Special Collections

Special Collections was established to help support the learning and teaching needs and facilitate the scholarly, research and creative activities of the Ryerson community by acquiring and preserving photography, film and cultural history objects. We have a particular responsibility to help students and staff gain access to objects in niche subject areas and aid them in the interpretation of those objects. Come in and see what we have to offer!

What kind of things do you collect? How can I search your holdings?

Special Collections has many rare, fragile, audiovisual and other non-book items, as well as materials that relate to specific research fields. All our books and some of the audiovisual material are in the library catalogue, indicated as Special Collections items in the Location field.  You can browse or search our non-book resources online,  or book a research appointment by phone or email specialcollections@ryerson.ca.

Booking 16mm Films

Faculty and instructors with active library cards may book 16mm films for a maximum of 2 days for screening in classes. Please allow 2 business days notice to process requests. Booked films may be picked up at the circulation desk on the 2nd floor. To book, please email specialcollections@ryerson.ca.

How can you help me with my research?

The Archives and Special Collections (A&SC) staff are here to facilitate research and access to collections for the broader Ryerson community.  Appointments to view items in either the Archives or Special Collections reading rooms can be made via telephone or email. When making an appointment, please include the reference number of the item, or collection or call number of the books you would like to consult.  Books and periodicals can be searched in advance of your visit through the Ryerson Library catalogue. Any of the books or periodicals from the catalogue that are located in the Archives or Special Collections reading rooms will be noted as such in the ‘Location’ area in the record. All other A&SC materials can be searched in advance of your visit through the A&SC database.

What if I need more help?

Please feel free to make an appointment for more in-depth research assistance tailored to your specific research interests by emailing Special Collections (specialcollections@ryerson.ca) or the Archives (archives@ryerson.ca) with the subject of your research, the collection you would like to access and your preferred time. The A&SC staff will enable you to engage in efficient and productive research by orienting you to the available materials and search tools that are relevant to your research interests.


Is there anything you can’t do?

Unfortunately, we can’t conduct your research for you.  We’re happy to help you locate and access records; navigate our database, catalogue, and paper-based finding aids; digitize material for educational use; access existing digitized material; and refer you to other collections items that are related to your topic. We can’t do things like conduct preliminary searches; research, locate, and digitize the results of subject-based search requests sent in remotely; read through large files in search of items relevant to your research; or clear image reproduction rights with third-party permissions holders.

Can I use images from the collection?

You can request high quality digital images of collections objects and we are happy to make these available for uses that fall under Ryerson University’s Fair Dealing guidelines.  You may be asked to sign an Image Use Agreement prior to the images being released and images must be accompanied by a credit line citing the Ryerson University Special Collections in any case where material is reproduced. Please note that unauthorized reproduction of images (including those contained on the Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections web site), is prohibited.

What is your collecting policy?

Information related to our Collections Development Policy and the process of donating to Special Collections can be found here.

How do I make an Appointment?  How do I get there?

The Ryerson University Library building (LIB) is on the north side of Gould street, between O’Keefe Lane and Victoria Street.  Enter the Library on the 2nd floor of the building and take the elevator or the stairs to the 4th floor.  For an appointment, email Special Collections, or call 416-979-5000 x 7027 to speak to an Archives or Special Collections staff member. Please try to be as specific as possible about what you’re looking for so we can help you make the best use of your visit.

Can I Borrow Books or Objects? (Access policies)

Special Collections cares for rare books and some amazing cultural resources so we don’t let anything out of our sight. You’re welcome to consult books and objects in our reading room and use a camera or cell phone to take pictures though, and we can photocopy materials for you too.

Can you deliver books to my classroom for instruction?

We have a new reading room that can accommodate up to 25 students, and a teaching space that can accommodate up to 80 students. We are happy to book either space for instructors and faculty to teach classes with our collections material, but we cannot remove items from the library. Email us to book a class.