The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, located on the third floor of the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library, is a unique non-circulating research collection of over 72,000 items of science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction, as well as magic realism, experimental writing and some materials in ‘fringe’ areas such as parapsychology, UFOs, Atlantean legends etc.
The Collection hosts some of the world’s largest collections of science fiction and fantasy art, pulp magazines, graphic novels and fanzines. For the more academically inclined, the Collection holds vast numbers of non-fiction critical works relating to science fiction and fantasy, science fiction and fantasy art books, subject reference tools, limited editions, out-pf-print materials, original manuscripts, correspondence, critical, biographical and bibliographical materials and audiovisual and multimedia materials. Reading materials are available to the public on a limited basis, but only in the Collection’s public reading rooms. Artwork is often displayed during frequent public events, exhibits and book launches.
The history of the Merril Collection dates back to August 10, 1970, when an agreement was signed between legendary Canadian science fiction author and editor Judith Merril and the Board of the Toronto Public Library. In this agreement Judith Merril donated to the Toronto Public Library her collection of science fiction, fantasy, and associated non-fiction which contained around 5,000 items. This collection was named The Spaced Out Library.The Spaced Out Library was established as a reference collection of “contemporary speculative literature, including science fiction, certain aspects of fantasy fiction, satire, surrealist, and other speculative, future oriented, and conceptually experimental work, whether in fiction, poetry, drama, essay, or other forms as well as critical and bibliographic materials relating to science fiction and the associated areas of contemporary speculative writing” serving both scholars and the general public.
In 1990 the collection was officially renamed The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy. Merril herself passed away in 1997.