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About the collection

This collection features over 16,000 print and audiovisual materials for adults, children, and teens about the Black and Caribbean historical and cultural experience – with a special emphasis on Canadian content. Material covers history, social science, and the contributions and achievements of Blacks in Canada. The collection also includes a small selection of titles about world figures in Black history and culture.

Recognized as one of the most significant Black and Caribbean heritage collections in Canada, it is an invaluable resource for the Black and Caribbean community as well as students and researchers.

Formats available include:

The collection is available at four branches across the city:

Smaller collections identified with a Black and Caribbean Heritage label may also be found at some other branches.

Who is Rita Cox?

Recognized as a Canadian icon, community activist and admired leader in the Black and Caribbean community, Dr. Rita Cox joined Toronto Public Library as a children's librarian in 1960. In 1974, she became the head of Parkdale Branch, where she remained until her retirement in 1995.

During her tenure, Dr. Cox launched literacy programs and other initiatives that promoted multiculturalism and literacy throughout Toronto. Her work touched the lives of the entire community, particularly children and newcomers.

In 1973, Dr. Cox pioneered the Black Heritage and West Indian Resource Collection, which was renamed the Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection in 1998. It soon became one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind in Canada. Today, it continues to be a source of pride in the community.

Dr. Cox is a renowned storyteller who has enchanted and entertained audiences across North America, in Europe, Brazil and the Caribbean. She has also maintained the Library's storytelling legacy by training a whole new generation of storytellers, many of whom are current library staff.

She has won numerous awards, including the 1996 Canadian Library Association Public Service Award and the Black Achievement Award. In 1997, Dr. Cox was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for her outstanding work in storytelling and literacy. She is also the recipient of honourary degrees from York and Wilfrid Laurier universities.

The Rita Cox Endowment Fund

To ensure the enhancement and growth of the Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection, the Rita Cox Endowment Fund was established. For information on contributing to the Endowment, please contact the Toronto Public Library Foundation at (416) 393-7123.