The Libraries and Archives of Toronto Canada

The Libraries and Archives of Toronto Canada

Archives Management is a growth area for Soutron. Over the past two years our new software development using ISAD (G) formats is meeting the needs of archivists as well as librarians. A combined single database system is winning us new friends and helping existing clients get more value from their investment in Soutron.

In the past week I have been visiting Canada, visiting clients, attending a User Group meeting in Toronto and enjoying some holiday time. While there I met with Maria Phipps who has worked with Soutron for many years on a variety of projects and consults with many archivists and libraries in Ontario.

Thomas Fisher Rare Book LibraryMaria took us on a walking tour of the many libraries and facilities of the University of Toronto. A highlight was visiting the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library which includes the University of Toronto Archives. It has collection strengths in the history of science and medicine but covers Canadian history, English and Italian literature, Judaica and European philosophy. As well as being used by researchers from all over the world, this amazing collection is also open to the public.

The space in which collections are managed is extensive and on display were artefacts including Chairman Mao’s publication, the Little Red Book explaining how simplified Chinese was used to extend access to these philosophical readings.

There is something here for everyone. It includes many editions of The Gardener’s Dictionary first published in April 1731 by Philip Miller, curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden for almost fifty years. This book was immensely popular at the time and was used by everyone who had an interest in gardening with many editions published in Dublin, Ireland.

City of Toronto Archives

City of Toronto Archives BuildingIn the afternoon we visited the City of Toronto Archives, housed in a purpose built building just outside the centre of the city but on the “hop on hop off bus tour route so it is very easy to find (although not mentioned by the bus company tour guide). Archive staff were preparing a display of archival photographs, video and artifacts, for an exhibition that paints a vivid picture of the lives of children in impoverished Toronto neighbourhoods.

We managed to get a sneak peek as well as a more detailed introduction to how the exhibition had come about from one of the curators. It was striking how collaboration amongst Universities in Toronto and the University of Brighton in the UK together with the City of Toronto Archives made this possible. I found the exhibition very moving.

There are lessons about how children were protected from the streets and found safe supervised play areas, lessons still applicable to today.

Royal Canadian Military Institute Library

RCMI LibraryWe ended our day by a visit to the newly opened Royal Canadian Military Institute Library on University Avenue.

The librarian, Penny Lipman, has done an amazing job in moving the library into this new building. It is stunning. They have combined a wonderfully welcoming and calm environment in which to study and contemplate military works with displays of uniforms, artefacts and human achievements that both amaze and inform.

Visiting such libraries and archives impresses the importance of learning from our past. Giving people the time to examine our history is of great importance equal if not more so than the constant striving for innovation and new scientific discovery.

A society than can do both is a rich society indeed and it makes me feel very fortunate to work in the field in which we can help shape access to the historical record.

Learn more about our very own Archive Management Solution or our Combined Library and Archive Solution today.


Graham Beastall – Senior Consultant and Managing Director. Graham’s background is in Accountancy, Public Administration and Organisational Theory with a deep technical understanding of databases and web technologies. More posts by Graham.
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