Students and Professionals Delighted by ARLIS/NA & SLA ROM MEGA-TOUR

On a chilly day in mid-December, UofT iSchool students took a break from their studies, and library professionals stepped away from their desks to participate in the ROM MEGA-TOUR: AS BIG AS THE DINOSAURS! Hyperbole aside, 15 guests joined ARLIS/NA Ontario Chapter and Special Libraries Association UofT Chapter to go behind the scenes at the Royal Ontario Museum, visiting the institution’s fascinating libraries and archives.

Librarian Max Dionisio showing visitors a Japanese scroll

Beginning at the Bishop White Committee Library of Easts Asia, librarian Max Dionisio entranced tour guests with an array of scrolls, prints and delicate books.

Student listening to talk infront of library shelves

While guests could have stayed at the East Asian Library for hours, the tour had other equally interesting stops to make. At the Richard Wernham and Julia West Library, Archivist, Charlotte Chaffey delighted visitors with a glimpse into the ROM’s storied past with selections from the personal fonds and research of remarkable staff members.

Visitors listening to Archivist, Charlotee Chaffey, speak at Wernham West Library

Last but certainly not least, head librarian Brendan Edwards took us into the stacks. After examining some of the more special tomes of the collection, Brendan generously shared his experiences in the specialty librarianship field with the group and answered our myriad of questions.

Visitors listening to Librarian Ben Edwards speak at Wernham West Library

Emerging from the hallowed halls of the ROM hours later, many tour participants headed over to The Bedford Academy Gastropub. Over drinks and food, students and professionals alike shared their thoughts and ideas about all we had discovered during this exciting experience. Thanks to all who attended!

Special thanks to Charlotte Chaffey, Max Dionisio and Brendan Edwards for being such generous and remarkable hosts.

ARLIS-ON Fall Meeting and Visit to Daniels Spectrum

On Friday November 8 2019, members of the ARLIS/NA Ontario Chapter held the Fall Business Meeting at Centre of Social Innovation (CSI) at Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park.

In addition, the group learned about the Canada Comics Open Library from its founder Rotem Diamant and toured the space in CSI Regent Park.

ARLIS-ON tour of Canada Comic Open Library and booksCanada Comics Open Library (CCOL) is a non-profit and volunteer-run comics library located in Regent Park, Toronto, Ontario. CCOL was founded in the springtime of 2018. ARLIS-ON tour of Canada Comice Open Library, books and zines

The CCOL’s mission is to help make comics more accessible while increasing representation of marginalized communities in comics, with a focus on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour), LGBTQ+, disabled, and women creators.

The CCOL has  a rich library collection and space, online resources (incl. Canadian Cartoonists Database), and community events.

CCOL is a very new organization dependent by passionate volunteers and donations. It is currently holding a fundraising campaign to  keep their doors open and pay rent for a year, cover administrative costs for the year, and make CCOL collection circulating!

The last stop on the Daniel’s Spectrum tour was ArtHeart, an art program for all ages that really brings the community together.

ArtHeart – Community Art Centre Sign and Studio

The Art Heart Community Centre provides free visual arts education, programs, materials and a healthy snack to the children and youth, as well as a hot nutritious meal to adults and seniors living in Regent Park and the surrounding neighbourhoods.

We were so lucky to meet with Timothy Svirklys, ArtHeart’s Studio Manager. Tim has been a community arts practitioner with ArtHeart for over twenty years in a variety of roles.

There are various opportunities to volunteer and donate to ArtHeart’s initiatives. Learn more about their partnerships here:

If you are an art or museum librarian, be sure to check out these welcoming and creative spaces and consider joining the ARLIS/NA Ontario Chapter.

ARLIS N/A Ontario Student Group – AGO Library and Archive Tour

On a cold winter morning in February 2019, students from the University of Toronto and Ryerson University headed to the concourse level of the Art Gallery of Ontario and towards the Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives. After getting comfortable in the lounge right in front of the library doors, students were welcomed by Head Librarian, Amy Furness, Archivist, Marilyn Nazar and Head of Reader Services, Larry Pfaff.

photos of tour members in AGO Library & Archives

Before heading in to see the nuts and bolts of the space, Larry Pfaff offered an entertaining and insightful history of the library and its role in the Gallery’s day to day workings, as well as graciously answering all questions. Inside students were shown the still active card catalogue system, reading room, and the extensive stacks.

