If you want to feel like part of the community, look no further than your local public library.

READ: These 3 Toronto Libraries Are Giving Co-Working Spaces A Run For Their Money

Gone are the days when libraries were just a place to borrow books. These days, libraries are coveted community centres. Places where people listen, learn and connect.

Below, we compiled a list of our favourite and most Instagrammable Toronto Public Libraries. These resource centres are stunning inside and out. Which are your favourites?

Brentwood Branch

Address: 36 Brentwood Rd. N.

Hours: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Originally built in the 1950s, the Brentwood public library was renovated and expanded by Diamond & Schmitt Architects between 2010 and 2012. The stunning library sits on Indigenous land and features a quaint reading garden where you can meet and mingle with other book lovers.

The branch also includes a scanner, a computer learning centre, and an early literacy centre for kids.

Bloor/Gladstone Branch

Address: 1101 Bloor St. W.

Hours: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The winner of countless architectural design awards, the Bloor/Gladstone Library was initially built by Toronto architects Alfred H. Chapman & Robert B. McGiffin in 1913. In 1975, the library underwent a significant renovation and expansion led by Howard V. Walker and Howard D. Chapman (son of the original architect). The branch was most recently renovated by Rounthwaite, Dick and Hadley Architects Inc. in association with Shoalts and Zaback Architects Ltd. and ERA Architects Inc. in 2006.

The stunning and spacious branch contains an art exhibit space, four quiet study rooms, a CD listening station and a community room complete with a kitchen.

Lillian H. Smith Branch

Address: 239 College St.

Hours: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The whimsical sculptures that guard the library’s entrance make this space instantly Instagrammable. The building itself has undergone many renovations and revitalizations, spanning from 1964 to 1995. The most recent redesign is courtesy of Philip H. Carter Architect but still contains elements from past designers like Beck and Eadie Architects and Murray and Fliess Architects.

As a nod to the library’s historical past as a children’s library, this branch contains a special collection for kids as well as an extensive ESL collection and newcomer information service.

Scarborough Civic Centre Branch

Address: 156 Borough Dr.

Hours: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

This modern library was built in 2015 in collaboration with the Toronto Public Library Board, LGA Architectural Partners and Phillip H. Carter Architects. It was the recipient of two design awards in 2016 and 2017.

Services offered at the library include Print/Copy/Scan service, a digital innovation hub, and laptop borrowing options, as well as child and teen zones.

University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Address: 120 St. George Street, 2nd Floor

Hours: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the school year

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is home to the largest collection of rare books and manuscripts in Canada. The unique library was built in 1973 and designed by Toronto-based firm Mathers and Haldenby

Although it is a university library, members of the public are more than welcome inside. Curators and staff of the library host tours and exhibits at the library to showcase some of the library’s most buzzworthy books.

Honourable Mentions

High Park

Originally designed in 1916 by Eden Smith & Sons Architects, this branch was designed to be nearly identical to the Wychwood and Beaches branches. Over the years, the branch has renovated and refurbished by Joseph Bogdan Associates Inc.


City architect Robert McCallum designed the Riverdale branch in 1909. Since then, the branch has undergone many renovations. The most recent renovation took place in 2010 by Quadrangle Architects Ltd.

Toronto Reference Library

This library is an architectural landmark in itself. Built in 1977 by Raymond Moriyama Architects, this branch has only undergone one major renovation since it was built. The original architecture firm completed the most recent renovations.