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Rare books: Thomas Fisher Library has Canada’s largest collection

April 15, 2016 News No Comments

‘The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library feels like a shrine for the written word. But John Shoesmith dismisses the idea.“It’s not just here as a shrine. [The books] don’t come here to die,” said the outreach librarian. “It’s a working library.” The Fisher, as it’s commonly called, is the largest rare book library in Canada and it’s open to the public. Situated within Robarts Library at the University of Toronto, over 700,000 volumes are available to anyone with a library card  … Heavily annotated books belonging to famous Canadian communication theorist Marshall McLuhan and musician Leonard Cohen’s personal notebooks are just some of the books that are made rare by their association. A common misconception is that an old book makes a book rare. And while the Fisher does have material even from before the time of Christ, he says modern books aren’t out of the norm. “We would have books that would’ve been published last week, because we do collect modern Canadian fiction,” said Shoesmith. “We collect as many modern Canadian imprints as we can.” Some modern Canadian manuscripts exclusive to the Fisher are the handwritten first drafts of Margaret Atwood’s novels The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye.’ You can read more here.

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