Toronto Public Library Guide

The first library service ever opened in the city of Toronto, dates on December 9, 1810, at Elmsley House building. During the Burning of York in 1813, several American officers looted books from the library, under commodore Isaac Chauncey's command. After the discovery of his officers’ possession in the stolen books, Chauncey ordered the looted books to be returned to York.

About Toronto Public Library

As a result, the stolen books were returned in 2 crates, but by the time books arrived, the library had already been closed, and the books were sold for auction in 1822.


A year after, in 1830, a library was re-established in the York Mechanics' Institute. In 1882, a free libraries act was passed by the provincial legislature.


In 1884, the collection of Mechanic's Institute became what is now known as the Toronto Public Library. The first chief librarian of TPL was James Bain, who supplemented the collection of books purchased for 15.000$, during a trip to England, in late 1883s.


Study Space 

The Toronto Public Library provides special rooms for study and group work. Visitors can get access to study rooms at any branch libraries since all branches are equipped with computers, wireless internet, and with some dedicated space for individual or group study.


Library Card 

To get the Toronto Public Library Card, visitors will need to visit any TPL library branch and present valid identification, current name, and postal address.

To be eligible to get a free TPL Library Card, you have to satisfy the following requirements:

With the TPL Library Card, members are allowed to borrow books, movies, music, and more other materials. Cardholders can place orders through the library’s website to reserve books and materials and to have them sent to the nearest branch for customers’ convenience.


Besides, with the Library Card, it is possible to download eBooks, movies, music, and digital magazines, get online homework help, access eLearning resources, use research databases, access newspaper, and magazine archives.


Cardholders can also reserve computers via their card at any branch, borrow a Museum & Arts Pass for free, get access to Toronto museums, and other various venues provided by the Toronto Public Library. The Card also offers free access to a number of cutting-edge technology and training courses at the Digital Innovation Hubs of TPL.


Borrowing Materials

Visitors of TPL can borrow 50 items at one time. The following items are borrowed for a limited period of use:

Most materials are returned to any TPL branch library. However, some items such as Book Club Sets, Interloan items, Musical Instruments, Toronto Reference Library picture collections, must be returned to the exact branch from which the item was borrowed.




Computers and Internet Access 

Computers, free internet access, Wi-Fi, and Microsoft Office software are provided at the Toronto Public Library. Visitors of the library are highly encouraged to book the service up to 3 days in advance.


Print and Photocopy

All TPL branches except Todmorden Room provide photocopying and print.



The Toronto Public Library provides two Bookmobile services and serves the areas that are not close to TPL library branches. Near the TPL branch library locations, you can find a bookmobile stops, only if the branch is closed for some reason and has an extended period of time.


The bookmobile carries a variety of items, all similar to what is provided in TPL library branches. Currently, TPL bookmobiles have 28 permanent stops. Bookmobile stops are scheduled during the morning, afternoon, and evening, available from Monday to Saturday, at different locations within the city of Toronto.


The TPL bookmobile customers must be aware of the fees that the service charges. Materials and different items borrowed from the bookmobile are subject to fines, and the fine is similar to all other material fines. Overdue materials both at bookmobile or at any TPL branch libraries, for Adult, is 0.35-14.00$; Adult Under 25 (age gap 18-24) is 0.15-6.00$; Teen (age gap 13-17) is 0.15-6.00%; Child (birth-12 yrs.) is 0.10-4.00$.

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