Access Existing Data


The Library's data collection is comprised primarily of quantitative digital research data from various disciplines in the social, humanities, health, and physical sciences.These data can be accessed directly through links listed under the Data Types sidebar, or may be retrieved on request by Library Staff.

Data Types

Through subscriptions with data providers and purchases, the Library provides access to many types of data. Actual holdings for the data types described below are accessible through the Library.

  • MICRODATA comprise of information on each individual, household, business, etc., responding to a survey, with codes (usually numbers) representing the response to each question asked.
  • AGGREGATE DATA are summary-level data, the result of applying statistical analyses to microdata, and are commonly referred to interchangeably with the term 'statistics'. Aggregate data are often presented in the form of statistical tables.
  • TIME SERIES are observations of the same variable (e.g., unemployment rate) made over time, usually at a regular interval such as weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.
  • TEXTUAL DATA comprise of speech and text databases, lexicons, text corpora, and other metadata-added textual resources used for language and linguistic research.
  • SPATIAL DATA describe both the location of a geographic feature and its attributes, usually stored as coordinates and topology.

Mediated Access

Some data providers require the Library to act as a mediator between their data products and those wanting a copy of the data. These data typically are restricted to researchers meeting the access criteria stipulated in the data provider's licence. The Library's DLI licence with Statistics Canada is an example of a data provider requiring mediated access.

Some data mediation is administered only through a secure data facility where a researcher must go to work with the data. The Library houses a Statistics Canada Research Data Centre (RDC) that is an example of such a facility. The Alberta RDC is a secure facility for selected Statistics Canada confidential data. Through this service, researchers have access to detailed data that are not available through Statistics Canada DLI public use microdata . For further information about the Alberta RDC, contact