The Carleton Library Series was founded by Carleton University professor of English, R. L. McDougall and the Institute of Canadian Studies in the 1950s with the aim of editing, publishing, and disseminating documents that were important to Canadian history. The CLS published inexpensive paperback editions of Canadian texts in the fields of history, politics, economics, anthropology, sociology, geography, and journalism. It also differentiated itself from the New Canadian Library--also published by McClelland and Stewart--which published classic works of Canadian literary fiction.
The first volume, The Lord Durham Report, was released in 1963 under the McClelland Stewart imprint. Each year, more volumes relating to important moments in Canada’s past appeared. They were edited and introduced by historians from across the country under the direction of an editorial board consisting of Carleton University professors in English, History, Geography, Canadian Studies, and other disciplines.
In 1972, Michael Gnarowski, a Canadian poet, figure in the small press movement in Montreal, and Professor of Modern Canadian Poetry came to Carleton University and assumed the position of General-Editor of the CLS. It was under his editorship that the CLS was became published under the Carleton University Press imprint in 1981. At this time, the Canadian publishing industry was experiencing hard times and a lack of funding, so for fear of losing the CLS--an important academic enterprise that added lustre to the scholarly enterprises of the faculty--the University decided to publish the series itself in order to preserve it. The Carleton University Press would publish the Carleton Library Series until 1999.
With the demise of Carleton University Press, McGill-Queen’s University Press became the publisher of the Series. Working with McGill-Queen’s, the CLS editorial board has continued to re-publish volumes of historical significance and to publish new monographs that hold promise of becoming authoritative in their field. Furthermore, over the past fifteen years, the Carleton Library Series has broadened the scope of the series to include works important to the history of the social sciences in Canada – such as economics, law, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, and public policy.