Know How

The blog of the Great Library


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When One Door Closes, Another Opens

Being as old as it is, it is no surprise that the Great Library at Osgoode Hall harbours many secrets. As we usher in spring (if it ever comes) with our guided library tours and with the City of Toronto event Doors Open, we hope to prepare all those who venture into the Library for the many mysteries they may encounter—and to open some doors of our own.

As grand and as impressive as it is, the Great Library did not always encompass over 20 rooms on three floors. In fact, the library was first built to be contained in a single room. Over the years it became clear that this would not be enough space and so the Library expanded, slowly but surely taking over unused and unsuspecting spaces. Needless to say, most of the rooms which now make up the Library were not originally intended to be used for such a purpose. This is especially evident in the stacks room located on the first floor.

At first, it may appear unassuming—sure, the book stacks may zig-zag through some tight spaces, but nothing truly out of the ordinary. Until, that is, we reach a seemingly ordinary door located at the far end of the room which opens to…

…another door. Which opens to…

…you guessed it—another door.

Now, this last set of doors does not lead to another set of doors, but to a very cold room with a high vaulted ceiling featuring a wall lined with many rectangular compartments.

We can hazard a guess or two on the purpose this room may have served. If we revisit the fact that the room which harbours this mysterious nook was not always a part of the Library, and combine that knowledge with the other clues that the Law Society of Ontario’s curator has discovered and reviewed in her post “It was a Dark and Stormy Night”, we can guess this room may at one point have acted as the vault for a stamp office.

Currently, this room is vacant, and only used by staff when the pages from our loose-leaf materials go missing and the need for a holding cell arises.

Oh, did I say that we had reached the end of the long line of doors?

Not quite. But this is one door that this Librarian does not have the courage (or strength) to open.