Robarts Library is the main humanities and social sciences library of the University of Toronto. Opened in 1973, it is currently the largest book repository in Canada with 9.6 million items. Robarts Library is the heart of the University of Toronto library system, which is the third largest academic library system in North America, after that of Harvard and Yale. As of April, 2005, the library system as a whole held 10.3 million bookform items, 5.3 million microform items, and 1.8 million other items in its collections. Of these, 4.8 million bookform items, 4.1 million microform items, and 740 thousand other items were housed in Robarts Library.
On February 28, 2008, the Toronto Star and the University of Toronto announced that Robarts would be receiving a significant upgrade. The plans include 2,752 new study spaces and a new outdoor amphitheatre-like area. Some of the concrete walls will be replaced with glass to allow sunlight into the stacks on the 9th-13th floors. No completion date was included in the articles.
The library is named after former Ontario Premier John Robarts. The library has also acquired many informal nicknames including The Barts, Robes, Fort Barts, Fort Book, Jail, the Bunker, Hotel Robarts, Robots, the Toilet, the Death Star, Rofarts, the Turkey and the Brutalist Bird. Some of these names refer to its blocky shape which renders a rather stoic appearance.
Its design was conceived in the 1960s by Toronto architects Mathers and Haldenby, in collaboration with the New York architecture firm Warner Burns Toan & Lunde, who specialized in precast concrete buildings. Construction of the 14-story library was completed in 1973. The structure boundary forms an equilateral triangle. Each side of the triangle is long or the length of a Canadian football field. It can accommodate 4,000 persons at any given time.
Robarts Library is home to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, which contains a priceless collection of manuscripts and first editions.
In addition to a rich collection of texts, "Robarts" (as the University of Toronto community calls it) contains several other useful services for students. 24-hour quiet reading rooms are open when the university is in session, with the exception of weekends. As well, the Information Commons, a large bank of computers connected to the Internet on the first floor, allows all University of Toronto students access to computers, printers, scanners, and audiovisual equipment. Additionally, the university's Accessibility Services and its computer lab site are located in this floor.
A book-scanning centre on the seventh floor is the University's contribution to the Internet Archive's text digitization project.
The library was also shown in an episode of Sliders, called "El Sid." It is shown briefly as a still visual after a commercial break, in an episode where the story takes place in an alternate San Francisco that has become a giant prison.
It was also seen during a slide transition during the season finale of The Amazing Race 8: Family Edition. The Bransen Family were running past it after finishing a Detour (a game task) at the nearby Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.
Most interestingly, it is thought to be the model for the secret library in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Eco spent much of the time writing the novel at the University of Toronto, and the stairwell of the secret library bears a particularly strong resemblance to that in Robarts.
BOSTON'S BIOTECH MOMENT THE FUTURE IS MOVING OUT OF DUSTY LIBRARY STACKS AND INTO PRISTINE LABORATORIES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE CHARLES RIVER, MAKING THIS AREA THE NATIONAL LEADER IN BIOTECHNOLOGY. THE BOOM IS DRIVEN BY A NEW BREED OF INTELLECTUAL WEARING A WHITE LAB COAT AND USING SCIENCE TO BREACH THE BARRIER BETWEEN ACADEMIA AND COMMERCE.
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Myriad of Web sites makes digging into your family roots easier, faster, cheaper and more efficient than combing through library stacks worldwide.
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