Canadian Libraries

1. What does a Canadian library look like?
Canadian libraries are often located in separate, specially constructed buildings or spaces in large public or commercial centers. The library entrance is free. To use a library without borrowing books, you don't need a library card, just visit the library and read books inside! There is no place to check your belongings in libraries, so make sure to take all your stuff with you and take care of their safety. Typically, libraries have air-conditioning and toilets, where there are usually instructions posted on how to properly wash hands. All books have special stickers against theft. In large libraries there are security guards and at the entrance, there are alarm gates, so you cannot take out unregistered books. The main language of books in libraries is English. However, many libraries have sections of literature in other languages.

2. How do Canadian libraries work?
Take proof of identification confirming your status and a document with your address, such as the phone bill, and go to the local library, where you will be given a library card. Your card is valid at all city libraries, their addresses, phone numbers and locations you will find in a small booklet, which you can take for free in any library. This booklet contains hours and days of operation of libraries, for weekdays and weekends and which libraries operate in the summer.
Usually books in the library are on the open shelves. All books have codes which are also located on the shelves according to the decimal classification. If the book was published in Canada, the book's spine has a sticker with a red maple leaf. There is a section for large print books. To take books home you have to register them with the librarian or you can do it by yourself using a special display. Book can be held at home for three weeks, then, if nobody is waiting for this book, it may be extended twice in person at the library, by phone or on the library web site. Two days before the due date, you will receive e-mail reminder that it is time to renew or return a book.
The library system works in such a way that you can borrow books in one library and return them to another. Many libraries work Sundays (except summer months), but on reduced hours. There are services for people with special needs. If you live far from a library, you can use bookmobiles. Some libraries even will bring books to you at the hospital. You can learn more about libraries rules on the library’s website. In Toronto, the address is

3. How can I find the right book?
The best and the shortest way to find a book is to ask a librarian. Library staff are generally very friendly and will be happy to help you to find the requested item. If a book you need is available in this library, the librarian will direct you to appropriate floor and give you number, which will help you find a book. In the case that you have trouble finding a book, often the librarian will bring you to the place where the book is held. If the book you require is not currently available, then the librarian can order this book for you with delivery to the library closest to your residence. To order a book you need to have a library card.

4. What fines are given by libraries?
Fines are given for violating library rules. Renewing your items and returning them on time are the most effective ways to avoid fines. If you have overdue adult books, in Toronto you will pay a fine of $0.40 per day per item to a maximum of $16.00 for each loan period. If something is overdue by more than 40 days, the library considers it lost. You'll have to pay the purchase price of the item. Keep your receipt! If you find the item within 6 months of paying the replacement cost you can get a refund, minus any overdue fines. Another reason you can pay a fine is not picking up a hold or interlibrary loan. There is a $1.00 fine for each book you do not check out or cancel by the pickup date. Staff keep a lists of items marked returned and search for them regularly. If this book is not checked in or out within 90 days, it's marked lost, and a replacement charge will be added to your account. If you don't pay the fine, your account will be blocked and you will be prevented from accessing some of the library's services. To unblock your account, you need to return any overdue materials and pay any outstanding fines. Source:

5. What is the largest library in Toronto?
There are 100 public libraries in Toronto and the largest library is the Toronto Reference Library (TRL). It has more then 1.5 million catalogued books, 2.5 million other materials (films, tapes, microforms, maps, etc.), more then 255 computers available free for visitors and more than 1,500 seats. The library's collection is mostly non-circulating, although some materials can be borrowed if you have a library card. The TRL is located in a five floor building at 789 Yonge Street. Most of the books are on the open shelves, but some books should be ordered in advance. On the first floor there is an information centre for newcomers, a computer centre, a meeting room, library displays and Balzac's Café. The library hosts large exhibitions and festivals.
There is a room for writers, where Toronto Writers' Co-operative group meet each Sunday at 2 p.m. Also there is wireless Internet and big collections of books in other languages then English and French. If you like stories about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson’s adventures, visit a special room, where there are many collected books about the famous detective in many languages.

6. How can I use the online library catalogue?
Are you familiar with how to use the library’s online electronic catalogue? If so, you can search for books by yourself. The Toronto library’s online catalogue can be found on the website, which covers all city libraries. After you register your own account, your account will track information about all books and other items you take home. By using the catalogue online at the library or home you can find and order any book. If the ordered book is ready, you will be advised right away by e-mail to come to the library, which you indicated when ordering, and you will find this book on a shelf called "Holds". Using the library website, you can also check how much and what kind of books are linked to your account and, if necessary, extend them. The library catalogue online also allow you to search for movies, CD, e-books, etc.

7. What do library offer other than books?
Many libraries offer many more services than books. You can pick up from the library a free regularly published booklet called "What's On", which describes in detail the programs and services of the Toronto libraries. They regularly provide meetings, lectures and seminars and there are book clubs where known writers talk about their work. Many libraries sell books and assist visitors in getting free tickets for exhibitions and museums. Some libraries have separated rooms, where you can work and hold a meeting with someone. Others have theatre halls where you can see concerts and performances. If you need advice how to collect library materials for your research or work, book a free 30-60 minutes appointment with a librarian. In Toronto, you can book such a meeting in person, by phone at 416-393-7131 or send your question via e-mail. Skilled researchers will find the information you need and when you need it, also there is an IntelliSearch option, which provides fee-based custom research with a 24-48 hour turnaround. Source:

8. What do libraries offer for newcomers?
Libraries are a good source of information for new immigrants. You can get books and pamphlets there designed to help immigrants and you can attend lectures and seminars for newcomers, where you talk about how quickly and successfully you are adapting to the new country. If you are learning English, you will find grammar books, manuals on reading and writing, books on how to write business letters, how to prepare for IELTS and TOEFL exams, and more. In addition to books, there are cabinets with devices for listening and viewing educational materials. The librarian will explain to you the rules of using this equipment.
There is a department of literature in different languages and after visiting the site you will find a list of libraries which have books in 68 languages. You can use computers and the Internet for free, take home interesting books and movies, listen to lectures on Canadian art and literature, take part in special programs for newcomers, make new friends and just relax, read newspapers and magazines, play chess or watch TV. Ask the librarian about books and services for newcomers in your local library. Get acquainted with Canadian libraries, and they will become for you a necessary part of your new life.