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Admitted Students Guide: Libraries and Research Support

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Learn more about our spaces and operations for Spring 2021 during the global pandemic. Students may reserve space through our study space registration form.

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, online access to full-text journal articles and ebooks, 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 Library are key resources that support graduate scholarship and teaching. The physical collections of the Brown University Library are housed in five 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.

Brown’s librarians and library staff are available to help you locate and access the resources that you need for your research, teaching, and learning. One of the items to check off your list when you start your graduate program is to meet with your Subject Librarian.

The libraries also offer a variety of group and individual spaces for research and study. Computer clusters are located in the Rockefeller, Sciences, and Orwig Music Libraries. The Vincent J. Wernig Graduate Student Reading Room, a fully-equipped graduate study center, is located on the second floor of the Rockefeller Library. All of the libraries have wifi. To accommodate the use of materials in long-term projects, study carrels can be obtained at the Rockefeller, Sciences, and Orwig Libraries, and lockers are available at the Rockefeller and Sciences 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 hardware and software, to examine and compare high-resolution digital content, and to experience audiovisual media in a setting unique on Brown’s campus. The space complements other visualization resources on campus, including the Center for Computing and Visualization’s CAVE and the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.

The Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio provides a unique and exciting intellectual hub for digitally enhanced scholarship at Brown. Expanding on the concept and functionality of the adjacent Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, infrastructure and staff in the Digital Studio facilitate both short-term and extended engagements with academic questions that benefit from the infusion of technology and new methodologies in research and learning. Open to all faculty and students, the Studio contains a soundproof audio/video recording suite, a 3D scanner, and more. 

Finding materials, print and digital
The starting point for finding material in the Library’s collections is the Library’s website. The Library's website offers 24/7 access to Brown’s ejournals, ebooks, and over 500 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, as well as direct links to online content. The Library has nearly 6 million volumes, including 1.8 million ebooks and over 70,000 ejournals.

The Center for Digital Scholarship (CDS) offers support and trainings for the Brown community on a variety of topics in digital scholarship such as data visualization, data management, text mining, text encoding and more. CDS staff can help you incorporate digital methods into your research and training. Graduate students may also have the opportunity to participate in one of the faculty-driven projects that CDS supports.

Need something that’s not owned by Brown?
Students can place requests for books from the collections of Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University of Chicago, Stanford, and Yale. In addition, both print books and journal articles (in pdf form) 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 can visit and borrow from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) library, other Rhode Island academic libraries, and both the Providence Public Library and the Providence Community Libraries. 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 instructor. The 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 Brown Library's incredible collections, 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 and social sciences. Reference services, interlibrary loans, and reserve items are available on the entrance level (Level 1), as well as a café. On Level 2, graduate students have exclusive ID-swipe access to the Vincent J. Wernig Graduate Student Reading Room.

The Sciences Library
The tallest building on campus at 14 stories, the Sciences Library, otherwise known as the "SciLi," supports research in medicine, psychology, neural science, biology, chemistry, earth, environmental, and planetary sciences, physics, engineering, computer science, and pure and applied mathematics. The Friedman Study Center, located on Level A, includes computer clusters and library services. There is a café in the lobby.

John Hay Library
Built in 1910 and renovated in 2014, the John Hay Library houses the Library’s Special Collections and Archives. The classic and grand Willis Reading Room is open to all for quiet study. The Gildor Family Special Collections reading room is open to all Brown community members as well as the public. The Hay's Special Collections materials can be requested through Aeon

The Hay’s Special Collections total more than a half-million items and include several hundred named collections of books, manuscripts, and prints, including distinctive collections in the areas of American literature and popular culture, LGBTQ writers, speculative fiction, political and diplomatic history and propaganda, the history of science, book arts, and comic books. See our complete list of special collections.

Orwig Music Library
The Virginia Baldwin Orwig Music Library houses the main teaching and research collections in music and related areas such as dance and music-related forms of theater. Its collections include LPs, books, scores, periodicals, compact discs, and DVDs and playback equipment. DVDs and CDs circulate to the entire Brown community. To check out the LPs please consult with Orwig staff for instructions on handling. Graduate students can borrow these media materials for one week. Please note, the Orwig Music Library is currently closed to students and the public, however, we hope to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.

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. 

Library Collections Annex
This high-density storage facility with a capacity of 1.5 million volumes is located approximately 4 miles from campus. Materials 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.

John Carter Brown Library
The John Carter Brown Library is the preeminent research collection in the world for the study of the Americas prior to 1825. By preserving, expanding, and providing enhanced access to its world-renowned collection, the JCB inspires scholarship, stimulates innovative and creative engagement with its materials, and connects communities around the world to the history and culture of the early Americas. The Library hosts lectures, seminars, and workshops to which graduate students in any field are welcome. The Library also offers the J.M. Stuart Fellowship (tenable for nine months) to Brown graduate students in the humanities or social sciences whose dissertation topic relates to the early history and culture of the Americas. Stuart Fellows benefit from membership in an international community of scholars in residence at the Library, dedicated office space, and privileged and sustained access to the resources of the JCB.