The University of Toronto’s library system comprises over 40 libraries and resource centres. As a graduate student, you will have access to most of these marvellous collections. These collections are linked through an online catalogue system, which provides information on books in all the campus libraries and can connect you to other library catalogues around the world.

The following is a list of libraries that you will be most likely to consult as an English student:

John P. Robarts Library

Robarts is the graduate research library on campus. This brutalist architectural wonder will be home to innumerable hours of your graduate student work. Among its many facilities, you will find the following most useful:

Media Commons

Located on the third floor, the Media Commons is made up of three collections: media archives, audio-visual, and microform. The microform collection includes recent journals and papers as well as early books and theses on microfilm. Several machines in the area can photocopy from microfilm ($0.20 per page). The audio-Vvsual library is an indispensable part of any modern study. It includes a wonderful selection of all kinds of films, from instructional videos to all the classics, and is staffed by a friendly and helpful group of people.

CHASS Computer Centre

Take the stack elevator to the 14th floor to get to the Computing in the Humanities and Social Sciences lab. You can get a free account at CHASS, which gives you access to IBM and Mac PCs any time during the library’s opening hours. There are two laser printers and a special thesis room which can be booked for printing really clean copies for submissions to journals or for your dissertation ($0.10 per page, $0.05 if you bring your own paper). CHASS also gives several workshops on applications, such as constructing a web page.

Study Carrels and Book Lockers

Upon application (online; ask at Robarts information desk for help if necessary) upper-year PhDs are assigned closed carrels on the 13th floor of Robarts. If you are an MA or PhD 1, you can apply for a locker and a special card to sign out numerous books (but for use within the library only) for three months. We recommend going in person to the Carrel Office (room 1008 on the ground floor) to ensure your online application hasn’t gone awry. Second-year PhDs can get a carrel to share with another PhD: again, the path of least resistance is to go in person with your chosen carrel buddy after applying online.

Notable Collections at Robarts:

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library delivers what it promises.  You will need to sign up for a separate card to access the Fisher Collection. Make sure you do because this library is a treasure-trove of rare materials. Be sure to follow the paramilitary requirements (no pens, large bags or briefcases), and expect a negative reply to most requests for photocopying. But the value of examining early books is worth overcoming every regulation. Fisher also presents lectures throughout the term, often accompanied by exhibits on the main floor. The library’s architecture—particularly the interior’s open shelving structure—is also worth an appreciative look.

Woodhouse Collection is located on the 13th floor, this collection of literature (non-circulating, so always available) was founded by former chair of the department of English and Milton scholar A.S.P. Woodhouse. Scholarly editions of most English authors plus bibliographies and some essential research books are there, as well as the OED (so you don’t have to go down to the reference area on the fourth floor).

Dictionary of Old English, also known as the DOE, is located on the 14th floor, accessible from the elevators on the second floor. The staff, consisting mainly of faculty and students from the Centre for Mediæval Studies, is dedicated to creating a comprehensive dictionary of every word in Old English; as a result, facsimiles of every manuscript containing Old English may be found there.


Other Libraries


Victoria College / E. J. Pratt Library

This newly renovated library has an extensive collection of holdings of Coleridge, Erasmus, Tennyson, Virginia Woolf, and the papers of Northrop Frye. It also houses the non-lending Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) Library. This library is worth a visit for the interior decorating and the pleasant, comfy chairs.

Trinity College / John H. Graham Library

The Graham Library, in the Munk Centre at Trinity College, is another source for English students. It also has some of the most well-appointed study spaces (with fireplaces and dangerously comfortable armchairs) on campus.

St. Michael’s College / John M. Kelly Library

This library also has a very good collection for English students’ purposes. You can rent a locker there for the year if you don’t want to carry books around with you. On the fourth floor is the non-lending Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies (PIMS) Library. Getting a card to use this facility can be difficult; if you need to use the PIMS, try getting a letter of reference from a faculty member working in the field first.

Knox College Library

Knox is a beautiful space with mostly theological holdings, with some works pertaining to history and English.

Innis College Library

Although small, this library holds a good Film Studies collection.

New College / Donald Ivey Library

An excellent Women’s Studies collection can be found here; some of its materials are not catalogued on UTCat, so check it out if you can’t find Kristeva elsewhere. It is also quite good for African Studies.

Robertson Davies Library, Massey College

This library collects texts pertaining to the history of printing and the book trade and other related fields of interest.

Metro Toronto Reference Library

This is the central main branch of the Toronto public library system. Located off-campus at 789 Yonge St., it is a non-circulating library, and a good place to go if campus libraries don’t have what you are looking for. It is a good place to find periodicals, and holds decent collections in the areas of theatre, multicultural literature, and linguistics. It is also worth noting that materials in the Toronto library system can be browsed online and transferred between branches.