Those who associate the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library with dusty medieval tomes will be surprised to find the latest issues of The Philippine Reporter in its expansive archives.
Rare Book Librarian David Fernández was honoured to accept the newspaper’s latest issues on September 17th to add to its archived 25-year print collection.
“This is an important donation since it reflects our commitment to build research collections for future generations of scholars who, in this case, might be studying the history of the Philippine diaspora in Canada,” said Fernández.
The Philippine Reporter has the distinction of being the only community paper with its entire run archived at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.
The Philippine Reporter received this honour in 2014 when a University of Toronto professor noted that students, faculty, researchers, and journalists were using the paper as a reference.
With its consistent coverage of important issues relevant to Filipino Canadians, the newspaper was readily added to the library’s archives upon the recommendation of the professor, and the approval of Anne Dondertman, Library Director.
With a multi-floor complex at Robarts Library and a number of off-site locations, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is truly a “collection of collections,” said Fernández.
As Fernández gave a private tour of the library to Philippine Reporter staff, friends and family, he showcased Filipino items such as a copy of the first book published in the Philippines, the 1534 Doctrina Christiana.
Featuring passages written in baybayin, the pre-colonial Philippine language, the Doctrina Christiana was meant to aid Spanish colonizers with the spread of Catholicism.
Fernández also brought out acid-free archival boxes of The Philippine Reporter to show how the paper was stored in the Fisher Library archives.
When Norman Garcia, Advertising Account Executive, saw Fernández open an archival box to show the newspaper’s first issue, he became nostalgic.
“That issue was made at our kitchen table,” said Garcia. “We had our stories faxed in, and we stored our files on big floppy disks. Things have changed so much since then.”
Although it is part of the University of Toronto, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is not limited to students. All members of the public can access the library's online catalogue and rare materials, free of charge.
From the history of monsters to life-like drawings of insects, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library truly has something of interest to everyone.
As Managing Editor Mila Garcia emphasized to tour members Jai, David and Daniel Avila of St. Michael’s Choir School, “If you have a project and you want to impress your teacher with material that no one else has, remember to come here!”
With over one hundred visitors daily, the iconic Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is certainly worth a visit.
And with its historical and contemporary Filipino materials, it is especially welcoming towards Filipino-Canadians who would like to explore their history in the biggest repository of rare books and manuscripts nationwide.
This article was originally published in The Philippine Reporter on September 25, 2015.