The Toronto Reference Library is located at 789 Yonge Street, one block north of Bloor Street, in Toronto, Ontario. Formerly the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, the name was changed in 1998 when it was incorporated into the Toronto Public Library system. The 416,035 sq. ft. (38,691 sq. m.) five-storey buiding, designed by architect Raymond Moriyama, opened in 1977 and is the biggest public reference library in Canada. The library's collection is mostly non-circulating. , although some materials can be borrowed. Now part of the larger Toronto Public Library system, the reference library operated separately prior to 1998. It is one of three large libraries in the city, which includes the Robarts Library at the University of Toronto and Scott Library at York University. The library has 1,653,665 catalogued items , including:
  • 1.5 million volumes (monographs and bound periodicals)
  • 2.5 million other materials (films, tapes, microforms, maps, fine art, ephemera, etc.)
  • 360,000 linear metres of manuscript materials
The TD Gallery is the library's exhibit gallery, and features exhibits of art, books, documents, manuscripts and other items from the collections. The Gallery is currently closed for renovations. Like all libraries in the Toronto Public Library system, the Reference library offers free wireless Internet, as well as computers that can be used free of charge. Many of these public computers are located on the first floor, but they are also available and on all floors including the basement. The Digital Design Studio, provides access to more advanced software and staff assistance for a small fee.

Special Collections
Among the special collections at the Toronto Reference Library are:
  • The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, devoted to the life and works of the creator of Sherlock Holmes, is housed in a room built to look like 221B Baker Street.
  • The Baldwin Room, a collection of books, pamphlets, periodicals, manuscripts, broadsides and printed ephemera, maps, newspapers and historical pictures relating to Upper Canada (now Ontario) and to early Toronto. This collection is named for Robert Baldwin, a leading political reformer in Upper Canada and pre- Confederation Premier. However, it also includes a Canadian historical picture collection illustrating the history of Canada, originally donated to the library in 1910 by John Ross Robertson (1841-1918), founder and publisher of the Toronto Telegram and a major philanthropist of the Hospital for Sick Children, which now contains thousands of historical paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and postcards.
  • The Genealogy and Local History Collection, whose strength is Canadian content but which also includes numerous resources for Great Britain, Ireland and the United States (particularly the northeastern states).
  • The Map Collection of current and historical maps, atlases, gazetteers and cartography resources is international in scope. Some of the resources it includes are: maps of Toronto from 1788 to the present, Toronto fire insurance plans and Goad atlases, as well as current and retrospective topographic and photo maps of the Toronto area.
  • The Art Room containing rare books, photographs, posters and manuscripts, including important costume design and sheet music collections.
The library also has an extensive performing arts collection, including papers and information on many Canadian artists, such as Al Waxman and The Dumbells . Some of the materials in this collection are available online.

The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon
The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library is an event space located on the second floor of the Toronto Reference Library. It opened to the public on September 23, 2009. The Salon hosts free literary and cultural programming organized by the library. When not in use for library programs, the Salon is available to rent for private functions.

Building Activity

  • updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via Annotator
  • activity.buildings_person.create and updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via