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Life > Experiences

5 Not-So-Hidden Toronto Public Library Perks To Take Advantage Of

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

If you’re familiar with me, you’ll know I’m a huge advocate of the Toronto Public Library. In light of recent cybersecurity attacks on the public library’s system, I’ve become even more aware of how much we take the library for granted.

Aside from borrowing the occasional book or using study spaces, there are so many other unique things that the library offers. The best part? It’s all free; all you need is a library card! Even if you don’t live in the city, students at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) can still get library cards. Here are five features of the Toronto Public Library to take advantage of. 


As a movie enthusiast, I absolutely adore Hoopla and its wide selection of free movies. While they might not have the latest and greatest movies on the platform, there are some certified gems such as The Apartment, The Great Escape, and Hoosiers, just to name a few.

Even if you’re not a big movie person, there are some comics to borrow, including series like Blacksad, The Walking Dead, and Loki. You can also borrow music albums on the site.

Finally, something new to Hoopla is the ability to borrow BingePasses. With a BingePass, you can stream collections of premium content for seven days. These passes include Comics Kingdom, Great Courses Video, and the Puzzle Palace pass to access even more fun resources.

Libby (previously Overdrive)

From ebooks to audiobooks to magazines, Libby is a haven for on-the-go reading or listening.

Unlike Hoopla, on Libby, you’ll be able to borrow the hottest books that everyone’s talking about. If you’re big on audiobooks, the resource has a great selection to listen to during a long commute or an autumn stroll.

Not a fan of books? You can also borrow the latest issues of magazines like The New Yorker and Variety without paying a cent. And if you want to borrow an audiobook, magazine or ebook all at once, you can! You can borrow up to 30 items at a time for one to three weeks.

Bonus: you don’t have to worry about returning items, as Libby automatically does it for you. So, if you’re not keen on bringing a physical book everywhere, turn to Libby for a digital alternative.

Borrowing Instruments

Did you know that at certain branches, you can borrow instruments? It’s true! While I’ve never borrowed one before, the thought of playing a ukulele, violin or an accordion sounds pretty fun to me.

Patrons can borrow one instrument at a time for up to three weeks. Be aware that there are long lineups for these instruments due to the limited number of branches with this program.

tpl: map

The Toronto Public Library recently moved to a new system to obtain these coveted Museum + Arts passes (MAP). With tickets to attractions like Black Creek Pioneer Village, Ontario Science Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, and the Toronto Zoo, passes tend to run out quickly.

Every first of the month, starting at 12 a.m., new passes are available for patrons interested in securing one. Note that patrons will have to pick a date and time for when they want to visit one of these places. 

Even though I haven’t had the chance to try out the new system, last year, my sisters and I successfully secured passes to go to the Bata Shoe Museum, the Textile Museum of Canada, and the Royal Ontario Museum! If you can get them, they are definitely worth it.

Free Programs

Every branch offers free programs for a range of topics. From how to file taxes to sewing basics and an introduction class to 3D printing, there is something for everyone.

For example, just last week, I went to a Dungeons and Dragons event where I got to learn how to play the iconic game. It was a great experience! Just note that you must call in advance or visit the branch in person to ensure your spot in the workshop. Depending on the program, spots fill out quickly.

There are also free author talks and lectures which you can attend if you feel like learning something new.

In addition to these five cool things the library has to offer, there are so many branch-particular features that I didn’t mention. The Toronto Public Library is an amazing resource that we should take advantage of. The best part is you don’t even have to step foot into the library to access most of these resources. Have fun!

📖 Related: A Library-Hopping Guide: Toronto Edition
Amanda Noor

Toronto MU '24

Amanda Noor is a fourth-year Creative Industries student at Toronto Metropolitan University. She's a huge movie and TV buff and American history and political junkie. When she's not writing articles for Her Campus, you can find her watching sitcoms from the 80s and 90s or daydreaming about living in New York City.