Special collections

poster from an Inforum exhibition of its special collections, designed by student assistant Anna StandishThe Inforum is home to the following special collections:

Subject Analysis Systems (SAS) collection

The SAS collection is a historical collection of classification schemes, subject heading lists, thesauri, and taxonomies from multiple disciplines, including information studies.


  • The Special Libraries Association began the collection in 1924, in order to fill gaps in indexing terms that the Library of Congress did not yet cover
  • The collection moved to the Bibliographic Systems Center and the School of Library Science at Case Western Reserve University, before arriving at the University of Toronto in 1976
  • For many years, the Faculty's library acted as the international clearinghouse for multilingual and English subject analysis materials
  • The collection was cited in ANSI/NISO Z.39.19-1993 and ANSI/NISO Z39.19-2003, and acknowledged in handbooks on thesaurus construction such as Thesaurus construction and use: A practical manual, 4th edition (Aitchison, Gilchrist, & Bawden, 2002)

The collection represents the rich history of subject analysis and classification theory, while reflecting the socio-political shifts in thinking about the organization of information within a variety of disciplines.


Items in the SAS collection appear in the UTL catalogue under the library "Faculty of Information (Inforum)" with the library location "Subject Analysis Systems". Many of the items in the SAS collection can be borrowed.  SAS items are in on-site storage, so request them at the Information Desk.

McLuhan-Bissell collection

The McLuhan-Bissell collection consists of 92 items donated to the Faculty of Information in 2011 by the family of past University of Toronto President, Claude T. Bissell.

  • Items in the collection include books that McLuhan presented as gifts to Bissell during their friendship
  • The collection also includes books, serials, news clippings, and other ephemeral material by or about McLuhan that Bissell collected for his home library
  • Some books contain playful inscriptions from McLuhan to Bissell


The collection has been moved from the Faculty of Information to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, which also houses the working library of Marshall McLuhan.  Consult this finding aid to learn more about the individual items contained within this collection. Information on how to access items from this collection will become available once the transfer has been completed.

C. Donald Cook Collection on Bibliographic Control (Cook collection)

The Cook Collection is of interest to researchers working in the area of the history of bibliographic control, including cataloguing, classification, and subject analysis. It is print-based, allowing researchers to trace the historical development of particular schemes and standards through fixed snapshots in time, in a way that is not yet possible with online bibliographic tools.

Items in the collection include works written, compiled, or edited by Cook, as well as copies owned by Cook (either annotated or marked with his name stamp or signature). Typically, these would be standards related to descriptive and subject cataloguing published in or before 1989.


  • The Cook Collection was donated by the family of C. Donald Cook, a professor at the Faculty from 1977 to 1989
  • Cook participated in the development of the major bibliographic standards that are still in use today, including ISBN, MARC, and the 1st and 2nd editions of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules
  • He also founded the journal, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly


    All items added to the Cook Collection appear in the UTL catalogue under the library "Faculty of Information (Inforum)" with the library location "Cook Bibliographic Control". Items in the Cook Collection are for in-house use only. Contact staff to request items from the collection.