While not all attendees could join ARLIS Ontario UofT Student Chapter for lunch, many made the slog through the slush and snow across the street to the Village Idiot Pub were warm food was consumed and great conversations were had!

ARLIS UofT would like to extend its heartfelt to the AGO Library & Archives for its wonderful hospitality.

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Fall Meeting 2017 in Hamilton – Thanks!

Thanks to everyone who came out to Hamilton for our Fall 2017 Business Meeting – and a big thank you to HPL Librarian Tammy Morse, Archivist Tracey Krause, and the staff of the Hamilton Public Library for hosting!

Our meeting included a behind-the-scenes tour of the HPL’s Archives; lunch at Merit Brewing; and a stroll through shops and galleries on Hamilton’s James Street North. It was fascinating to see the HPL’s collections and spaces and hear about their upcoming project and opportunities. It was also great to see the exciting restaurants, shops and other spaces Hamilton has to offer!

Interior view of the Hamilton Public Library Central Branch
Getting an overview of the Archive’s holdings and projects from HPL Archivist Tracey Krause
Winding through the closed stacks
Browsing the HPL’s art collection
U of T Art Librarian, Margaret English, holding a sword used during the War of 1812

Spring Meeting 2017

Thanks to everyone who came out to our Spring Meeting this past June at Ryerson University. Our members and guests were treated to tours of Ryerson’s new Student Learning Centre, Archives & Special Collections, Collaboratory, and more!

A special thanks to Architecture Librarian, Sonny Banerjee, and Special Collections Librarian, Alison Skyrme, for hosting!

Spring 2009 meeting Report

Royal Ontario Museum

April 24, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

After a lengthy winter we were again blessed with lovely weather for our visit to the spectacular and recently-designed Royal Ontario Museum.

Attendance was high for this day, with a particularly large student contingency from the Faculty of Information, thanks to the efforts of our student representative Laine Gabel.  ARLIS/NA Canadian Representative Liv Valmestad  (University of Manitoba) was able to join us as well. It’s been a long time since the Chapter paid a visit to the ROM, and everyone was anxious to see the controversial landmark building.

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

Our hosts, Arthur Smith, Head, Main Library and Archives and Jack Howard, Librarian, H.H. Mu Far Eastern Library arranged a warm welcome for us – complete with coffee and breakfast nibbles.  We relocated to a new electronic classroom for our business meeting.  Geoff Piersol has done an amazing job on the Chapter website using WordPress and he continues to make improvements and design it so that there will be various levels of access and participation from other chapter members.  Suggestions for content and resources are always welcome.

The Chapter is starting to gear-up for the 2012 Annual ARLIS/NA Conference in Toronto and we are fortunate in having members with a great deal of experience in the planning and execution of past events.  For the upcoming Fall meeting, we will need members to sign up for general activities related to the conference.

ROM Painting Conservator Heidi Sobol gave a fascinating lecture on her efforts in the preservation of an important oil-on-canvas painting by Edward Taylor Dartnell titled Panoramic View of The City of Toronto, c1850.

Panoramic View of the City of Toronto, ca. 1850, by Edward Taylor Dartnell.
Heidi Sobol

Members then lunched at the Museum’s airy and bright Food Studio which sources organic seasonal ingredients from local Ontario food producers.

Arthur Smith gave a riveting talk about the Collection Development Policy of the Main Library and Archives and its role in supporting the information needs of the curators and documenting the Museum’s collection.  Some of the library’s treasures were brought out for us to view.

Viewing treasures from the Main Library, ROM

After the Library tour, we were armed with our vistors’ badges and released into the entire museum to browse whichever displays struck our fancy.   Many attendees stayed well past the allotted time.

