Thursday, February 06, 2014

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library Holdings of the University of Toronto's Rare Books and Special Collections

During my trip to the University of T oronto, I had the opportunity to visit the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library.  As the largest repository of publicly accessible rare books and manuscripts in Canada, the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections and the University Archives at UT campus, however, did not have a permanent home until 1973 when the Thomas Fisher Rare Book library was opened.

The library is also home to the university archives which, in addition to institutional records, also contains the papers of many important Canadian literary figures including Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen.
Among the collection's items are the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), Shakespeare's First Folio (1623), Newton's Principia (1687), and Darwin's proof copy (with annotations) of On the Origin of Species (1859). Other collections include Babylonian cuneiform tablet from Ur (1789 BC), 36 Egyptian papyrus manuscript fragments (245 BC), and Catholicon (1460).
I was very impressed with how the Fisher Library engages its patrons with ongoing exhibitions.  The current exhibition examines Canada during the Great War, 'We Will Do Our Share': The University of Toronto and the Great War, focuseing on how the University prepared for and carried out its duties during the war and on the impact of the war on the University’s faculty, staff, students, its physical plant, its academic and research programmes, and on student and other organizations.  Here are some highlights of the digital collections from the Library.  It's well worth a perusal on your own time - both physical and in digital!