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SLA 2005: University of Toronto Libraries

I visited three of the University of Toronto (UofT) libraries after the annual conference.

I signed up for a tour of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (see photo) along with Brenda Martin and Rebecca Vargha, SLA's president-elect. (Alan Harnum, whom I had met earlier, was also there, but only because he volunteered to give Vargha a guided tour of his alma mater.) Among the most impressive items we were shown were the small "book" (read: rock) with hieroglyphics, examples of incunabula and illuminated books, and the anatomically-correct medical books that had flaps to show what was inside. For an example of the last one, click here. Do click on the option to view the interactive image to see what a real digital library should be like.

The Faculty of Information Studies is home to the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, among other programs. (Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian, is best known for "The Medium is the Message.") The Inforum is a library and computer laboratory. But it is more than just a library with computers. Its transformation from library to Inforum began in 1997. By the way, it was there that I met Irene Cruz, and staff member.

The Robarts Library is UofT's main library. It's huge, with at least five floors, with enough escalators and elevators for a small mall. The first floor I went to was devoted to computers. The catalog was not limited to items in the library's physical collection, but brought users even to digital collections of other universities to which the library had access. Both the Fisher Library and the Inforum are located in buildings right next to the Robarts Library.


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