Libraries at U of T: Gotta catch ’em all

So it’s been a week since classes started. Seven whole days, phew. Everybody stop and pat yourselves on the back, so far so good! For all the first-years out there, you’re probably still navigating your way around campus and slowly but surely, beginning to recognize the buildings you pass by. For example, you’ll be pretty familiar by now with our resident cement turkey, I mean, peacock.

Photo of Robarts library
a peacock is basically a psychedelic turkey, does it really make a difference?
(either way, it’s a magnificent cement bird)
Photo Credit: Makeda Marc-Ali

Robarts really seems to be the go-to study spot for most people, just because of how central its location is and how easy it is to find.

In September of last year, I, too, alternated between Robarts and my bed for studying sessions (I think you can tell where I got the most work done). But I never really went beyond that. I think I pretty much assumed that Robarts was the U of T library and left it at that. Obviously, I was in for a surprise when I found out we have a whopping 44 libraries at U of T, all of which are accessible to us with just our *~* magical *~* T-Cards.

If you’ll remember, one of the things I’m trying to achieve this year is to get a little diverse with my study spots and check out all the libraries U of T.

Now, I’m no Columbus, I’ve only gotten through a few so far (and thankfully have the whole year ahead of me) but I’m really enjoying exploring campus more and also observing how my studying patterns change with each new location. (The prettier the library, the more time I spend gazing around before actually getting to work.)

Also, can we please talk about how Hogwarts-like our campus is? All of these libraries made me feel like I'd walked onto the Harry Potter film set (fully expected Madam Pince to appear and and yell at me for biting into a granola bar.)

So, for your viewing pleasure, here are the libraries I’ve visited so far - and in true Potterhead fashion, ranked in terms of likeness to a Hogwarts location:

  1. John W. Graham Library

Harry Potter Level: Gryffindor Common Room

photo of Reading Room at Graham Library

Squashy chintz armchairs and a fireplace make the Graham Library Reading Room hands-down the coziest place to be on a cold day. Other than bed of course, but you can’t have everything in life.

our very own Gryffindor common room! second photo source:
our very own Gryffindor common room!
second photo source:

     2.   Knox College Library

Harry Potter Level: Great Hall

knox college library with orange stained glass window in background

I fell in love with this library’s magnificent orange stained glass window that casts a warm golden glow over the room.

     3.  Hart House Library

Harry Potter Level: Dumbledore’s Office

picture of the hart house library ceiling

Just like Dumbledore’s office, I love how Hart House Library has so many interesting little things about it - the tiny corner study nooks, complete with mini chandeliers and small paintings to look at, shelves by the windows and books with intriguing covers propped up on them.

just look at this beautiful copy of Hugo Cabaret
just look at this beautiful copy of Hugo Cabret I found by the window

      4.   Emmanuel College Library

Harry Potter Level: Hogwarts Library

view looking down from second floor of emannuel library- stacks of books and gothic chandeliers and wooden beams

Can it GET any more Hogwarts than this?

I think not source:
I think not

     5.  Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Harry Potter Level: The Restricted Section


Fisher Library is one of the grandest out there, with its plush red carpet and towering amber lights

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
Photo Credit: Makeda Marc-Ali

Clad in a sweatshirt and Converse, I definitely felt like I was somewhere I shouldn’t be, hence my 'Restricted Section' label, although it is accessible to everyone and one of the most stunning places on campus.

Fun fact: one of the may rare books Fisher Library holds is Shakespeare's First Folio, published in 1623.

     6.   Laidlaw Library

Harry Potter Level: Ravenclaw Common Room

arched windows at laidlaw library

photo of the panelled ceiling and desks at laidlaw library

 Laidlaw Library has become one of my favourites ever since I came across it by accident on the way to a class at UC. It’s big, bright and airy with lots of natural light streaming in thanks to the arched windows and each desk has a wooden separator in between, making focused studying that much easier. (Remember, "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure.")

Laidlaw is what I imagine the spacious, airy Ravenclaw common room would look like.

So with that, it's six down, 38 more libraries to go!

What’s your favourite library, U of T ?

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