public library toronto

The Best Public Library in Toronto

The best public library in Toronto is where bibliophiles of the city flock for books, workshops, and a little quiet time. As one of the biggest library systems in the world, there's no shortage of TPL branches to peruse your favourite authors or get shushed by a librarian—all you need is a library card.

Here are the best public libraries in Toronto.

Toronto Reference Library

The winding atrium of Toronto’s foremost keeper of books is a thing of art, in a very carpeted, 70s way. From the clear glass study pods and Sherlock Holmes room to the Balzac’s and the TCAF store on the first floor—this place has it all.

Bloor/Gladstone

Since its shiny renovation, this branch—which was built in 1913—has become a favourite spot to study and work. The glass box added to the old building by Alfred Chapman offers tons of natural light and has a soothing reading garden that bookworms will love.

Fort York

Built in 2014 to serve the growing number of residents in City Place, this shiny building is one of the newest on the list. It also offers really great free programs, like Adobe workshops and green screen for beginners.

Scarborough Civic Centre

This beautiful building is definitely not your typical old brick library. Built in 2015, its interior and exterior features tons of black spruce, green roofs, floor to ceiling windows, 3D printing, and over 40,000 items to explore.

North York Central Library

Recently renovated, this multi-floor branch now has tons of kid friendly areas like the Discovery Zone, which has an Everbrite wall that even adults will want to play with. They’ve also got the first fabrication studio of any TPL location, offering free workshops on how to sew.

Brentwood Library

An $8 million renovation turned this library in Etobicoke from a regular TPL branch to a modern affair with reading lounges, living rooms with fireplaces, and a reading garden with stone bench seating.

High Park Library

This branch on Roncy is a heritage building that’s undergone multiple renovations. As one of the original trio of libraries first built with a $50,000 grant from New York’s Carnegie Corporation, it’s definitely not the largest, but it’s definitely cozy.

Beaches Library

Local residents actually protested the construction of this library back in 1916 (they didn't want a building on park property) but now it’s one of the most loved branches in the area. Like all Carnegie libraries, it’s small, but it does have an outdoor reading garden that’s open all summer.

Lillian H. Smith

Aside from having one of the best collections of rare science fiction and fantasy books in the city, this branch also has some whimsical architectural features like the winged lions in the arched entrance (look closer to find more animals) and a beautiful cylindrical atrium. 

Lead photo by

Toronto Public Library


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