Toronto Reference Library adds dedicated room for writers

Toronto's Reference Library has set aside a room just for writers, an idea Toronto novelist Robert Rotenberg says will provide a perfect place to work.

'I can't do anything else there but write,' says novelist Robert Rotenberg

The new Writers' Room at the Toronto Reference Library will feature four workstations that writers can book for three-month blocks of time. (Toronto Public Library)

For Toronto novelist and lawyer Robert Rotenberg, it's what the city's Reference Library doesn't have that also makes it the perfect place to work on a novel.

"I can't do anything else there but write," the man behind books such as Stranglehold, Old City Hall and Stray Bullets said Thursday in an interview on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "My clients can't get to me, I can't do laundry or make a salad. It's quiet and it's central."

This will give writers wandering from coffee shop to coffee shop a place where they can be- Robert Rotenberg on the Reference Library's new Writers' Room

And the space is about to get better for Toronto writers who like to shape their novels, screenplays or political polemics in the city's massive library. Scribes like Rotenberg can now work in the new Writers' Room which comes complete with work stations, power outlets and access to wireless Internet.

Writers can apply to use one of the room's four work stations for a three-month period.

For Rotenberg — who has a deep love of wandering the library's stacks and newspaper collection — the room will offer a place to park the research material he uses in his writing.

"It's fantastic," he said. "You need a place to leave your junk … your papers, your newspapers, your clippings and just leave your stuff around. This will give writers wandering from coffee shop to coffee shop a place where they can be.

"It's kind of like opening an art space where people can get a start. It speaks to what a library should be."

Sometimes Rotenberg uses the library to research a specific topic. At other times, he's seeking a piece of information to inspire him.

"People say 'You can find everything on Google,' but there's not that sense of adventure, wandering, surprise," he said.

"You need some blank space. You need to let your mind wander and physically wander."

Any writer, published or not, can apply to use the Reference Library's Writers' Room for a three-month period with an option to renew, depending on availability. Booking the room requires a library card and the room is only available during the Reference Library's opening hours.

Interested writers can apply here to use the room, or click here for more information.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.