About the library
The Fisher Library houses the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. It holds approximately 700,000 volumes and 3,500 linear metres of manuscripts. See the Fisher website for more information on the scope and content of the collections.
The great strengths of the Fisher lie in the fields of British, European and Canadian literature, philosophy, the history of science and medicine, Canadiana, Hebraica and Judaica, and the history and art of the book. The holdings of books and other printed material are organized in over one hundred special author or subject collections, focussing on fields as diverse as AIDS, Aristotle, Birdsall Bindings, Darwin, Aldous Huxley, Incunabula, Libretti, Petlice, Printed Ephemera and the Spanish Civil War. The majority of the Fisher's holdings are available in the Library Catalogue. Finding aids to manuscript holdings are available online.
How to access
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 licence, hospital card, etc.) will be requested.
The Fisher's material, apart from the reference collection which is available on open shelves in the Reading Room and reference area, is comprised of non-circulating, closed-stack collections, which means that the material needed will always be available for use. Most of the material in the Fisher Library is housed onsite - the only exception is some modern Canadian literature, which can be requested and retrieved within 48 hours for use in the Fisher reading room. Readers may submit retrieval requests in person at the Library, or in advance by using our online Reading Room Request Form. You can also request directly from the catalogue - click here for detailed instructions. Some manuscript material is restricted at the request of the writer or donor.