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GCM 710 -- The Art of the Book

This LibGuide was originally developed as a course guide with a focus on researching fine book publishing and book design. For winter 2019, there is a new page on researching books from the McGraw-Hill Ryerson Press Collection at the Toronto Metropolitan

Working in Special Collections

Archives and Special Collections units of libraries, museums, and other cultural bodies tend to have policies on access and use that differs from "circulating" libraries.

  • Materials are non-circulating, for use in the reading room only
  • Materials are held in closed stacks, often in climate controlled facilities for preservation purposes
  • Register as a user
  • Make an appointment, or at least e-mail in advance 24-48 hours ideally (if the facility is booked for a class instruction session, you may not be admitted).  At TMU, request an appointment with the call numbers of the items that you want to consult by emailing
  • Handle materials with care, make notes with pencil only, follow instructions from the staff
  • Photography, scanning, and other uses at the discretion of staff as outlined in their policies

Toronto Metropolitan University: Archives and Special Collections

TMU Archives and Special Collections Homepage

At TMU, email with the call numbers of the items that you want to request an appointment

The collections include archival records about Toronto Metropolitan University, and research materials in book and non-book formats.

The book collections include Rare and unusual books, The Children's Literature Archive, The Canadian Library Association Award Books, The McGraw-Hill Ryerson Press Collection. All of the books are being described and catalogued and can be searched in the library's Catalogue.

Non-book material can be found by searching the Archives & Special Collections's (ASC's) Search Collections, or, Search our Collections links.

A browse for "mcgraw-hill ryerson press" will turn up a record called Ryerson Press Collection.

From this point, you can explore information about the two major donations that constituted the first accrual or transfer of material to Toronto Metropolitan University, namely Textual Material consisting of some 1800 contracts or author agreements, and close to 3000 books.There is a working list of the book titles but it has some errors.

For more complete finding of titles of books, use the library's Catalogue.

A keyword search for "mcgraw-hill ryerson press collection" will identify all titles catalogued to date that are part of this collection. All catalogued items can be used in the ASC reading room. At this time, the catalogue records may not include all of the details that you seek, for example information about the the type of binding, the presence or absence of a dust jacket, the names of illustrators or designers when known, etc. We are working to address some of these shortcomings. 

Other Libraries in Toronto

The University of Toronto has many libraries and special collections. You should be aware of at least three of them:

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library - has extensive holdings of Canadian imprints (books published in Canada) as well as foreign editions of works by Canadian authors; many have original dust jackets; 
-open to the public but many items are now stored off-site so you have to request items in advance

Victoria University, the E.J. Pratt Library - has some extensive Special Collections, including Canadiana (books by Canadian residents or about Canada). Manuscript collections are a large component of the Special Collections, but they have books in storage available by request only

Here is a sample catalogue record that includes information about the presence of a dust jacket and a tracing for the name of the creator of the illustration, in this case, Dingle, Adrian:

Massey College, the Robertson Davies Library

Toronto Public Library (TPL) has a number of special collections and extensive numbers of books in the reference collection at the Toronto Reference Library. For works written for children, The Osborne Collection in the Lillian H. Smith Branch of TPL has many books by Canadians and about Canada. 

The United Church of Canada Archives - Until 1970, the Ryerson Press was owned by the church or its predecessor, notably the Methodist Church. Much of the material related to the trade arm of the operation, namely the Ryerson Press, was transferred to the new owners in 1970. Some records from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are part of the UCCA's Board of Publications fonds.

They have an information page of the relevant collectionr Fonds F513 United Church of Canada Publications Collection and a link to the pdf version of the New Finding Aid for this collection.

The UCCA has some older printed books and pamphlets that are catalogued in the University of Toronto Libraries catalogue because the archive was once housed at Victoria University and valued for its research holdings.

The Internet Archive: A Treasury of Public Domain Files

When digitizing books and printed resources, the Internet Archive organization used 1923 as a guiding year, under the assumption that most works published prior to that year would fall within the public domain, meaning, no longer protected by copyright.

Copyright in Canada extends to 50 years after the death of the creator. This will be lengthened to 70 years, more in keeping with the American and UK norms, once the USMCA Trade Agreement is ratified. (This marks a change of copyright law by trade agreement...)

This is a great place to find multiple editions, printings etc. of early books from the Ryerson Press and its predecessors.

The Internet Archive

Searching Other Libraries to Identify Editions and Holdings

From the TMU Library Catalogue, choose the "Search Other Libraries" Quick Link.

Use the WorldCat search option to find information about other editions of a work.

Selected Authors Whose Books Include Dust Jackets

Farnol, Jeffrey (most books from the 1920s to1940s)

Du Maurier, Daphne (books from the 1940s published by Ryerson Press)

Gibbs, Philip (mostly 1930s to 1950s)

Bird, Will R.(1920s to 1960s)