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Robarts Library carrel services

Access to carrels has resumed for 2021/2022.

Eligibility  |  About applying for a carrel  |  Borrowing card  |  Priority groupsCarrel Office  |  Other libraries  |  FAQs

For locker applications, email instead of using the carrel application form on this page.


Eligibilityimage of stacks with a bit of a carrel door showing, and then a full carrel door


About applying for a carrel

New applications

  • In the best interest of the University's research community, apply for a carrel only if you have serious need of one, and plan to use it frequently, since demand exceeds supply
  • Application window: Submit your application between May 1 – August 31 for the academic year beginning in September
  • Carrel-sharing: Those who wish to share a carrel must apply separately, each indicating the other's name in the field provided in the application form 
  • Fob and borrowing card: Successful applicants will be emailed about picking up their key fob and carrel borrowing card

New applicant selection process

  • New applicants are grouped into priority categories and the information is randomized by computer
  • This process determines the wait list from which vacancies are filled
  • Vacancies are filled as they become available throughout the fall and winter terms
  • Vacancies tend to occur in late summer and early fall, so most new carrel assignments are made in early fall
  • This time is when applicants' enrolment status is updated by their registrar – a criterion for qualifying for a carrel

Timing of applications

  • Application window: Submit your application using the form below between May 1 – August 31 for the academic year beginning in September
  • Applications received after August 31: These will be considered after the preceding batch of applications
  • Outstanding applications: Carrel applications which could not be assigned by April 30 of the current year are discarded in order to clear the waitlist, since there are not enough carrels to meet the demand
  • Reapplications: If you were not successful in getting a carrel, you may reapply in the following May 1 – August 31 period

Renewal applications

  • In the best interest of the University's research community, renew your carrel only if you have serious need of one, and plan to use it frequently, since demand exceeds  supply
  • See the Apply section to submit your renewal application
  • Application window: Submit your application between May 1 – August 31 for the academic year beginning in September
  • * Fill out the CARREL field with the number of your current carrel – this is what distinguishes renewal applicants from new applicants *
  • You will be notified of your application's success early in the fall term


Carrel borrowing card privileges

  • When you are assigned a carrel in Robarts, you will be issued a carrel borrowing card.
  • Use it to check out books to your carrel for in-library use only
  • These books must remain in your carrel at all times
  • They are automatically renewed indefinitely, and remain sensitized to the Library's exit gates
  • This card does not allow making requests (holds) on items – use your TCard to make requests

When other library users request books signed out to your carrel borrowing card

  • Library staff will retrieve them from your carrel and leave a notification in their place
  • To avoid this situation: Borrow the items on your TCard instead of using your Carrel Borrowing Card
  • Other library users may still request them, in which case the items will be recalled from you
  • When an item is recalled, you receive an email notification, and have 14 days in which to return it, or face $ 2.00/day fines

To see what is checked out on this card

  • Sign in to our search system – LibrarySearch – using the barcode and password supplied by the Carrel Office – to review your checked out list


Priority groups for carrel assignments

The purpose of lockable carrels is to provide doctoral candidates in Divisions I – Humanities; and Division II – Social Sciences – especially those preparing their dissertations – with private, quiet working space. Other groups considered for carrel assignment are: faculty members on research/sabbatical leave, or working on special projects; post-doctoral fellows affiliated with the University; and, visiting scholars. 

Carrels are assigned according to the following priorities, which are established in conjunction with the School of Graduate Studies:

  1. Doctoral students – Divisions I & II:
    Those in their 3rd year of candidacy and beyond.  Applicants in Priority A1 will be permitted to hold a carrel for a total of three years, not necessarily consecutive. Carrels will be assigned for a full year, or portion thereof, according to the term(s) requested by the applicant.
    Faculty members – Divisions I & II:
    Those on leave or without office space on the St. George Campus.
    Post-doctoral fellows – Divisions I & II:
    Those affiliated with the University.
  2. Faculty members, including emeriti – Divisions I & II: 
    Those requiring library space for special projects.
    Visiting scholars:
    Those accredited by SGS Divisions I and II
    Doctoral students – Divisions I & II:
    Those in their second year of candidacy
  3. Other doctoral students – Divisions I & II
  4. Full-time master's students – Divisions I & II
  5. Toronto School of Theology (TST) doctoral students
    Fifteen carrels are available for TST PhD students. These carrels are assigned according to a TST recommendation. TST students must apply through their registrar instead of using the form below.


Carrel Office hours & location

Robarts Library – 130 St. George Street, Room 1008
Telephone: 416-978-2305

In-person service

  • Begins Monday September 20, 2021
  • Monday – Thursday 4:30 – 6:30 pm
  • Friday – Saturday: CLOSED
  • Sunday: 12 – 5 pm


Apply for carrel  |  Renew a carrel

Use the icon below to either apply for a carrel or renew your carrel.

Apply for a carrel


Carrels in other libraries

Please DO NOT use the above icon to apply for carrels in other libraries.

Visit the web pages below to learn how to apply for carrels in these other libraries.

  • Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library – See Carrel Information page
  • Gerstein Science Information Centre – See Carrel Information page
  • Kelly Library, St. Michael's College Library – See Graduate carrel policies


More information

See our carrel FAQs

– Updated September 14, 2021