Monday, March 2, 2009

The Toronto Public Library

One thing I truly admire in Toronto is the The Toronto Public Library (TPL). The TPL is the largest public library system in Canada, with 99 branches and more than 11 million items to borrow or use in the library. What amazes me?

Items to borrow – books (hardbound, bookbound, large print), magazines (of every topic), videos, DVDs, music CDs, audio books (in CDs or cassettes). And mind you, it is not English only items you find. Some branches have materials in Hindu, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Greek, whatever language you speak. I even get to borrow Filipino DVDs from the branch near our home.

Basic Service – You can choose the books you want just by browsing their site. Found the book you want? Place it on hold and request them delivered to a branch convenient to you. No need to hop from branch to branch. Returning items? You can do it 24/7. All branches have that special nook where you can drop your items when they are closed. Computers, Internet access, copying services, even reasearh assistance is available.

Extended service – during cold winter months, these libraries open their doors to any homeless person needing warmth. On very warm summer days, they also become cooling centers offering shelter and water.

Service de Luxe – The library caters not only to the able public, but also to the not so able public. They have the Bookmobile – a bus that make stops at community centres, apartment complexes and shopping centres around the city. Complete with computer access to the Library’s online catalogue, databases and web page, the Bookmobile is also equipped with a wheelchair lift. There is the Home Library Service, the Dial A Story Service, Hospital Service, and a lot more.

The branch I like best? The big Toronto Reference Library. I say big, because it can accommodate 1,420 people in its more than 3 floors. This branch has periodicals for 87 languages, Ilocano and Tagalog (counted separately) included. Items cannot be borrowed from this branch, but it is worth visiting once in a while. I am always in awe by the magnificence of this place – then I end up not knowing where to look for the items I want.

And by the way, all these services from our Toronto Public Library is for free. As I said, simply amazing!

Do you still visit the library?


  1. Couldn't agree with you more! I love the Toronto Public Library and the beautiful Moriyama-designed Reference Library. Just to let your readers know that the Reference Library does have books for borrowing in the Browsery on the first floor. Because not many people know that it's there, you can often find books on the shelves there that aren't always available at other branches.

  2. Anonymous,
    Can you imagine I go to the Reference Library a lot and yet I just assume nothing there can be borrowed? Yeeyy !I learned something today! Have to check that section. Thanks for the info.

  3. Aren't you glad you are in Canada?... except for the cold...


  4. Yes, we still go there. In fact last Sunday all in the family went to the main branch and spent a good portion of the day. Of course, everybody has found their literary interest (which is pretty much diverse). This branch doesn't disappoint rather it amazes us!

  5. Dang,
    I just wish our libraries back home will have even half of what we have here.
    Library outing is a good activity during the cold days of winter - and at minimal cost too!