Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, Toronto Public Library

Type: Library

This Library houses s unique collection of children’s literature


Conservation / Preservation:

Archives / Library

    • Archival library book collections such as the Osborne Collection of Books published to the end of 1910
    • The Lillian H. Smith Collection of modern notable titles
    • The Canadiana Collection of materials written, published, or substantially related to Canada.
    • Book collections, book-related art, literary archives, games and ephemera.
    • Most materials are English-language, with a few exceptions of classics of children’s literature published in original languages, and some modern notable French-language materials.
    • The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books spans literary classics to popular culture, including such novelties as movables and miniatures.
    • The oldest artifacts in the Collection are cuneiform tablets dating from 2,000 B.C.E.
    • Modern children’s books: a fourteenth-century manuscript of Aesop’s fables; fifteenth-century traditional tales, sixteenth-century school texts, and courtesy books.
    • Godly Puritan works
    • Eighteenth-century chapbooks, moral tales and rational recreations
    • Victorian classics of fantasy adventure and school stories up to 1910.
    • Florence Nightingale’s childhood library
    •  Queen Mary’s children’s books
    • Materials pertaining to members of theTaylor family of Ongar
    • The Pettingell Collection of periodicals and penny dreadfuls
    • Extensive holdings of the works of G.A. Henty
    • The John Sullivan Hayes Collection: Predominantly nineteenth and twentieth-century English Children’s books and considerable Canadiana

Public Programming:


Teachers and instructors are welcome to contact the Osborne Collection to  arrange group visits, subject to space and scheduling.

Educational programming

Classes starting at Grade 4 may enjoy exhibits and talks, while high school, college, and university-level students may be given subject presentations  on Osborne material

Online Exhibitions   

Online exhibits highlighting items from the Osborne Collection: Worlds Away: Wild Inventions at OsborneWhen Cinderella Went to the Ball: Five Hundred Years of Fairy Tales, Picture Perfect! – An Exhibit of Canadian Picture Book Art, This Magical Book: Movable Books for Children, 1771-2001

Volunteer/Internship/Placement Opportunities:

Volunteers are recruited to help maintain, preserve and display the collections and archival material.

Address & Contact Information:

Located on the 4th floor of Lillian H. Smith branch
239 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1R5

Phone: 416-393-7753
Email: answerline@torontopubliclibrary.ca
Website: http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/osborne/

Hours of Operation:

Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm

Saturday: 9am-5pm

Sunday: closed

Key Words: literature, children