Currelly Gallery, ROM

Fall 2008 Meeting Report

Toronto, Ontario
October 31, 2008

Picture a perfect late fall day. Early morning was cool. We gathered for our business meeting in the Department of Art Library at the U of T. We were fortified, of course, with coffee and fresh sticky buns courtesy of Vice Chair Margaret English’s favourite sticky bun bakery. At the meeting’s conclusion we went outside to find that the weather had turned quite balmy. It was ideal walking weather, and we enjoyed making our way to each destination. Margaret organized three tours for our Chapter members. She focused on the book as vehicle for art, as a craft form, as an artistic expression. It was refreshing to spend a day with analog – and downright traditional – materials.

Coach House Books
bp nicol Lane

Tucked in a lane behind Huron St., Coach House has been producing fine small edition books by Canadian authors and poets for decades. Our tour started in the attic, a space under the old coach house eaves crammed with pictures, books, ephemera accumulated over the history of the press and its employees. In the corner sits a venerable large purple-upholstered Magic Sleeping Chair purported to have the ability to put its occupant to sleep. None of us tried its powers!

Christina Palassio, Managing Editor, displayed recent publications and related anecdotes about the company’s history and its illustrious authors. She led us through the production areas of Coach House, showing the process of typesetting and printing, to folding and gluing the final publication.

Massey College
Robertson Davies Library

19th cent. hand press

Massey College owns a spectacular study collection that focuses on the art and history of the book form. Librarian Marie Korey led our group through a collection of impressive and wonderfully ornate 19th century iron hand presses accumulated by the library between 1953 and 1971. To complement the presses, cases of type were also collected from printing shops such as Cooper & Beatty, divesting their stock as newer methods of printing developed.

This is a collection for the purpose of research and teaching traditional methods of paper-making, typesetting, printing and book construction. Indeed, this resource gives a very good sense of how a printing shop might operate.

We enjoyed the chance to closely examine samples of 18th and 19th century printing. The library also collects manuscripts and manuals about printing and book publication, fine printing and production printing, part of the Ruari McLean collection.

Ondaatje Hall at Massey College
Librarian Marie Korey gives a tour of the study collection

On our exit from the College, Ms. Correy took us to the Ondaatje Hall, the dining hall for residents. A cautionary quote from George Santayana encircles the light-filled room.

“Happiness is impossible and even inconceivable to a mind without scope and without pause, a mind driven by craving, pleasure, and fear.” G. Santayana.

University of Toronto
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

It is an amazing experience to leave the street and enter the Fisher. One leaves the bright noisy St. George Street and enters a silent vaulted nave of the Library with five glowing galleries of books overhead.

We were met by the Fisher Library’s Director, Robert Landon who led us through a special exhibition of photographs and artifacts from the Fisher’s archive, on the subject of Canada and the First World War. The exhibition was fascinating for its variety of ephemera that portrayed the human realm of war: cookbooks, letters home, war posters, and popular novels about war heroes. The University of Toronto’s war effort was also described with photographs of a training camp of tents pitched in rows on Hart House Circle. Poignantly, trench-digging practice was part of the regimen for trainees on the grounds of the University.

Our sincere thanks go to those who took time to meet with us and show us these fascinating collections related to the art of fine publishing! Time spent as we meandered from site to site of each collection offered a terrific way to socialize with our colleagues in the Chapter, too.

Submitted by Lesley Bell, December 2008.

Spring 2008 Meeting Report

APRIL 2008
Spring Meeting   April 25, 2008
Ryerson Library, Ryerson University
Toronto, Ontario

The Librarians at Ryerson University welcomed us for a business meeting followed by special events that they graciously organized for us. After lunch we enjoyed presentations and tours that focused on current ambitions for the University as well as the features of Special Collections managed by the Library. It was a perspective on the University that was both wide and specialized: a great combination for a program.

Dr. George Kapelos, a professor in the School of Architectural Science, spoke passionately about the team he has worked with to devise a Master Plan for Ryerson University. The land-locked University has taken an honest appraisal of its place in Toronto and has created a vision for how it can proceed, how it can grow for its community of students and faculty and how it can function within the urban fabric.

Dr. Kapelos’ illustrated lecture touched on ideas that indicate that his visionary team, which includes KPMB Architects – is based on the human scale. As he says it, this vision ‘engages the public realm, a core for people’ and takes the University’s urban setting as an advantage, with its opportunities for commerce, social, transportation, housing, parks, entertainment and public places. As the University grows and transforms, the Master Plan can ensure that each change resonates with the whole.

