The Media Commons Archives is a department of the University of Toronto Libraries established to acquire, administer, preserve and make available Canadian and international contemporary culture and history through media-based archives, microforms and commercially available audiovisual productions. The role of audio-visual documents in the transmission of knowledge at every level has been long established, and interest in and usage of these resources in numerous fields continues to gain momentum.
The mandate of Media Commons Archives is to support the curriculum of and research in the various disciplines taught at the University of Toronto. It serves primarily the faculty, staff, students and alumni, but the general public as well.
The Archives acquires, preserves and makes available archival and special collection materials of regional, national and international significance relating to the audio-visual and media communities and popular culture. This includes historical and contemporary film/video production, radio and television advertising, photojournalism, broadcasting, photographic arts, and popular music production.
Traditionally the centre of Canada’s film and broadcast companies, music recording labels and journalism, Toronto hosts one of the world’s largest entertainment and educational media communities in North America. For this reason alone, the use and study of media at the nation’s largest university is essential. Canadian production is undergoing an enormous evolution, and it is essential to provide a centre to house, preserve and promote the products of these creators.
1974 –The AV Library was established as a branch of the Media Centre
1978 – The AV Library moved to Sigmund Samuel Library Building
1992 – The AV Library officially came under the administration of the Central Library
2002 – The AV Library merged with Microtext Department and moved into the 3rd floor of Robarts Library
2003 – The AV Library/Microtext Department changed its name to Media Commons, and added a Media Archives section
2006 – The Media Commons cold vault, located in Woodsworth College Residence building, was officially commissioned
2019 – The Media Commons Lending/Microtext Library and the Media Commons Archives were split into two separate departments.
Media Commons Archives is currently the largest repository for both archival and contemporary audio-visual research resources in any Canadian university.
The department underwent extensive renovations and enlargement of its Robarts Library premises in 2010. The new amenities included the main reading room, public browsing areas, a theatre/classroom, three screening rooms/classrooms, a videoconferencing room, an archival reading/viewing room, stack areas, and staff offices. There is also a playback digitization suite with rare equipment that ensures ongoing access to legacy AV formats, and a dedicated, state-of-the-art, cold-storage vault on the campus.