Toronto Public Library

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Toronto Public Library
Country Canada
Established 1884
Location Toronto, Ontario
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Branches 100[1]
Size 11 million (2013)
Access and use
Circulation 32,032,036 (2012)[2]
Population served 2,615,060 (2012) [3]
Other information
Budget $182,030,341 (2013)[4]
Director Vickery Bowles (City Librarian)

Toronto Public Library (TPL) (French: Bibliothèque publique de Toronto) is a public library system based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the largest public library system in Canada and in 2008, had averaged a higher circulation per capita than any other public library system internationally, making it the largest neighbourhood-based library system in the world.[5] Within North America, it also had the highest circulation and visitors when compared to other large urban systems.[6] Established as the library of the Mechanics' Institute in 1830, the Toronto Public Library now consists of 100 branch libraries[1] and has over 12 million items in its collection.[6][7][8][9]


Yorkville Library, one of several Carnegie libraries in Toronto

In 1830, a library was established in the York Mechanics' Institute. In 1884, the collection became the Toronto Public Library. James Bain was the first chief librarian and he supplemented the collection with $15,000 worth of books purchased on a trip to England in late 1883.[10] Between 1907 and 1916, ten libraries were built with funds from the Andrew Carnegie Trust. Several of these Carnegie libraries continue to be used by the public library; one, the original Central Reference Library, is now the Koffler Student Centre at the University of Toronto.[11]

Henry Cummings Campbell was Chief Librarian of the Toronto Public Library from 1956 to 1978, and the first Chief Librarian to hold a professional library degree. He is credited for having contributed to the expansion of the library and its adaptation to an increasingly dynamic and multicultural city.[12]

Prior to the Amalgamation of Toronto in 1998, each of the former municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto operated their own public libraries.[13] They include:

  • Etobicoke Public Library: in the City of Etobicoke, which established 1950 with 13 branches
  • North York Public Library: in the City of North York, which established 1955 with 19 branches
  • York Public Library: in the City of York, which established 1967 with 6 branches
  • East York Public Library: in the Borough of East York, which established 1967 with 5 branches
  • Scarborough Public Library: in the City of Scarborough, which established 1955 with 19 branches
  • Metro Toronto Public Library: across Metropolitan Toronto, which established 1967 with 1 branch
  • Toronto Public Library: in Old Toronto, which established 1883 with 33 branches

When the Government of Ontario amalgamated the former municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto, the individual library boards and the Toronto Reference Library merged into the Toronto Public Library.[14] The merger caused the Toronto Public Library to become the largest library system in North America, serving a population of 2.3 million people with 98 branches at the time.

In 2004, a new library was opened in the St. James Town neighbourhood of Toronto, bringing the total number of branches to 99. New branches are scheduled to open on Fort York Boulevard at Bathurst Street and in Scarborough City Centre in 2014.[15] The Municipal Affairs branch closed in September 2011, bringing the number of branches to back to 98.[16]


The Toronto Public Library is governed by a Board appointed by Toronto City Council. The Board is composed of eight citizen members, four Toronto City Councillors and the Mayor or his designate.[citation needed]



The library's collection count is approximately 11 million items.[17]

Notable special collections

Toronto Public Library's notable special collections include The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, The Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, and The Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection.[18][19][20][21]

eBook & eMagazine collections

The Toronto Public Library offers audiobook, e-book, and eMagazine services, including OverDrive eBooks & eAudiobooks, Zinio eMagazines, OneClick Digital eAudiobooks, Safari Tech & Business Books Online, TumbleBook Library, Ebsco eBooks, delivered via the library's website.[22]


The Toronto Public Library technology services include public access computers and free wireless internet access in all branches. The Library also provides access to e-books and other electronic collections. The Toronto Public Library website allows users to reserve materials and have them transferred to the user's preferred branch. [23]


TPL Bookmobile

The TPL operates two Bookmobile buses (24' Blue Bird CS), targeting communities who lack easy access to a neighbourhood branch. There are 32 regular Bookmobile stops in Toronto, including one on Ward's Island.[24] The bookmobile concept was previously used in the library systems of the former municipalities of North York and Scarborough as well as in Toronto as far back as 1955.[citation needed]


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Pelley, Lauren (20 May 2015). "Toronto Public Library opens 100th branch in Scarborough". Toronto Star. Retrieved 20 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "2012 Annual Performance Measures" (PDF). Toronto Public Library. 2013-02-08. Retrieved 2014-02-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "(Code 3520) Census Profile. 2011 census". Statistics Canada. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2012-04-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "2013 Financial Reports". Toronto Public Library. 2014-10-25. Retrieved 2014-10-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The Great Equalizer: Toronto Public Library". Cities of Migration. April 16, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "2009 Annual Performance Measures and Strategic Plan Update" (PDF). Toronto Public Library. Retrieved 4 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Kupferman, Steve (28 May 2014). "Fort York gets the ultimate condo amenity: a flashy new public library". Toronto Life. Toronto Life Publishing Company. Retrieved 29 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Message from the Mayor" (PDF). Toronto Public Library Strategic Plan 2000-2008. Toronto Public Library Board. 2000. p. 4. Retrieved 7 August 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "History of Toronto Public Library". Toronto Public Library. 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Topics of the Week". The Week : a Canadian journal of politics, literature, science and arts. 1 (2): 17. 13 Dec 1883.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. [1] Archived February 21, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  12. "In Memoriam Henry Cummings Campbell" by Paula de Ronde, August 24th, 2009, Hart House, University of Toronto.
  14. "City of Toronto Act, 1997, SO 1997, c 2". CanLII. Retrieved 2014-03-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Woods, Michael (Sep 15, 2011). "Tears flow as Urban Affairs library closes". The Toronto Star. Toronto. Retrieved September 17, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "About the Library : Toronto Public Library". Retrieved 2014-03-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Arthur Conan Doyle Collection
  19. Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation & Fantasy
  20. Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books
  21. Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection
  22. eBook & eMagazine Services
  23. "FAQ : How do I place a hold on the website?". Retrieved 2014-08-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Bookmobiles : Hours & Locations : Toronto Public Library". Retrieved 2014-03-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links