Ryerson is buying up land as it becomes free in its intended plan for growth as well as following the lead of institutions like Concordia by constructing a vertically oriented campus. A prized acquisition is the former location of Sam the Record Man. This is the intended location for an expanded Ryerson Library. The iconic sign for the former retail business featuring double discs is designated and comes with the property. Envision a future Ryerson Library with the neon sign blaring, ‘This is Sam the Record Man!’ pulsing on the wall that faces Yonge Street. Dr. Kapelos hopes that details like this will inspire people to say, “If you’re visiting Toronto, make sure you see X [and] Y and don’t forget to go to Ryerson.”

After Dr. Kapelos’ lecture, Beth Knazook, the Photographic Curatorial Specialist for the Library’s Special Collections presented – visually – numerous highlights. Ryerson offers an M.A. in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management, which seems to be a timely course of study for a world desiring expertise for its aging photo collections.

Ms. Knazook described the evolution of her collections that includes the Kodak Canada Archives (est 2005) and the Heritage Camera Collection. This facility grew out of a practice of hands-on learning and traditional photography, and the Masters students of this new and innovative program carry this intent forward with explorations into experiential learning based on the collections.

Alana West, the Media Collections Assistant of the Mira Godard Study Centre, described the impetus for this resource center, which provides access to an incredible 250,000 slides. A faculty photo collection initiated in 1969 was significantly advanced with a gift of 57 historic photographs in 1995 by Mira Godard, for whom this centre is named. This collection is now comprised of 2224 objects, and continues to grow. It also houses artist files (comprised of clippings, videos, DVD’s and other ephemera) as well as other photo archives. Ms. West impressed on us the importance of viewing the original photograph. She is so right: we always view photos in reproduction.

Ultimately, a gallery on campus will house the the April 2005 donation of 291,049 black and white photographs from the Black Star Agency in New York. The Black Star Historical Black and White Photography Collection (that does include a few colour NASA photographs) is a significant resource for faculty and students in Ryerson’s School of Image Arts. From its roots in Europe during World War I to 1980’s photojournalist works, this collection holds great promise for Ryerson. While original works in the collection are stored offsite until optimum conditions for preservation are met by new construction at Ryerson, large-scale scans from the Black Star Collection are periodically exhibited in public settings. For example, gripping images that focus on people who have experienced World War I and II are currently displayed in the nave of BCE Place, Toronto until May 27th, 2008.

We would like to thank Librarians Barb Parsons, Zita Murphy and Susan Patrick for their teamwork in putting this day together for our Chapter!

February 2008 Mid-Winter Gathering

Mid-Winter Gathering & Fundraiser

Hosted by HOK Architects, 720 King Street West, Toronto
Wednesday February 27th, 2008


From the invite:
“This year’s gathering will feature a special presentation by the staff of HOK Architects on sustainable design and a tour of their fabulous new space including the design materials library. Learn more about HOK at or the event at

Food and fundraising are also on the agenda with some new and interesting prizes in store to help raise funds for the travel awards and other initiatives.

Although space is limited we are opening the event to non-members in the art, library and design community, those interested in environmentally responsible design as well as to colleagues who are considering membership in ARLIS/NA Ontario. The event is by invitation only and you must respond to your email invitation to be included on the list.”

Follow-up report:
Many thanks to HOK for hosting our fundraising gathering in their wonderful new space, for donating the wine, the invitations and providing the tour by Sandra Lester of their LEED Gold Accredited energy efficient offices. It was great to get a first hand look at a sustainable workplace that really worked on so many levels.

We were pleased to finally have an in depth look at the materials library. Daina’s extensive knowledge must surely make her an asset to your clients. Thanks to Darlyn, Jessica, Donald and Jeffrey and to all the staff who were extremely helpful from start to finish and made us feel so welcome.

Thanks to the bookstores and galleries for their generous donations of books and gift certificates and to all our members who contributed prizes including the beautifully handcrafted items, historic books, posters and prints.

