules, and efforts to increase national awareness of issues concerning spatial information and recognition of the contribution of map libraries and cartographic archives. The objectives of the ACMLA are:
- To encourage and support the development of high standards in the management of and access to geographic information.
- To encourage and support activities which further the awareness, use, and understanding of geographic information.
- To develop and maintain communication networks for the exchange of ideas and information among members.
- To support members’ professional development activities as these relate to the objectives of the Association.
- To encourage and support students who wish to participate in the activities of the Association.
The ACMLA archives contain letters between Joan Winearls, University of Toronto and Karen Edwards (later Lochhead), Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, from the fall of 1966 speculating on whether a national conference could be pulled together to address the concerns of the growing map library community: concerns they had talked about before themselves and with T.E. (Ted) Layng, Chief of the Map Division of the Public Archives of Canada. Letters were sent out to more than 75 map-related professionals inviting them to attend a ‘Conference on Map Libraries and Map Collections in Canada’ to be held in Ottawa at the Public Archives, 12-16 June, 1967. The conference was convened by four interested map librarians - Joan, Karen, Ted and Yves Tessier (UniversitÃƒÂ© Laval, whom Joan had encountered at an American map librarians’ conference).
About 70 people attended the conference to discuss common problems and to investigate the possibility of a national organization, a national union catalogue of map holdings, and other co-operative ventures of use to map libraries. The first Directory of Canadian Map Collections was printed in 1969 and consisted of 87 collections, costing $1.00 for members and $2.00 to non-members. The first course in map librarianship was taught in the summer of 1970 by Joan Winearls at the School of Library Science, University of Toronto.
Twenty years after its founding, the name of the Association was changed to the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives (ACMLA), to reflect the diverse nature of its membership and to enhance the possibilities of archivist members to obtain support to attend meetings. In 1967, 37 people located from one coast to the other became ‘full’ members of ACML. This group has grown, matured, institutionalized and made its mark nationally and internationally in the field of map librarianship.