Using the Reading Room

All researchers must register to use the collection by creating a JCB Aeon account. The registration form may be completed online in advance of a visit to the Library, or the staff can assist researchers upon arrival.   On your first visit after registering, you will be asked to provide two forms of valid photographic identification, one of which must be a government-issued identification card. One must display your permanent address. Foreign visitors must present their passports. All researchers will be photographed as part of the registration process.

Placing Requests

Requests to reserve materials for consultation in the Reading Room may be placed online through the Aeon system. Requests may be placed in advance or while in the Library. Please use the “Schedule Retrieval” option in Aeon to indicate when you plan to use the material. We ask that you limit your requests to no more than five at a time. You can use the “Keep for My Review” option to bookmark additional requests, and move them into active requests at a later time. If you have any questions about using Aeon, or about the JCB policies, please contact us at [email protected].

Materials are paged at 8:30 a.m., 11:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. These materials will be available at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. respectively. 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.

Using Rare Books

All researchers must abide by our Reading Room regulations. Lockers are available to store personal belongings and restricted items.


  • Please wash your hands with soap and water before handling any material.
  • Please silence cell phones while in the Library. Do not take or make calls in the Reading Room.
  • Rare materials must not be removed from the Reading Room.
  • Do not leave library materials unattended at any time. Please return materials to the Reading Room supervisor if you must leave the reading table for any reason.
  • 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 unbound materials flat on the table and bound materials 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.
  • 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.
  • Only one researcher may use their request at a time. If researchers would like to see material together, schedule a Collaboration Session by emailing [email protected].
  • If a requested book has unopened pages, please return it to the Reading Room supervisor. Do not attempt to cut pages.

Restricted Items

  • To protect our collection, the following items are prohibited from the Reading Room:
    • Enclosed cases of any kind
    • Portfolios
    • Pens or any other writing implements except for pencils, which are provided. Please use provided pencils.
  • All personal belongings—including outerwear, bags, backpacks, briefcases, purses, laptop cases, etc.
  • Please keep notes and personal research material to a minimum. All personal items, including notebooks and personal books, are subject to inspection by the Reading Room supervisor.
  • Food and drink are prohibited from the Reading Room and reference areas of the Library.

Maps and Broadsides

  • Maps and broadsides should be kept in their protective mylar sleeves at all times. Exceptions can be made at the discretion of the reading room staff.
  • Do not allow items to hang off of the table.
  • Material must be kept flat at all times. Do not bend for any reason.
  • Please ask for assistance with oversize items.

Digital Photography Policy

The John Carter Brown Library recognizes that taking reference photographs for personal use can be an important research strategy. In order to protect the Library’s rare materials and to minimize distractions to other researchers, please observe the following policies:

  • Bring only your camera or phone for taking photographs into the Reading Room. All bags, cases, and straps should be stored in the lockers. Tripods and camera stands are not permitted.
  • Turn off the flash and silence any noise on your camera or phone.
  • Please limit photographing to no more than 10 images at a time. Our reading tables can become quite crowded, especially during busy research periods.  Standing to take photographs in close quarters can be distracting to other researchers.  The Library has designated times—currently from noon to 1 p.m. on weekdays—during which more extensive photography may be undertaken. Should you require additional time or special arrangements for personal photography, please consult with the Reading Room Supervisor.
  • Always handle material with the utmost care. All items must remain on the table and books must be supported by the book cradles provided. Pages should be held open using book weights.Never force material into any position in order to obtain a photograph. Please ask for assistance with tightly bound materials, or with items containing fold-outs. The library staff may determine that some material is too fragile to be photographed.

The Library offers a variety of digital imaging services, detailed on our website.

Image Use Policy

Images obtained through personal photography may be used in accordance with our Open Access policy under the conditions of our Creative Commons agreement.


We do not photocopy rare books. Digital images may be ordered from the Library’s imaging department; please see the Reading Room supervisor for information about placing an image 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.

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