  • David Mirvish Books
  • Art Metropole
  • Gallery 44
  • Meredith Ferguson from Curnoe Family
  • Margaret English
  • Tammy Moorse
  • Lesley Bell
  • Mary Williamson

To those of you who donated food to the potluck table – it was delicious. Thanks to FIS students, Laine and Meredith and Lesley and Margaret too for preparing and presenting the food with such flare! A special thanks to the committee members: Margaret, Tammy, Laine, Meredith and Lynda. Teamwork made it possible! Last but not least thanks to all our members, associates and invited guests for coming out on such a cold evening and making the auction a success. You helped us raise almost $1000.00 (after expenses).

We were in touch with a number of librarians, colleagues and library students from Ontario and Toronto and were pleased to welcome them to this annual gathering. Our membership committee will be keeping in touch and committee chair, Tammy Moorse will be looking for members to help in this endeavour.

Fall 2007 Meeting Report


Art and Books Featured at Fall Meeting

Thanks to all of you who travelled to McMaster University in  Hamilton for our fall meeting. A special thanks to vice-chair, Lesley Bell, who organized a full and enriching day of tours and talks. It’s always a little more daunting when the planning is not around your own institution.

As we gathered in the student centre enjoying the delicious scones and coffee, Margaret ran the 50/50 draw and Kalan, our student rep was on hand to show the display she recently designed for the student lunch at UofT FIS. Congratulations to Margaret who was the winner of the draw and good for us, as $60.00 was added to the chapter coffers.

We welcomed a few new members and a guest visitor, Donna Thomson, the Fine Art Librarian at McMaster. Thank you to Michele for passing along her name. Our Canadian Rep, Marilyn Nasserden also joined us from Calgary with the latest from ARLIS/NA including news about Canadian Representation on the board, French translation, and the possibility of a meeting of Canadian chapters in Quebec in August.

The 2008 executive was voted in and I would like to welcome Margaret English as the vice-chair and Tammy Moorse as treasurer. Randall Speller will continue as our secretary. Thank you all for stepping forward. A number of changes to committee structure were agreed to at the meeting. This should help share some of the tasks – “many hands make light work” so please lend a hand where you can.

Some issues required some background information and this was true for the discussions around the proposal for the Ontario chapter to host the 2012 Conference. The conference steering committee of Karen, Jill and Margaret emailed 2 documents to the membership previous to the meeting, allowing for informed discussion and the decision that an email vote would take place following the meeting. This should happen within the next few weeks.

Last but not least, Barb Duff of the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa informed us of the cancellation of the Exhibition Transportation Service by Canadian Heritage. She requested that we take action on this matter and since the meeting, Barb outlined the details of the issue and drafted of a letter that you have all received by email. Please make the letter your own and forward it to your MP. Thanks Barb for alerting us to this issue and helping us to perhaps make a difference.

Please take a look at the minutes for some of the decisions that were taken and upcoming activities being planned. If you have not received the minutes please contact

Behind-the-scenes Tour

Following lunch at the East West restaurant we made our way across the lovely campus to McMaster University Art Gallery for a behind the scenes tour including the Paper Centre where the art on paper is stored. There was much discussion as we viewed a display that included works by Schiele, Picasso and Matisse.

We moved to the main gallery space to view the group show titled Quantal Strife” and a photographic exhibition of moving works about Afghan journalists, writers, filmmakers, activists and photographers. The range of works within the 2 rooms was stunning. Overhearing a young student comment on a very early painting on display, it was apparent what an asset the gallery is to all students of the university.

On to the archives of the Mills Memorial Library, where medieval scholar Dr. Kathleen Garay, treated us to a gripping presentation printed books and manuscripts from the collection. It was a privilege to experience these books up close and personal with a teacher so profoundly knowledgeable and passionate about her subject matter.

The afternoon concluded with yet another truly impassioned talk by archivist and research collections Librarian, Dr. Carl Spadoni who assembled an array of materials from the Bertrand Russell Archive. The range of material was as broad and fascinating as the life of the man himself. What a treasure to behold.

Following the meeting we made our way to the east end of downtown Hamilton to conclude the day with dinner and conversation.

Plans for the “Mid-winter” fundraiser took shape and details will be made available soon. With a concerted effort we can plan a fun and interesting evening. Please consider lending your talents.

All the best to the members of the 2008 executive.

Janet Muise, Chair

ARLIS/NA Ontario Chapter