By E. Walczak & J. Sparks, Family Care Office
As the seasons change here at the University of Toronto (U of T) and classwork ramps up, balancing school and home life can become increasingly complicated, particularly for students with family responsibilities. That’s why several libraries at U of T have resources specifically for students who are balancing family life and classes.
U of T Mississauga
The University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Library has a multitude of resources for students with family responsibilities!
For example, board games from the UTM library’s collection can be borrowed for 72 hours and may be taken home or enjoyed on campus with family. Some of the most popular games include: Uno, Exploding Kittens, and Scrabble. The UTM library also has playing cards, chess, checkers, Monopoly, Battleship, as well as Settlers of Catan, Tokaido, Hanabi, and others.
As well, UTM’s Novelties Leisure Reading Collection includes hundreds of titles including graphic novels and non-English-language items. New books are added through the year.
UTM’s Group Study Rooms can be booked by current UTM students and some rooms are large enough to accommodate strollers. Some also have in-room screens that could be used to provide young children with entertainment.
At busy and stressful times of the year, UTM Library Ambassadors, peer-to-peer outreach and engagement facilitators, offer a variety of de-stress events for students. These events start around mid-terms and peak during exam study week. A big draw during these events are therapy dog visits as well as facilitated in-library crafts, massage therapist-led mini-massages, and snacks! All UTM students, including those accompanied by family members are welcome!
UTM’s Digital Exploration Lab offers 3D printing. Children can see the 3D printers at work through the glass doors enclosing the space.
U of T Scarborough
The University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) Library also has a variety of resources for students with family responsibilities.
For example, the UTSC Seed Library is another family-friendly resource, with seeds students can share and take home to grow with children and other family members. This library also has two standing UV lamps for treating seasonal affective disorder.
UTSC’s Library Makerspace offers a variety of equipment and tech for both in library use and at home. For example, the makerspace’s equipment loans include: sewing machines, lego robotics kits, circuits, and other equipment resources that may be checked out by UTSC students. Some of the makerspace’s resources may be shared by students with their family members at home.
The UTSC library also loans video games for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Wii / Switch consoles. It’s cookbook collection, diverse magazines, and popular novels may also appeal to students and their family members.
U of T St. George
The University of Toronto St. George Campus (UTSG) Libraries also have resources for students with family responsibilities, such as:
The John P. Robarts Research Library houses the “official” study space for students with families within the U of T library system. The Family Study Space is designated for students with children under 12 years old. This space has an inventory of toys, seating, computers, and other family-friendly equipment. A FOB is needed to access this study space and pre-registration is required. This is a great space to connect with other students with children and to coordinate group study sessions, where you can take turns minding the little ones while others work.
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) Library has a children’s literature section, which is a great resource for children of all ages. In addition to books, OISE offers loanable kid kits, which are bags of educational toys and activities for young children. They also offer remote e-resources for children, such as the TumbleBook e-library, which can be accessed both at home and from campus.
While the Earth Sciences Library does not offer services specific for students with families. Occasionally, this library hosts family-friendly events, such as the upcoming Beeping Dino Egg Hunt on Nov 4, 2023 for families with visually impaired children.
As well, although it is one of the smaller libraries on the St. George campus, the Engineering and Computer Science Library offers loanable toy kits for all members of the U of T community. The kits are a great tool for children of all ages, and can be loaned out for up to two weeks.
The Gerstein Science Information Center also offers a family workstation with seating for a student with an infants or baby. This is a great study spot for students with young children. No reservations are required. Seating is first come-first served
The Knox College Library, has options for families with older children. This library’s curated collection of Picture Books in Ministry discuss topics relevant to church leadership, education, psychotherapy, etc. Their current collection, now on display, highlights resources related to Truth and Reconciliation.
U of T’s Tri-campus Library Spaces Welcome All!
U of T’s tri-campus digital library resources can be enjoyed from home and with family members. In particular, U of T’s digital library offerings include a range of streaming and video resources, some of which may be appropriate for children and students can use with their family members. U of T Libraries offer access to hundreds of streaming videos, including family-friendly films via the Criterion collection. All streaming platforms are available from one convenient Streaming Video Portal.
In particular, the UTM Library, offers a Remote Wellness Supports collection. In this online space, one can find videos and guides on crafts for beginners, links to films, online board games, and audio books, cooking tutorials, DYI and language courses, and the always popular colouring pages. These detailed and unique colouring materials include the #ColourOurCollections international library colouring books from 802 universities and institutions of higher learning.
Additional, resources for students when visiting a U of T Library with family members are the nearby on-campus chest feeding & nursing areas. As well, many U of T campuses libraries (not all) have baby change areas nearby. Check out the Family Care Office’s webpage for our ‘Nursing at U of T’ listing.
On a final note, the Family Care Office also has a library space, which students, faculty, & staff and their family members are welcome to use from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. by appointment. The FCO library offers a small but child friendly reading space where students, faculty and staff can check out children’s books, parenting books, eldercare books, and other titles related to family responsibilities (i.e. separation/divorce, caring for an elderly or ill family member, bereavement, etc.).
In summary, U of T libraries endeavour to welcome and be inclusive to all students and their families. Of course, if there is something you or your family member needs while visiting your local campus library – don’t be afraid to ask!
The authors, E. Walczak & J. Sparks wish to acknowledge the contributions of the Tri-campus U of T Library Staff who contributed much of the information shared in this blog.