Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

Identity area



Authorized form of name

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

Parallel form(s) of name

Other form(s) of name

  • Fisher Library


  • University

Contact area


Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library Primary contact



Street address

120 St. George St.





Country name


Postal code

M5S 1A5






Description area


The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library houses the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections including books, manuscripts and other materials. The present building was opened in 1973. It is named in honour of Thomas Fisher (1792-1874), who came from Yorkshire to Upper Canada in 1821 and settled by the Humber River. His great- grandsons, Sidney and Charles Fisher, donated to the Library their own collections of Shakespeare, various twentieth century authors, and etchings of the seventeenth century Bohemian artist, Wenceslaus Hollar. Since that time the Library has grown to approximately 700,000 volumes and 3000 linear metres of manuscript holdings.

Geographical and cultural context

Mandates/Sources of authority

The mandate of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is to foster the search for knowledge by supporting research and learning across all disciplines taught at the University of Toronto. The Library acquires, makes accessible and preserves comprehensive research collections of national and international significance. It serves the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the University, as well as the general public.

Administrative structure

Records management and collecting policies



The Library houses over 750 manuscript collections (4000 linear metres) covering a wide range of subject areas. It includes collections of literary, historical and personal papers for individuals and organizations, with a focus on Canadiana.

Holdings range from a collection of about 40 third-century B.C. Egyptian papyri; to papers of the co-discoverers of insulin: Banting, Best, Collip and Macleod; and finally to drafts, research notes, and correspondence of Canadian authors such as Margaret Atwood, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Leonard Cohen, Mazo de la Roche and Josef Skvorecky. The majority of our manuscript collections date from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries and pertain to Canadian historical, literary, artistic or scientific fields.

Access area

Opening times

Monday-Friday 9:00AM-5:00PM
Thursdays during the academic year: 9:00AM-8:00PM

Closed on statutory and University holidays.

The Reading Room closes 15 minutes before the building closes.

Access conditions and requirements

The resources of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library may be used by all scholars and researchers, whether or not they are members of the University of Toronto community. A University of Toronto Library card is not necessary to access the collections, but onsite registration is required. A Fisher reader's card must be completed and identification with name and current address (e.g. driver's license, photo health card, etc.) will be requested.

Researchers wishing to consult manuscript material must complete a Manuscript Use Form for each manuscript collection or individual manuscript they wish to consult, briefly outlining the purpose of their research or reason for their request. Please note that some collections have access restrictions in accordance with the wishes of donors or creators.

Readers may submit retrieval requests in person at the Library, or in advance by using our online Stack Retrieval Request Form:


Services area

Research services

*Ask a Librarian:

In order to provide assistance to readers, the Reference Desk and Reading Room are staffed whenever the Library is open. The Reference Desk staff offer assistance in locating material in subjects and areas of interest. Although the majority of the collection is represented by records in the University of Toronto Library catalogue some material is described only in onsite finding aids or card files. The Reference Desk staff are able to assist readers in locating uncatalogued material and in recommending search strategies in the online catalogue to help in locating relevant material at the Fisher Library. The Reading Room staff supervise the operations of the Reading Room, and can assist with queries about reproduction, holds, and the physical use of the material.

Public areas

Control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes

Access points

Access Points

  • Clipboard

Primary contact

120 St. George St.
Toronto, Ontario
CA M5S 1A5