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General Information and Access

Textual canons: books at the centre, and the periphery
An illustration for the chapter “De auctoribus eorundem librorum"
in Rabanus Maurus,
De rerum naturis.
Montecassino, MS 132, p. 349 (detail)
© Archivio dell’Abbazia, Montecassino

“The Pontifical Institute has long appeared to observers to be the most substantial centre of medieval scholarship in North America.”
—GEORGE HOLMES, Chichele Professor of Medieval History, All Souls College, Oxford

The Institute Library, which opened in 1929 with a mere 3,000 titles donated by St Michaelís College, today has holdings of about 150,000 volumes whose lustre is enhanced and complemented by specialized collections of 9,000 reels of microfilm and 60,000 slides. The Instituteís Academic Council alone exercises control and authority over Library policies and use. Access to the Library is normally granted to professors and graduate students of the University of Toronto who work in areas allied to the Libraryís resources and, on a more restricted basis, to other members of the University of Toronto who need to consult unique copies or materials not otherwise available at the University of Toronto. Every reasonable opportunity to use the Library is also granted to Guests of the Institute and other visiting scholars.

The Institute Library is located on the fourth floor of the John M. Kelly Library of St Michael’s College at 113 St Joseph Street, Toronto. The Institute Council alone exercises control and authority over Library policies and use. Access to the library is normally granted to those professors and graduate students of the University of Toronto who need to consult unique copies or materials not otherwise accessible. Every reasonable opportunity to use the library is also given to visiting scholars, particularly Guests of the Institute.

Please note the following schedule. While every effort is made to keep information current, patrons are requested to confirm opening hours and any other matters relating to access or to the collections directly with the library staff (see below).

  • Regular hours: Starting 2 September 2014, the Institute Library will be open from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm, Monday to Friday, and from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday.
  • Holiday closings: The Library will be closed on Monday, 13 October for Thanksgiving.
  • Summer hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 4:45 pm.

For questions regarding policy and acquisitions, please contact the Librarian, Dr Greti Dinkova-Bruun. To consult rare books and manuscripts, please contact James K. Farge, CSB, Curator of the Rare Book Room, at 416 926 7283. To consult the collections, and for general information, please write to Michael Sloan or telephone 416 926 7146. Reference questions should be directed to William Edwards at 416 926 1300, ext 3423.

Policies and Regulations
The Library is owned and operated by the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, which alone exercises authority over its policies and use. It functions as a research library.

Admission to the Library is by a PIMS Library pass, valid for one year, signed by the Librarian. An up-to-date Registration Form must be on file for every pass holder and occasional user. The user's signature on the pass signifies agreement to abide by the regulations. PIMS Library Passes are normally limited to the following:

  • Fellows, Associates, Guests, and Staff of the Pontifical Institute.
  • Professors and Graduate Students in the Centre for Medieval Studies or other Departments of the University of Toronto who are working in medieval studies.
  • Undergraduate Students Majoring in Medieval Studies at St Michael's College.
  • Visiting Professors and Graduate Students from other universities working in medieval studies. Please provide reference on university letterhead.
  • Private scholars working in medieval studies.
  • Others needing materials held uniquely in this library may be given access for the day.

The Library Pass must be shown to the door monitor upon entry. Please sign the register. Although access is gratis, salaried card holders are urged to help support the Library by becoming members of the Friends of the Library.


  1. Library materials do not circulate.
  2. Only materials for research (notes, paper, laptops or writing materials) may be brought into the Library. All other materials (such as briefcases, large purses, bags, and books from St Michael's College Library that have not been checked out) are to be consigned to the coin-return lockers provided.
  3. Sixty personal lockers inside the library are available for an annual fee ($5.00) and a key-return fee ($15.00). They are suitable for purses, laptops, notes, and microfilms.
  4. When photocopying, please avoid pressing on the book spine. Books likely to be photocopied by multiple users in a course should be copied one time only, and that master copied provided for re-copying by others.
  5. For reasons of conservation, Folio and Oversize books MAY NOT BE PHOTOCOPIED. The latter should be consulted on the reading stands.
  6. Bound journals and books in the Reference and Palaeography Rooms should be returned to the shelves daily by the user. All other books should be returned daily to the re-shelving trolley at the entrance to the stacks.
  7. Please exit the Library for conversations. Please do not engage the door monitor in conversation.
  8. No food, drink, or use of cell phones is permitted in the Library.
  9. Notices posted on the bulletin boards are subject to the approval of the Librarian.
  10. Refusal or failure to observe these regulations may result in loss of library access.

Catalogues and Facilities
The entire collection is non-circulating. For a description of its resources, see A Conspectus of the Collections. The library maintains separate catalogues for its holdings of printed books, microfilms, and many of its slides. Its catalogue of printed books is now searchable through the University of Toronto's computerized Library Catalogue but the shelf-list of manuscripts on microfilm, the microfiches of the Vatican Palatine Collection of early printed books, and journal holdings have not been entered into the on-line catalogue.

