An anonymous gift has endowed Hart House Library for future generations.

Posted on July 11, 2014

Generations of students remember Hart House Library with affection as a special place on campus to spend a few hours, for the love of reading. Now an anonymous gift has endowed Hart House Library, enhancing the space and the programs associated with one of U of T’s most valued student spaces.

A new gift from an anonymous donor will enhance the space and programs of Hart House Library for new generations of readers, raising the library’s stature to the same prestigious level as Hart House Theatre and the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery. The endowed donation will triple the library’s resources, providing the Hart House Literary and Library Committee with the funds needed to improve the library and expand the programs and publication associated with it.

As it approaches the centennial of its opening in 1919, the library remains a place where students and Hart House members can experience the joy of reading and the pleasure of learning for its own sake. The students who make up the “Lit and Lib” manage and maintain the collection, mount monthly readings featuring a wide range of authors, organize annual literary and poetry contests and publish the annual Hart House Review.

“With this generous endowment we hope Hart House Library, in collaboration with other student groups, will become a central hub for literary activities and events on campus,” says Karthy Chin, secretary of the Literary and Library Committee. “The endowment will enable us to expand on our mandate for the library. We expect more programming, more student opportunities and more literary activities on all three U of T campuses.” The committee, which includes representatives from all U of T campuses, is exploring ways of involving more students from U of T Mississauga and U of T Scarborough in library activities and events, she says.

Jingwei Chen, the committee’s outgoing secretary says those opportunities include ways to “activate” the space. “The library provides the perfect atmosphere for author readings, panel discussions, workshops and book clubs. We want to make sure we provide a range of enriching activities.”

The endowment will also fund some sprucing up – new lighting and furniture and perhaps more shelf space – and literary and book-related programs: readings, special lectures and talks, visiting authors, creative writing opportunities, honoraria for volunteer library curators, and new acquisitions to refresh and augment the collection. It may also help to support visiting writers and The Hart House Review.

Hart House library is a reading and browsing library, whose unique contribution to the university experience and to Canada’s literary culture has been attested to by generations of students, including many of the country’s most celebrated authors.

At present the library contains almost 6,000 volumes in a wide variety of categories: Canadian literature, art, biography, fiction, mystery, history, poetry, philosophy, travel and many others. The collection reflects the choices made by the Hart House Literary and Library Committee over the years. The committee and its subcommittees consist of approximately 50 students and other Hart House members who contribute to the U of T’s unmatched literary life and traditions.