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One student, 45 libraries, one library guide

Submitted on Thursday, April 11, 2019
Hogwarts or Emmanuel College? Photo by Thomas Guignard Creative Commons license

From the day she arrived at U of T to pursue a Master of Museum Studies degree at the Faculty of Information, Laetitia Dandavino-Tardif was struck by the sheer number of libraries on the St. George campus. Because she likes to change up her study environment, Laetitia started visiting the different libraries. Eventually she made it her goal not just to try out all 45 libraries, but to rate them for her fellow students.

Among the attributes Laetitia took into account while seeking out the ideal study spot were laptop charging outlets, spaces that allowed food and drink, and libraries that were close to food and coffee shops.

The results of her two years of library tourism can now be found on the Library Explorer website she leaves behind as she prepares to graduate and return to her hometown of Montreal. The site includes photos as well as a map that shows all the downtown campus libraries at a glance.

Furthest north is the OISE Library, which Laetitia notes can be accessed directly from the St. George subway station without setting foot outside. The southernmost study spot is the recently renovated Dentistry Library, which is served by the St. Patrick subway stop.

Among the libraries receiving the highest possible, five-star ranking is Victoria University’s Emmanuel College Library, which, according to Laetitia, “makes you feel like Harry Potter at Hogwarts.” Its gothic chandeliers, wooden study nooks, and arched windows more than make up for the lack of electrical outlets and the fact that it’s not ideal for group work, she says.

At the opposite end of the architectural style spectrum is Victoria University’s E.J. Pratt Library, which was renovated in 2001 to become the library of the 21st century. Different types of study spaces are spread throughout the three-storey library. There is a “smart” classroom, an eating area in the basement, and the famous reading room complete with artwork on the walls. “I personally enjoy the couches on the 2nd floor that look down into the reading room,” says Laetitia.

Among the four-star libraries is the “underrated” Mathematical Sciences Library, which is “freshly renovated, has a bright atmosphere, offers various study spots, and has many tables along the windows,” says Laetitia.

The small Industrial Relations and Human Resources Library, located in an historic house,  offers vintage decor complete with fireplace, armchairs, large working tables and study carrels. The D.G. Ivey Library at New College has Norval Morrisseau artwork on display, lots of light and views on to an indoor garden.

And, finally, the Milt Harris Library at the Rotman School of Management not only has two good cafés sharing the building in which it’s housed, it also has its own rooftop patio, open in warmer weather and offering great views of downtown. The downside: it’s not always easy to get a patio table and the wifi on the roof can be weak.

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