Robarts Library Carrel Services FAQs

What are carrels?

Carrels are private, lockable study rooms on the stack floors (9-13) around the peripheries of the building. Researchers, who need to be close to library resources, or those who need a quiet work space, may request a carrel for personal use. Books may be signed out to the carrel with a separate borrowing card. PCs and laptop computers may be used on the campus wireless network in all carrels and some carrels on each stack floor have connectivity to the University backbone.

Who is eligible for a closed carrel?

Closed carrels are available to researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences Divisions of the School of Graduate Studies. Often, there is a shortage of quiet work space for researchers at the University, especially close to library resources. Therefore, those who find that they are not utilizing this space, regularly, are encouraged to relinquish it to those of the community who are in greater need. The Library and SGS wish to allocate this precious study space as equitably as possible to those with the greatest needs. According to priorities established by the School of Graduate Studies, those eligible include graduate students, faculty members and visiting scholars and post-doctoral fellows, graduate students in the third year of their PhD and beyond have first priority. Currently, SGS has a three-year limit on carrel use for those in Priority 1 (third year and beyond), but this time need not be used consecutively. Those in lower years of the PhD may also apply without using their three-year allotment. The three-year limit is activated only when you reach Priority 1. A summary of assignment policies established by SGS is available on the Library’s carrel services webpage.

What are book lockers?

Book lockers are small lockers on some of the stack floors (9-13) where researchers my leave personal materials and books charged to their lockers for in-library use. They provide an alternative to those without carrels for assigned work-space in the library. Book lockers are available to applicants in all of the priorities covered by the policies.

How do I apply for a carrel?

Simply complete the carrel application form online or stop by the Carrel Office for assistance in completing the form. New applications are accepted all year round and carrels and lockers may be allocated or names added to the waiting list at any time. No matter when you apply for a carrel, everyone must renew annually between May and the end of August, because all carrel assignments expire by September 1st. Most carrels are assigned or re-assigned at the beginning of the fall session.

How do I find out about my new assignment?

Carrels are assigned to new applicants as soon as possible in September. You will be contacted by the Carrel Office, either by phone or in writing, to come in and claim the carrel. You may also visit the Carrel Office, after mid-September, to inquire about your position on the waiting list, which is generated by lottery.

Do I have to pay for my carrel?

There is a refundable key-deposit of $50 for a carrel or a locker.

Why do I have to renew my carrel every year?

As stated above, current holders of carrels and lockers must renew their allocation once a year in the fall. Yearly renewal is part of the process of monitoring carrel use. Upon renewal, a written confirmation delivered to the carrel or locker. If the carrel is not renewed, then it must be cleared out and the key and borrowing card returned by the end of the summer session.

What can I and can’t I do in my carrel?

The carrel is restricted to quiet, research-related work; you may not eat or talk. You may not use your carrel as an office. You may decorate your carrel to make it your own, but do not block the window of the door as this interferes with staff monitoring and is a safety hazard in case of an emergency or building evacuation. You will be assigned a card with your name and carrel number, which you are to display in the window of the carrel. If you do not display the card, the carrel may be considered vacant. The regulations regarding carrel use will be issued when you take possession of the carrel. Although the Library expects you, as a concerned user, to follow these regulations carrels and lockers are monitored regularly by Library staff. Severe violations will result in loss of carrel privileges.

How do I apply for a locker?

Applications for lockers are made using the same web-page as for carrels.

When is it open and where is the Carrel Office?

Carrels in Other Libraries

For information about, and how to apply for a carrel in a library other than the Robarts Library, e.g. OISE/UT, Gerstein Science Information Centre, St. Michael's College Library, please contact these libraries directly, see the list of U of T Libraries.