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Research Guides

UC One: Engaging Toronto

A guide to researching Toronto and urban issues.

Books about Toronto at UC Library

There are hundreds of books about Toronto at the UC Library.

-- At the UC Library, the books about Toronto history are located together in one browseable section: FC3097. 
-- [Our other books about Toronto are scattered throughout a variety of sections such as Social Sciences or Literature or Architecture.]

How to search for books about Toronto

You can find books by clicking the Catalogue tab on the UofT Libraries home page. Then you can search by title, author, etc. You can also search  anywhere (i.e. all of the above), which is a good idea when you're looking for a particular topic but you don't know the offical Library of Congress subject for that topic.

Most books about Toronto have a specific Library of Congress subject such as:
     "Toronto (Ont.) -- Buildings, structures, etc. -- Guidebooks"
     "Counterculture -- Ontario -- Yorkville (Toronto) -- History -- 20th century."

What these subjects have in common is the word Toronto.  Although Library of Congress subjects can be hard to guess, you can be pretty sure that if the book's about Toronto, the subject will contain the word Toronto.

Here are your search results if you type toronto in the Catalogue search box and choose subject from the drop-down menu:

They are sorted by "Relevance," but if you want you can re-sort by clicking the "Publication Date" heading:

On the left of the screen you can "Refine Results." E.g. under "Library," you see the 5 libraries with the most items; if you click "View more" you can see all the UofT libraries and select one, e.g. University College (Laidlaw):

You can Refine Results in other ways.  E.g., under Subject you might select "Italians":

Or instead, under "Call number range" you might select "N - Fine Arts":

You can Refine Results in other ways too such as Language, or Publication Year.

In this example we knew we wanted subjects containing toronto.  For other topics, often you wouldn't know the offical Library of Congress subject for that topic, so instead you would be best to search anywhere instead of subject.  If you're looking for a particular book you can search by title or author.


If you click "Advanced Search" you will see a search box marked "Option 2: Boolean."  Here you can combine concepts and synonyms in complicated ways, e.g:

    (toronto OR montreal) AND (cyclists OR bicycles OR bicycle)

In the Hot Topics section of this guide, most of the suggested searches are this kind of "Boolean" search.

BUT please note that in the UofT Catalogue this kind of search ONLY works in the Boolean search box, it doesn't work in the regular catalogue search box.  Also, in our catalogue you can only include ten search terms in a Boolean search.


In the Hot Topics section of this guide, you'll find links to suggested searches from the UC Librarian, to help you find scholarly articles on particular topics.

To search for articles yourself, here are two options:

OPTION 1 (SUMMON): When you want to do a quick search to find a few articles on your topic, OR when you already know the title of the article you want:

From the UofT Libraries home page, click the "Articles" tab. This takes you to a tool called Summon which searches the full text of many journal articles. It's a good way to get full-text articles quickly, but it's not so good when you're doing more thorough or in-depth research, and often the results don't seem too relevant.
Hint: Optionally, you can click "Limit to articles from scholarly publications." 
Hint: If you're not getting relevant results, try clicking "Advanced Search" and then searching in the "Title" field.

Note: The "All" search box on the UofT Libraries home page also gives you article results from Summon.

OPTION 2 (SPECIALIZED ARTICLE DATABASES): When you need to do more thorough or in-depth research, OR when your quick search didn't get you enough relevant articles:

From the UofT Libraries home page, click "Subjects A-Z," then select your broad topic,  (e.g., Urban Studies or Canada or Sexual Diversity Studies). You'll find recommended article databases tailored to that broad topic. (We subscribe to hundreds of specialized article databases.)

Option 2 takes longer than Option 1, but often it will find you more articles that are relevant for your subject.

Here are direct links to a few article databases you may find particularly useful for researching Toronto or urban issues:

Recommended article databases for UC One (scholarly journal articles):

These databases are especially good for finding scholarly journal articles in particular areas of study (although they may contain some newspaper and magazine articles too).

Recommended databases for UC One (newspaper articles):

And don't forget you can also ask librarians for help finding articles about your topic.

Documentary films

UofT libraries have lots of documentaries, especially Media Commons (on the 3rd floor of Robarts Library).

Suggested search from the UC Librarian:
     DVDs and videos about Toronto
(I searched in the Catalogue for "toronto" in subject and then clicked "Videos & DVDs" under Format.)


UofT libraries have many Toronto maps, most of them at the Map and Data Library (on the 5th floor of Robarts Library).

Recommended book: Historical atlas of Toronto.

Recommended webpage (from the Toronto Reference Library): Research Guide to Toronto Maps Online.

Suggested search from the UC Librarian:
     Toronto maps (at any UofT library)
(I searched for "toronto" in subject, then clicked "Cartographic Materials" under format.)

You may want to look at the Map & Data Library's Don Valley Historical Mapping Project online.  And, they also have GIS (Geographical Information Systems) computers and staff to help you.