Carlyn Wanner

Carlyn Wanner

Published: 17 Sep 2023


The Robarts Library, located at the University of Toronto, is not just an ordinary library. It is a cultural landmark that has captured the attention and admiration of visitors from around the world. With its iconic Brutalist architecture and vast collection of books, the Robarts Library stands as a symbol of knowledge and academic excellence.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the fascinating world of the Robarts Library, uncovering eight extraordinary facts that make this institution truly unique. From its impressive size and innovative design to its hidden treasures and historical significance, the Robarts Library has plenty of surprises in store for those who venture inside.

Table of Contents

The Robarts Library is the largest academic library in Canada.

Located at the University of Toronto, the Robarts Library stands as an architectural masterpiece, spanning 14 floors and holding over 4 million books. Its iconic brutalist design, with its towering concrete façade and signature peacock-like shape, makes it a notable landmark in the heart of the city. The library serves as a hub for students, researchers, and scholars, providing them with a vast collection of resources for academic pursuits.

The library is named after former Premier of Ontario, John Robarts.

John Robarts, who served as the Premier of Ontario from 1961 to 1971, was a passionate advocate for education and played a vital role in expanding the University of Toronto’s academic facilities. The library was named in his honor as a tribute to his contribution to the growth and development of the university.

It is home to numerous rare and special collections.

The Robarts Library boasts an extensive collection of rare and valuable materials, including ancient manuscripts, historical maps, and unique archives. These collections attract researchers from around the world, offering them a wealth of knowledge and insight into various academic disciplines.

The library has an underground extension.

In addition to its impressive above-ground structure, the Robarts Library features an expansive underground extension known as “Robarts Common.” This modern addition offers additional study spaces, collaborative areas, and state-of-the-art technology to enhance the learning experience for students and scholars.

It houses a collection of over 30,000 international government documents.

The Robarts Library is a significant resource for government publications from around the world. With its extensive collection of international government documents, it provides valuable information on a wide range of topics, including politics, economics, and social issues.

The library’s stacks are known for their unique naming system.

One intriguing aspect of the Robarts Library is its unconventional stack naming system. Each floor of the library is assigned a different color, represented by a letter of the alphabet. The books are shelved according to the color-letter combination, creating a visually striking and organized arrangement.

It offers stunning views of the Toronto skyline.

With its towering height, the Robarts Library provides visitors with breathtaking panoramic views of the Toronto skyline. The upper floors of the library offer a peaceful and inspiring environment for studying while enjoying the cityscape.

The library has been featured in films and TV shows.

The Robarts Library’s unique architecture and striking appearance have made it a popular filming location. It has been featured in various films and TV shows, adding to its cultural significance beyond its role as an academic institution.


The Robarts Library is a truly remarkable landmark that holds a wealth of fascinating history and extraordinary features. From its striking architecture to its extensive collections, there is no shortage of things to discover in this iconic library. Whether you are a student, a book lover, or simply a visitor looking to explore Toronto’s cultural gems, a visit to the Robarts Library is a must. Immerse yourself in its grandeur, lose yourself in its vast collection, and walk away with a newfound appreciation for the importance of libraries in our society.


1. Is the Robarts Library open to the public?

Yes, the Robarts Library is open to the general public. However, some areas of the library may be restricted to students and faculty members.

2. Can I borrow books from the Robarts Library?

Yes, borrowing privileges are available to students, faculty, and staff of the University of Toronto. Non-affiliated individuals can also access materials through interlibrary loan services.

3. Are there any guided tours available?

Yes, the Robarts Library offers guided tours at designated times. Check their website or contact the library for more information.

4. Are there any special collections or rare books housed in the library?

Yes, the Robarts Library is home to several special collections and rare books, including the Fisher Rare Book Library, which contains over 700,000 volumes of rare books and manuscripts.

5. Can I access digital resources and databases from the library’s website?

Yes, the Robarts Library provides access to a wide range of digital resources and databases. These resources are available to students, faculty, and staff of the University of Toronto.