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Toronto reference staff, c.1895, main library reference room

One of the foremost duties for staff at Toronto's main Church Street library between 1884-1909 was to provide reference service for the public. This activity often required book retrieval for patrons, maintenance of decorum in the reference and reading rooms, and replies to basic inquiries. Many library boards, following the example of schools, began to employ women for these positions beginning in the 1890s.

Staff standing left to right: Eva Davis, Rose Ferguson, Elizabeth Moir, Hattie Pettit, Margaret McElderry, Margaret Graham, and Frances Staton.
Seated left to right: Teresa O'Connor, Mina Wylie.

Frances Staton, who started at TPL in 1889, became a noted bibliographer and worked with its Canadiana collection for many decades prior to her retirement in 1944.

Photo caption: TPL Reference library staff at main Church Street library, c.1895
Photo source: Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, T-12007
Page created on 1 June 1997
Last modified on


Created February 1996 | Book requests or comments to: Libraries Today | top of this page |