Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the John Carter Brown Library?

The library is located on the main green of Brown University near the intersection of Brown and George streets in Providence, Rhode Island.

What is the difference between the John Carter Brown Library and the John Hay Library?

The John Carter Brown Library, on the Main Green of Brown University, is an independently administered and funded center for advanced research in history and the humanities, founded in 1846 and located at Brown University since 1901. The library collects primary historical sources pertaining to North and South America before ca. 1825.

The John Hay Library holds the Special Collections of the Brown University Libraries, as well as the University archives. The John Hay Library is on the corner of Prospect and College Street, across College Street from the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Library.

Is anyone allowed into the library?

You are welcome to enter to look at the Reading Room and the exhibition cases in the Reading Room. Only registered researchers may use the tables in the Reading Room.

Who may request books?

The use of the reading room tables is reserved for researchers using our materials. The holdings of the library are available to scholars engaged in productive research for whom access to the collection is essential for the advancement of their work. To use the collection you must register and submit two forms of photographic identification. Students and unaffiliated researchers must also provide written endorsement of their project from an academic faculty member. 

How do I know what is in the collection?

The books of the John Carter Brown Library are included in the Brown University online catalog, JOSIAH. You can limit searching within JOSIAH to the John Carter Brown Library. Eighty-five to 90% of our holdings are in JOSIAH, as are separately-held maps. Prints, codices, manuscript, and archival materials are NOT in JOSIAH. These materials and a small portion of the printed book collection (about 10 to 15%), are accessible only through the library’s onsite card catalogs and print resources.

How do I request to see a book?

After you have registered to be a researcher, you may fill out a call slip. Books are paged three times a day, 8:00 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. There is no paging on Saturdays. Your books are stored in a locked cabinet after they are paged. You may look at only one book at a time, you must ask the staff member at the front desk for the book, and he/she will bring it for you after you put away everything but a notebook, pencil, and/or laptop.

Am I eligible to apply for a Fellowship?

Please see the Fellowship section of this website.

I would like to use an image from the collection in a book or article I am publishing. What do I do?

If you find an image you would like to use in a publication, you may request a copy to be made. See Image Services & Permissions. There you can find information on requesting images and permission to publish.