In addition to the principal collections of sources indispensable to any research on the Middle Ages (such as the Patrologia Graeca, Patrologia Latina, the Corpus Christianorum in its various series, the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, the volumes of the Acta Sanctorum) and major reference works (such as the Pauly-Wissowa and Der neue Pauly, the Italia Sacra, and the Gallia Christiana), patrons also have access to CD–ROM databases of the Corpus Christianorum series (CETEDOC), the Catalogue of Latin Incipits, and Thomas Aquinas’ Opera omnia (for further details, see A Conspectus of the Collections). The Institute library contains seminar rooms, six individual offices (wired for network access), open study carrels, microfilm readers, a microfilm digital reader-printer with greyscale capabilities for enhancing images, as well as computing and photocopying facilities.

The Library now provides full-colour scanning service of most of its collection. This requires that scans be sent to the patronís email address as an electronic copy (JPG/TIFF/PDF). We aim to have the electronic copy sent within 24 hours of request (with the exception of weekends and holidays). The cost for this service is $0.25/page. Requests must be made in person as payment is required prior to the scanning. Further details and the scanning request form are available.

Report from the Librarian, 2010–2012

During the two years, July 2010–July 2012, the Library added about 2040 new volumes to its holdings, 147 of which were periodicals in five journals newly added to the collection: Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch, Mediaevalia, New Medieval Literatures, The Medieval Journal, and Cahiers de Recherches Médiévales et Humanistes. In addition, the Library purchased the Sanctoral Cycle of a manuscript Dominican missal from the thirteenth century (Bergendal MS 113) and six facsimiles of medieval manuscripts for the Rare Book collection.

We estimate that we have about 150,000 items (not counting about 60,000 colour slides). Printed books amount to about 100,000 titles; books on microfiche or microfilm 20,000; rare books 2,400 (39 incunabula); 25 manuscripts; 50 single manuscript pages; ca. 200 parchment documents; 9,000 manuscripts on microfilm; and about 1,500 CD-ROMs and DVDs. We subscribe to around 200 scholarly journals in 10 different languages, of which 76 represent the only current Toronto holdings. We also hold over 5,100 offprints of scholarly articles and pamphlets and help purchase on-line resources that are available to everyone in the U of T system.

In 2011 about 9,000 of our books were digitized and posted on the Internet Archive. This makes a total of about 11,000 books from the PIMS library now available online. In addition, about 6,000 colour slides from the Guest Collection of English monastic and conventual buildings, ruins, and sites) have been digitized. They are available for viewing on the online site FADIS (Federated Academic Digital Imaging System) accessible by anyone with a valid University of Toronto ID number. Finally, with funds from the Janet Hutchison Foundation, two of the Library's most important manuscripts were digitized and will be consultable on the PIMS website.

During the past two years we had 1181 registered readers, a decrease of around 8% over previous years. Most of them (966) were Canadians from 10 different provinces and at least 30 different universities or colleges, or were private scholars. From the USA 51 users came from at least 18 different states and 20 different universities. Sixty-one patrons from overseas used the Library, of which 27 were from England. On the average we serve 20–25 patrons each day. We provided access to over 800 microfilms / microfiches and CD-ROMS; and around 320 items from the Joseph Pope Rare Book Room were given to consultation. Over 400 requests for Inter-Library Loans were received, of which 70 could be filled by providing photocopies of the requested materials. The revenue generated from this was used for new acquisitions. Finally, we gave many tours of the Library to individuals, classes, and other academic and professional organizations.

The Gilson Collection is currently being reorganized to integrate uncatalogued materials, rearrange its holdings by publication date, integrate copies dedicated to Gilson or autographed by their authors, and generally make the collection more useful and better known. The same will eventually be done for the Maritain Collection.

We are grateful to the Janet E. Hutchison Foundation, the Centre for Medieval Studies, Maruja Jackman, the Friends of the Library, and Father Edward Jackman for contributions to our acquisitions funds. A gift from the Hutchison Foundation made possible the conservation of several books in the Joseph Pope Rare Book Room. The value of gifts in kind – manuscripts and printed works – amounted to nearly $700,000 over the two years.

We received particularly large numbers of books from the libraries of Diane Bennett, the late John Leyerle, Patricia Eberle, Margot King, and Olga Pugliese. Other gifts in kind or donations for journal adoptions came from Alexander André, Jonathan Bengtson, Oleg Bychkov, James Carley, Sheila Campbell, Rose Chaplan, Andrew Davidson, Natalie Zemon Davis, Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Margaret English, Claude Evans, Father Robert Foliot, SJ, Joseph Goering, Carl Hammer, James Hankins, Bill Harnum, Ann Hutchison, Gertrud Jaron Lewis, Maruja Jackman, Nancy Kovacs, Rachel Koopmans, Father James McConica, CSB, Christopher McDonough, John Magee, Linda Marshall, Tina Marshall, Brian Merrilees, Andreas Meyer, Neil Moran, Michèle Mulchahey, Heather Darling Pigat, Stella Panayotova, Mary Martha Parrott, Martin Pickavé, Father William Sheehan, CSB, Philip Slavin, Father Allan Smith, CSB, Brian Stock, Jill Webster, Faith Wallis, and John Ward. Our apologies to any donors whose names we have failed to record.

We wish to acknowledge the work of our staff, Michael Sloan and Bill Edwards, and to Michael Bramah and Remi Pulwer of the John M. Kelly Library for their assistance.

Librarian (2012–)

Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections (2012–)

Librarian (2011)


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