Reading Room Procedures

On this page: Overview | Before You Visit | When You Visit | Retrievals

The UTARMS Reading Room is open Tuesday to Friday, 9am-4:45pm. The Reading Room is closed on Mondays.

Please note: The Reading Room will be closed August 19-30.

Researchers are welcome to visit us to begin their research anytime the Reading Room is open, or they can begin with an inquiry by accessing our services virtually or via telephone;

Staff can help determine if materials need to be pulled in advance of your visit as some material is held offsite. We may be limited in our ability to retrieve additional items the day of your visit.

Before You Visit

We have a new registration and request system: Special Collections Access!

If you are comfortable locating material in our descriptive database Discover Archives or already know the UTARMS accession/box/item locator information you would like to consult, you can save time by registering through the UTL’s Special Collections Access system. Once you’ve registered, you may make a request to access material within our collections.

A Special Collections Access account will help you:

  • Request collection material in advance of your visit
  • Make an appointment in our Reading Room (optional)
  • Track the status of your requests

If this is your first time making a request at UTARMS, or you would like reference support, we highly recommend contacting us for reference assistance. Archives’ staff will help to ensure you are requesting material relevant to your research, the material is open (not subject to any restrictions) and ensure the material you would like to access is held on-site and is available.

When You Visit

UTARMS is dedicated to making the research experience as rewarding and productive as possible for all researchers. We ask you to cooperate with us to preserve the Archives’ collections for posterity by observing the following protocols:

  1. Researchers are required to register prior to accessing our collections. Upon your first visit, please be prepared to present valid identification (i.e. TCard, driver's license, or passport) to verify the credentials you submitted as part of the online registration process.
  2. Please leave all outer wear, bags, binders, and folders in the lockers at the second floor entrance. You will be provided with a key to the locker; lockers must be emptied at the end of each day.
  3. Clear plastic bags are available to carry items such as proof of identity, laptops, tablets, and writing materials into the Reading Room; personal effects taken into the Reading Room, including notebooks and binders, will be inspected as researchers exit the Library.
  4. Food and beverages are not permitted anywhere in the Reading Room.

During ongoing construction in Spring 2024, access to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library may be affected by rotating closures to the entrances located at the top of stairs on the corner of St. George & Harbord Streets. Please follow the signage outside of the building to enter the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Alternatively, researchers can enter the Fisher Library through the Robarts Library/Accessible entrance, situated at 130 St. George Street at street level. If you are having trouble finding us, please call the Reading Room at 416-978-5344.


Stairs from St. George Street to the Fisher Library external door
Stairs from Harbord Street to the Fisher Library external door
Stairs from Harbord Street to the Fisher Library external door
Aerial view showing entrances to Robarts Library and the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
Aerial view showing entrances to Robarts Library and the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Robarts Library / Accessible entrance (no stairs):

  • Enter Robarts Library from the street-level St. George Street entrance and scan T-Card at the screening checkpoint (U of T students, staff and faculty), or inform staff that you have an appointment at the Archives (external/non-UofT Researchers).
  • Keep right, and continue straight pass the Information Commons computers and then take the escalators or elevators to get to the 2nd floor.
  • From the elevators: exit the elevator, go through the gates and turn left towards the other set of gates. Once through the second set of gates, turn right and proceed towards the Fisher Library. To the right of the steps, there is a ramp.
  • From the escalators: proceed through the gates, turn right, and proceed towards the Fisher Library. To the right of the steps, there is a ramp.
  • Please let us know if you would prefer to have a UTARMS staff member meet you at the street-level entrance of Robarts Library and accompany you to the Fisher Library.
Fisher Entrance
Fisher Library entrance from inside of Robarts Library (2nd floor)
Robarts Ramp
Ramp next to steps on the 2nd floor of Robarts Library


Records are non-circulating and must be consulted in our reading room.  An attendant is always on duty to assist you in finding sources and requesting materials. Retrievals are on demand and the last retrieval is at 4:15 p.m.  Some records are stored off-site and may take 1-2 days to retrieve. Listening to sound recordings or viewing film or video requires specialized equipment.  An appointment may be needed to consult these records.

Visiting the Reading Room does not require an appointment. However, researchers are encouraged to contact us prior to their visit. This allows staff to evaluate each researcher’s needs and ensure that the requested material is available for when the researcher arrives.