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Admitted Students Guide: Libraries and Information Resources

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Brown students have a wealth of information at their disposal in all shapes and forms—from traditional books and journals to original manuscripts and photographs, full-text databases, digital images, data sets and streaming multimedia.  Covering roughly 80 core areas and a wealth of interdisciplinary subjects, the materials and services of the Brown University Libraries are a key resource that support graduate scholarship and teaching.

Library Quick Links

The physical collections of the Brown University Library are housed in five on-campus buildings as well as the nearby Library Collections Annex. In addition, the collections of the John Carter Brown Library, an independent research institution located on the Brown campus but not affiliated with the University Library, are available to students.

The libraries also offer a variety of group and individual spaces for research and study.  Computer clusters are located in the Rockefeller and Sciences libraries; a cluster for the exclusive use of graduate students is located on the second floor of the Rockefeller Library. All of the libraries accommodate wireless technology and have direct network connections for laptops. To accommodate the use of materials in long-term projects, study carrels can be obtained at the Rockefeller, Science, and Orwig Libraries, and lockers are available at the Rockefeller and Science Libraries.

Brown University Library offers state-of-the-art data visualization facilities for graduate students in the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL).  The DSL enables scholars across the disciplines to engage with research data using advanced visualization software, to examine and compare high-resolution digital content, and to experience audiovisual media in a setting unique on Brown’s campus. The Lab complements other visualization resources on campus, including the Center for Computing and Visualization’s CAVE and the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.

Finding materials, print and digital
The starting point for finding material in the Library’s collections is the Library’s website. The website offers an array of search tools and links for 24/7 access to Brown’s ejournals, ebooks, and over 300 research databases. If connecting from off-campus, be sure to check the off-campus login options. Josiah, the Library’s online catalog, provides the call number and stack location for the books, DVDs and other tangible materials in the collections.  The library’s 600,000 ebooks and 60,000 ejournals can also be found through Josiah.

Brown has a growing number of digital collections for teaching and scholarship; these are based on the Library’s unique special collections as well as faculty projects. See a list of projects at the Center for Digital Scholarship’s website.

Brown University Libraries can also be accessed through a mobile website; the catalog, hours, locations, news, computer availability, and contact information are all available. Search for “MoBUL” or “Brown Library” on the iPhone, Android or Blackberry. Other smartphones can download the application by going to on the phone’s Internet browser.

Need something that’s not owned by Brown?
In addition to the extensive resources available from the Brown University Library, students can place requests for books from the collections of Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Harvard, University of Chicago and Yale.  In addition, materials from several thousand research libraries worldwide are available through interlibrary loan. Use easyBorrow to request books that Brown does not have or that are checked out from the Library’s collection.

Brown graduate students also can visit and borrow from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) library and other Rhode Island academic libraries (URI Library).  And if you need an article from a journal that Brown does not subscribe to, use the Illiad system to request a pdf copy.

Library staff can help you work more effectively as a student, scholar, and teaching assistant. The Library’s Course Reserves via Online Course Reserves Access (OCRA) system is used to put text, audio, and video materials on reserve for classes.  Please see the staff in any of the libraries for assistance with a wide range of library services, or contact the library via chat on the Library’s website.

Subject librarians are available for individualized research consultations to help you take full advantage of the rich collections available, to assist in formulating the most effective strategy for identifying and locating materials, and to help with other library and information needs. Find your subject librarian online.


John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library
The John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, otherwise known as “the Rock,” is the primary teaching and research library for the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. Reference services, interlibrary loans, and reserve items are available on the entrance level (Level 1). The graduate student computer cluster on Level 2 is a refuge of peace and quiet in the midst of what can be a very busy place. Please see the Library website for hours and more information about the Rock.

The Sciences Library
The tallest building on campus at 14 stories, the Sciences Library (SciLi) supports research in medicine, psychology, neural science, environmental science, biology, chemistry, geology, physics, engineering, computer science, and mathematics. The Friedman Study Center, located on Levels A, Lobby, and Mezzanine of the SciLi, includes computer clusters, library services, and popular DVDs for overnight check-out.  Graduate students may check out individual quiet study rooms for a day.  For information about hours of operation, please visit the Sciences Library website.

John Hay Library
Built in 1910, the recently renovated John Hay Library houses the Library’s special collections. Material in the Hay is not available for circulation, but the stately reading room, John Hay Library returned to it's original grandeur, is now open to the entire Brown community for study and research during service hours. The Hay’s collections total more than a half-million items and include several hundred named collections of books, manuscripts, and prints. The Library owns a number of world-renowned collections including those in American literature and popular culture, political and diplomatic history, the history of science, book arts and graphics. For a complete list of special collections, see For hours and more information, please visit the Hay Library website.

Orwig Music Library
The Virginia Baldwin Orwig Music Library houses the general music collection on campus: books, scores, periodicals, compact discs, and DVDs. DVDs and CDs circulate to faculty and graduate students only; graduate students can borrow these materials for one week. Orwig includes ample study space convenient to East campus residents. For hours and more information about the Orwig Library website.

The Annmary Brown Memorial
This unique building is both a museum and a mausoleum, and its distinguishing architectural features include the imposing bronze doors featuring allegorical representations of Art and Learning. The memorial exhibits American and European paintings from the 17th through the 20th centuries, a collection of swords, and personal effects of its founder, General Rush C. Hawkins, and of the Brown family. For more information, please visit the Annmary Brown Memorial website.

Library Collections Annex
This high-density storage facility with a capacity of 1.5 million volumes is located approximately 4 miles from campus. Material shelved at the Annex can be requested using Josiah (the Library’s online catalog) for retrieval and use on campus. Journal articles from titles shelved at the Annex can be scanned and delivered electronically to your desktop. For more information, please visit the Library Collections Annex website.

John Carter Brown Library
An independently administered and funded center for advanced research in history and the humanities, the John Carter Brown Library (JCB) houses an internationally renowned collection of primary historical materials pertaining to the Americas, both North and South, before 1825 and hosts lectures, seminars, and workshops to which graduate students in any field are welcome. For more information about collections and programs, please see the JCB website.

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