Visitors’ Books

Collection Spotlight

Visitors’ Books

The Library of Parliament’s Rare Book Room is home to unique titles, placed there for their rarity, age, fragility, historic significance, or other similar factor. Some of these rare books also form part of the Library’s institutional memory. Such is the case for the Library’s visitors’ books, where guests who have been captivated by the Library over the past 100 years have signed their name and sometimes left a personal note. Moving in political, diplomatic, royal and artistic circles, many distinguished guests from all over the world have toured the Main Library since it opened in Centre Block in 1876. Some of these visitors have written a page in our history by signing our visitors’ books.

The Library of Parliament has a number of visitors’ books, each one with its own style of binding, gold tooling, paper, calligraphy and design techniques. These leather-bound volumes contain visitors’ signatures, with the earliest ones dating back to the 1920s. The Library moved away from commercial bindings in the 1960s, and its preservation laboratory has been crafting hand-made visitors’ books ever since. The most recent books feature decorative elements, such as endpapers from watered silk or marbled paper, custom-made for the Library of Parliament, or gilded edges, embossing and even gold tooling. The calligraphy on the inner pages varies greatly from one book to another. These days, talented Library of Parliament employees sometimes do the lettering, the coats of arms and even the official seals within the pages of the visitors’ books.


  • Visitors’ books are kept in the Rare Book Room; the current book is kept in the Parliamentary Librarian’s office, ready to be signed by future distinguished guests.
  • The most recent books have blue leather covers, the official colour of the Library of Parliament.
  • The preservation laboratory has provided its expertise for similar projects, such as guestbooks for the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons. Each of these guestbooks comes with a premium protective case decorated with marbled paper.
4 guest books stacked on top of each other, showing their colorful leather bindings that feature gold decorations
These four visitors’ books in the Rare Book Room have been signed by visitors to the Library of Parliament from 1923 to 1925, 1934 to 1941, 1964 to 1984, and 1984 to 2000.
Visitor's book open to Barack Obama's signature page
A page from the current visitors’ book, showing the signature of the Honourable Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, upon his visit to the Library on 29 June 2016.
Cover of the current visitor's book.
Current visitors’ book, bound in leather with an ochre-coloured mosaic featuring the Library’s logo and made by the Library of Parliament’s preservation laboratory.