While the Canaday Center follows the general mission of the University Libraries, its unique collections and services require a distinct mission:
To collect, preserve, and make available rare and unique materials that support the curricular and research needs of University of Toledo student and faculty and the greater scholarly community. The Center's collections include rare books, manuscripts, and the University of Toledo Archives. The Center's exhibitions display and interpret aspects of the collections in ways that contribute to the university's educational mission.
Since the Canaday Center's founding in 1979, our mission has changed from being focused almost exclusively on rare books to becoming a fully-functional and modern special collections department. In recent years, it has excelled at the development of its manuscripts collections, particularly in two areas: the history of Toledo's business and industry (especially the glass industry) and the history of disability in Northwest Ohio.
The Center fulfills this mission through its collections and services. The Center has an active program to collect materials in all three designated areas of responsibility. Its manuscript collection development is guided by a collection development policy that outlines areas of collecting focus. University Archives collections are added through the implementation of the records management program and through other donations of materials deemed to be of permanent historical value. Rare books are purchased that support established collecting areas (including printed materials related to the manuscripts collections). And since 2000, the Canaday Center has continuously developed a digital curation program with virtual exhibitions, from 2007 with digital heritage collections, and more recently, with a new role in planning the development of an institutional repository for born-digital institutional records and scholarly communication materials.