Welcome to the Osborne Collection!
The Osborne Collection is a research and reference collection of early and modern children’s books. There are nearly 100,000 items in Osborne, ranging from 1 14th-century manuscript of Aesop’s Fables on vellum (animal skin) through early primers and Puritan books, Victorian fantasies, Edwardian animal tales, and notable modern books, together with book-related art, archives, ephemera and novelties.
Though our books are kept onsite at Osborne, we are able to share them abroad through the digital materials of Toronto Public Library, accessed through the TPL online catalogue. Every month approximately one hundred Osborne titles are added, and access is simple – just find the title you want to see in the Toronto Public Library catalogue and click on “Access pdf file.” The book will open, showing the complete text, page by page, and in full colour. To date, several entire subject classifications have been digitized: Aesop’s tales, Myths, and Fairy Tales.
Here are the librarians:
Martha Scott was educated at McGill University and took her library degree at the University of Toronto’s iSchool. Since 1999 Martha has been a reference librarian at the Osborne Collection, where she has curated many beautiful exhibits, including “When Cinderella Went to the Ball,” for which she wrote an exhibit catalogue that is both scholarly and entertaining. As I write, a very fine exhibit Martha co-curated with Nicole Dawkins is being held over at the Toronto Reference Library: “Once Upon a Time: Fairy tales From the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books“ has been extended by popular request, and is being visited by an average of four hundred visitors each week!
Here is a blog Martha wrote about the exhibit, posted by Nicole:
Martha particularly enjoys sharing her interest and enthusiasm for early children’s literature with students and in talks for groups, and writes
Hi, my name is Martha. It would be a pleasure to assist you with any questions you may have pertaining to books and other fairy-tale related materials at the Osborne Collection!
Martha can be reached at
Leslie McGrath is the Senior Department Head of the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, where she has worked since 1995! Leslie attended the University of Toronto and has a Ph.D. from the iSchool, in the Collaborative program in Book History and Print Culture. Leslie has curated exhibits of Osborne Canadiana, book illustration and movable books, for which she prepared a published catalogue, This Magical Book: Movable Books for Children, 1771-2001. One of Leslie’s particular interest is shoes in children’s books, as shown in a recent blog:
Leslie is an instructor of the course “Rare Books and Manuscripts” at the University of Toronto’s iSchool.
I am so very pleased to welcome visitors to the Digital Collection of Osborne materials, and I would be very happy to help with questions about our holdings at Osborne.
Leslie can be reached at
We welcome contributions of articles from new and established scholars in the field of children’s literature. Please contact Leslie McGrath, firstname.lastname@example.org for details.