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Back to School: U of T library system ranked in top three with Harvard and Yale

University of Toronto ranked as one of the top three library systems in North America

Members of the community tour the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library at U of T during Doors Open (photo by Dominic Ali)

Students entering the University of Toronto this fall have access to the top-ranked library system in Canada, according to the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

The ARL recently ranked the U of T library system one of the top three in North America, after Harvard and Yale. The only Canadian university in the top 10, U of T has placed among the ARL’s top five research libraries since 2002-2003.

“We are very proud to again be ranked in the prestigious company of Harvard and Yale,” said Chief Librarian Larry P. Alford. “This ranking reflects the investment made by the University in the libraries to provide access to outstanding electronic and print collections and to enable expert staff and librarians to support the learning and research needs of our faculty and students with leading-edge information services and technology.”

The U of T library system comprises 44 individual libraries that hold more than 12 million volumes in 341 languages, millions of electronic resources in various forms and almost 30,000 linear metres of archival material. More than 150,000 new print volumes are acquired each year and its data centre houses more than 200 servers with a storage capacity of 1.5 petabytes. 

To help first-year students navigate the largest research collection in Canada and the third-largest academic library in North America, U of T developed a personal librarian program. 

The program, which matches students with a librarian who provides customized support throughout the year, began as a pilot effort in the 2012/2013 academic year when 1,000 students were invited to participate. It grew to serve 2,300 students in 2013/2014 and will now be offered to all 7,800 first-year Faculty of Arts & Science students.

One of the top priorities this year, Alford said, is to complete fundraising and begin building a state-of-the-art addition to Robarts Library. 

“The Robarts Common will be a vibrant information hub,” said Alford. “It will be equipped with the new kinds of tools and services required to prepare the next generation of scholars to excel in the global knowledge economy.” 

Cheryl Regehr, vice-president and provost at the University of Toronto, said the U of T community takes pride in the strength of its library system,

"We thank and congratulate all our librarians and library staff across the three campuses for sustaining such an important resource to our teaching and research."