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The Toronto Public Library Digital Collections website brings together a variety of primary and secondary source materials from the Library's collections. This is an ongoing program created to digitally capture and provide online access to the Library's rare and special collections via the Internet to further historical research and personal study.
The site includes digital images of books and printed text, city directories, ephemera (coming soon), manuscripts (coming soon), maps and pictures. Several text-only databases are also provided. All of the images are individually described, and full text searching is provided for books and printed text.
The Digital Collections use BEA WebLogic portal technology. Portal technology provides a way of organizing information from a variety of sources. It allows users to view each application or Web page in its own window, called a portlet.
Portlets can be hidden and unhidden depending whether you need them or not. Click on to show the portlet or on to hide it.
You can keyword search the Digital Collections using either Simple or Advanced search.
Search for keywords in
The full text of digitized documents and transcriptions
The title, creator, creator role, date, collection, subject, geographic coverage, language, publisher, format, record number and institution fields in the record for each digitized document
The title, publisher, description and keyword fields in the record for each Internet site
The full text of each guide in Research Advice
Enter a word or words in the Search box that appears at the top of every page.
By default, a search for multiple words will retrieve records containing all of the words. E.g., Entering parks Kingston will retrieve records containing both “parks” AND “ Kingston.”
Search terms are not case sensitive. Using upper or lower case when you type your search words will not affect your results.
Search results that exceed 1,000 items take more time to display. If you end up with too many results, try Advanced Search to narrow your search.
You can go to Advanced Search from any page by clicking on the link above the Search box.
Enter a word or words in the search box.
Choose the type of search by clicking on the radio button next to:
All Words : All words entered will appear in each record. Example: macdonald park kingston
Any Word : Broaden your search to include records containing any one of the words entered. This search type is useful for synonyms. Example: railroad railway
Phrase : The exact phrase you enter will appear in each record. Example: north york
SEARCH TIP: Use the Phrase option when searching for a person’s name (in either first name-surname or surname-first name order)
henry agnew agnew henry
or an address
Choose search limiters to narrow your search.
Include : Choose the type(s) of material to include in your search:
Books & Printed Text
City Directories of Toronto: choose one or more directories to search
Manuscripts (coming soon)
The default search retrieves any type of material.
Information from : Restrict your results to materials from or about a specific geographic area.
Search all of Canada by default, or choose up to 10 Ontario cities.
Language : Restrict your search results to materials in a particular language.
Date : Restrict your search results to materials created before, after or on a specific date or within a date range.
This option limits the search using the “date created” field – for instance, the date a photograph was taken, etc. To search for other dates that may occur within documents (e.g., the date an event took place, as opposed to the date when a text was published), type the date as a keyword in the search box.
Further Refine your Search : Select additional fields to search from the drop-down menu. Enter search terms and click the Add a Criteria button.
Sort by : Choose a method of sorting your search results.
By default, results will appear in alphabetical order by title.
To change the sort method, choose an option from the drop-down menu. You can sort by:
Collection or Series
Creator Role (e.g., photographer, designer)
Location (where the original item is held)
Number (record identifier)
Production Title (for theatrical materials)
Name (Toronto neighbourhood names)
Region (Toronto regions)
Click the radio button beside Ascending or Descending to choose the order.
If you have chosen to sort based on a text field, such as Creator, selecting Ascending will sort the results from A to Z, while choosing Descending will put the results in reverse alphabetical order.
If you have chosen a numeric sort, such as Date Created, selecting Ascending will sort the results from oldest to most recent (e.g., 1833, 1851, 1872), while choosing Descending will put the results in reverse chronological order, with the most recent results appearing at the top (e.g., 1910, 1899, 1881).
Search results appear in a Search results portlet below the Search box.
The Summary tab indicates the total number of results as well as the number of results for each type of material. Click on the tabs at the top of the portlet to see the results for specific categories.
Print the results for a particular category by clicking the Print This Page button.
Save the search by clicking the Save Search Query button. A Saved Searches portlet will appear on the right-hand side of the screen with a list of searches you have saved. Saved Searches will only be saved for the duration of the current session. You can email Saved Searches to yourself in text format.
Click on an image thumbnail or a record title to open the picture detail portlet for a search result.
Search results that exceed 1,000 items take more time to display. If your search has more than 1,000 results, you will be given three options:
Too many results? Try Advanced Search to be more specific
Show all results. This will take more time
Show 1000 items only
Browse Digital Collections by Format
You can browse the digital collections from any page on the site by clicking the button on the Browse Digital Collections by Format portlet.
Click on any major heading (Books & Printed Text, Pictures, etc.) to see its sub-categories. Clicking on more > will also take you to the sub-category list.
Under each main category are links to examples of formats found under that heading. You can click on any of these links to go directly to that category.
Top Picks highlight specific formats.
Clicking on a format category generates a results list of all digital collections materials matching that format.
Print the results for the category by clicking the Print This Page button.
Email the list of results by clicking the Send to Email button.
Click on an image thumbnail or a record title to open the picture detail portlet for a browse result.
Categories containing more than 1,000 items take more time to display. If the category you click on has more than 1,000 results, you will be given the following options:
Return to Browse menu and try a different term
Try Advanced Search to be more specific
Show all results. This will take more time
Show 1000 items only
Note: Internet sites and Research Advice are not included in Browse Canadian Theatre Record by Format. Click on Research Advice or Browse Other Image Collections on the Internet to access these resources, or try a keyword search to find specific information.
Browse Other Image Collections on the Internet
Click the button on the Browse Other Image Collections on the Internet portlet to browse links to other digital collections sites.
Picture Detail Portlet
In a list of search or browse results, clicking on a digital image thumbnail or a record title opens a picture detail portlet.
In the picture detail portlet, you can:
View the complete item record.
Click on hyperlinks within the item record to search for more records matching the linked terms.
View a larger version of the digital image. Click View larger image.
View a transcription of the text (where available). Click View transcription.
Jump to other search results within the same document. Click on page numbers in the View page section above the item record.
Jump to any other pages or sections within the document. Enter an exact page number in the Jump to page box and click Go, or click on a page range or section name.
Print. Click the Printer Friendly button. You can choose to print the image, the description, the transcription (where available) or all three.
Email the record. Click the Send to Email button.
Viewing Large Images
Large image files, such as maps and atlas pages, automatically open in a viewer that allows you to magnify the images. You may wish to download the ExpressView Browser Plug-in (also known as MrSID) from www.lizardtech.com.
Save to Favourites
Save records for the duration of your session by clicking the Save to Favourites button, which appears beside each search result and in each item record. A Saved Favourites portlet will appear on the right-hand side of the screen with a list of records you have saved. Saved Favourites are only saved during the current session. You can print the Saved Favourites or email them to yourself.
Go To ...
Easy access to related resources. Click on to access:
Toronto Public Library
Homepage: Information about the library
Virtual exhibits: Online exhibits of items from the library’s special collections
Virtual Reference Library: Librarian-selected websites and research support
Special collections: Information about Toronto Public Library’s special collections
Images Canada: A gateway to online archives of Canadian images