While service to scholars engaged in historical research is an essential part of the mission of the John Carter Brown Library, our most fundamental responsibility is to preserve and protect the valuable materials in our care.  We require your assistance in ensuring that the John Carter Brown Library collection will be available to future scholars.

All researchers must register to use the collection. Two forms of valid photographic identification are required, one of which must be a government-issued identification card. Foreign visitors must present their passports.  Students and independent researchers must present a letter of reference from an established scholar in the field or from a supervising faculty member. 

By signing a registration form, researchers agree to adhere to the Library’s rules of use.

Researchers must sign in at the front desk and sign out when leaving for the day.

All personal belongings—including outerwear, bags, backpacks, briefcases, purses, laptop cases, parcels, etc.—must be left in the storage area adjacent to the card catalogue room.  Lockers are available for your use.  Please store belongings before coming to the reading tables.

Only material essential to research may be used in the Reading Room.  Please keep notes and personal research material to a minimum.  Electrical outlets are available for laptop computers.  All personal research material, including notebooks and personal books, is subject to inspection by the Reading Room supervisor.

To protect our collection, the following items are prohibited from the Reading Room:

  • Enclosed cases of any kind
  • Portfolios
  • Envelopes
  • Cameras and personal scanners
  • Pens or any other writing implements except for pencils. Pencils are provided.

Materials are paged at 8 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. We do not page on Saturday, so materials must be requested in advance.  A maximum of five rare items may be on reserve for each researcher.  Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the Reading Room staff.

Rare Book Use

Rare materials may be used only in the Reading Room.  Do not leave library materials unattended at any time.  Please return materials to the Reading Room supervisor if you are called away from the table for any reason.

Researchers may view only one rare book at a time, except when using multivolume sets or when comparing texts.  Researchers using manuscript collections may view only one document box at a time, and must remove only one folder at a time from the document box. Do not rearrange items.

Handle materials as little as possible and with clean, dry hands.  Book rests and weights are available to support reading materials and to hold pages open with the least amount of handling.  Keep materials flat on the table or in a book rest at all times.

Do not lean on, write upon, mark, or otherwise alter or mishandle materials.  Do not place books, papers, or other objects on top of library materials—use the book weights provided to hold pages open.  Acid-free bookmarks are available for marking pages; please do not place any other objects in our materials.

Please ask for assistance if an item is difficult to handle.  Foldout maps and illustrations should be opened by a member of the staff.  Please bring any damaged items to our attention so that we can arrange for repairs.

If a requested book has unopened pages, please return it to the Reading Room supervisor.  Do not attempt to cut pages.

Food or drink may not be brought into the Reading Room or reference areas of the Library.  Chewing gum or smoking is not permitted in the Library. 

Please silence cell phones while in the Library.  Do not take or make calls in the Reading Room.

Please note:  The Reading Room is monitored by video camera.


We do not photocopy rare books. Reproductions—microfilm, digital images, photographic prints—may be ordered from the Library’s imaging department; please see the Reading Room supervisor for information about placing an image or microfilm order.  We will photocopy reference material only when it is not available elsewhere in the University library system.  Requests for photocopies of manuscript material will be considered at the discretion of the Reference Librarian.  Fragile items will not be photocopied.  Researchers are not permitted to copy JCB materials themselves.

Digital Photography

Personal photography is not permitted in the Reading Room. Digital images may be ordered from the Library’s imaging department.

It is possible for researchers to arrange to take a limited number of personal reference photographs of items from the collection.  To protect our materials and prevent disruptions in the Reading Room, staff supervision and a separate area must be arranged. Permission to take photographs will be granted at the discretion of the Reference Librarian and the Curator responsible for the specific material and dependent upon available staff and space.  Researchers will not be permitted to photograph fragile items or items that are available through our online resources.  Flash photography may not be used.

Image Use Policy

The Library assumes that all images obtained through our services or by personal photography are for personal research use only.  Permission to reproduce images from our collection in any format must be requested in writing, and may incur a use fee.  For more information, please request a fee schedule from the Reading Room supervisor.