Explore Toronto: John W. Graham Library

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John W. Graham library at the University of Toronto

I’m going to take you all into the wonderful depths of just possibly my favorite building in the entire world. Tucked right in between St. George and Museum station, in the Yorkville/Annex area of Toronto, sits one of UofT’s best kept secrets: the Trinity College library. I almost want to stop typing now, because it won’t be so “secret” as I share this with all of you, but it’s just such a wonderful place, and sharing is caring right? The roots of this building go back all the way to 1828, and now it stands as a heritage building for University of Toronto students and faculty to use. I once stumbled across it by accident when I was exploring the UofT St. George campus instead of studying, and well, I’ve never had such success after procrastinating on finals like this one. It was early December 2013, and after aimlessly walking around Trinity College for a while I stumbled right into their library. A roaring fireplace, a large Christmas tree, and a beautiful wooden staircase greets me at first glance. Graham in itself reminds me of the library of a rich but quiet lord who likes to keep to himself in the suburbs of England somewhere during the early 1900’s. If I ignore the electric lighting, the electric fireplaces, the shiny elevator, and the outlets with the laptop chargers plugged in, I could actually believe I’m in the early Downton Abbey era. Everything from the smell of the old books, the small rooms tucked in at the end of each floor, the bookshelves and plush armchairs surrounding them, make me forget my looming exams and the wish to could just curl up with a good book in their cozy quiet reading rooms.

This. This is where I want to sit with a peppermint hot chocolate and finish reading a library book in one sitting. But I can't. Because life isn't always fair.

This. This is where I want to sit with a peppermint hot chocolate and finish reading a library book in one sitting. But I can’t. Because life isn’t always fair.

J. W. Graham library is 4 floors in total. I’ll go bottom up for you. The basement is the only floor with bathrooms for starters, and with the third floor of the library being my favorite to be on, it is a little inconvenient to go down 3 flights of stairs especially considering all the coffee we drink while studying….but that is about the most critical I’ll ever get about J. W. Graham, and you can hold me to that one. The basement which is underground, doesn’t have any windows and the lack of natural light reminds me of the Ryerson library (ugh) hence why I have not once to date studied there. There’s quite a large number of cubicles, one large group study room with a communal table, and the most important feature would be the rectangle of sofas and armchairs next to the newspaper rack. Their newspaper archives are also situated in the basement, and even on the earliest of mornings, I’ll see people reading the daily paper there.

Moving up one floor is the main floor, the one which leads to the main entrance. Again only because of it’s proximity to the entrance and hence the noise that follows suit (I prefer my pindrop silence when doing those treacherous math problems, thank you), I’ve never studied on this floor. The first floor is also where the circulation desk is and a few rows of computers. There are also two study rooms on this floor as well as a generous handful of those gorgeous wooden cubicles.

Large wooden individual seating cubicles like this one line the walls of all the floors at J. W. Graham.  Yes that's an outlet. Yes all of the cubicles have an outlet. You internet addict.

Large wooden individual seating cubicles like this one line the walls of all the floors at J. W. Graham. Yes that’s an outlet. Yes all of the cubicles have an outlet. You internet addict.

Okay, let’s climb up another flight of these majestic stairs now. We’ve officially reached the second floor. Now THIS is where the real magic starts. The second and third floors are around 80% identical, (the second floor having two group study rooms and one small single-person room, which the third floor doesn’t have). They are both quiet study floors. The staircase is right in the middle of the floors and features beautiful paintings with a timeless chandelier at the top.

The ever-famous (majestic!) staircase. It's so beautiful, this picture does no justice. Also it's much much brighter in person. Sorry I'm such a bad photographer.

The ever-famous (majestic!) staircase. It’s so beautiful, this picture does no justice. Also it’s much much brighter in person. Sorry I’m such a bad photographer.

Opposite the staircase on each floor sits a small open room complete with a fireplace, two armchairs, and one communal table. All the walls of the room are covered from ceiling to floor with dark wooden bookshelves. Just the sight of this room awakens my senses while making me wonder for the millionth time, why, just why, couldn’t I have been born a century before I actually was. Here are a couple of shots of the reading rooms:

View of the reading room as you get off the staircase.

View of the reading room as you get off the staircase.

View from the corner.

View from the corner. ISN’T IT SO PRETTY. Don’t ask how come there’s no one in the library. I woke up at an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning to take these, because I knew no one would be there. Mission accomplished.

Yeah, I should have turned on the fireplace before I took the picture. Sorry about that.

Yeah, I should have actually turned on the fireplace before I took the picture. Sorry about that. Where are the servants Carson? Why is my fireplace not turned on? What is the meaning of this? Okay just kidding, this is electrical and only needs a switch to turn on. Also I’m not Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey. I seem to forget that much more often than I should.

As soon as you leave the room, are where the actual books start. Okay so to be completely honest, I’ve never actually read a book from here, but when I see other students picking them out for their essays and projects, I wish I could be in their place every time, instead of jabbing numbers into my calculator for equations I’m probably having a hard time remembering anyways. Damn it, engineering. The bookshelves continue with the gorgeous brown wood theme.

View from the middle of the floor down to the end.

View from the middle of the floor down to the end. I actually don’t know what the topics of these books are because I’ve never bothered to read one. Something about art history and religion. Hey, I never said I was a librarian.

More individual cubicles line each of the side walls as well as more communal tables for studying. If you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s LOTS of places to study at J. W. G. At both ends of the second and third floors, sit large reading rooms. These rooms are actually where I spend most of my time when I’m here. A large 10-seater table sits in each one, as well as 4 extremely cozy armchairs. There’s potlights on the ceiling, and large windows boast great views of the rest of the campus and Robarts library which looms in the background, west of Trinity college.

View from the armchairs. Great place if all you need to do is read or work on your laptop, and not worry about writing, typing, calculating...damn it.

View from the armchairs. Great place if all you need to do is read or work on your laptop, and not worry about writing, typing, calculating…damn it.

View including other two armchairs.

View including other two armchairs.

View from the window and the distant Hart House. Its beautiful at night time too, all the lights  of downtown Toronto glittering in the background.

View from the window and the distant Hart House. Its beautiful at night time too, all the lights of downtown Toronto glittering in the background.

Complete room view.

Complete room view.

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