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University Libraries

University Library

The Brown University Library is central to Brown’s teaching and research mission. With a scholarly collection of approximately 7 million volumes, the University Library is one of the largest academic libraries in New England. Its holdings include nearly 3 million ebooks, more than 250,000 ejournals, and over 500 research databases; special collections include some 400,000 monographs, 1.5 million archival files and records, 500,000 pieces of sheet music, and 60,000 each of broadsides, photographs, and prints. In addition, Brown faculty and students may borrow from the collections of Ivy Plus libraries (approximately 90 million titles) as well as obtain materials from libraries around the globe through interlibrary loan. 

Library Experts

Through your Brown University Library, Brown students, faculty, and staff have access to library experts, who are available to help you take full advantage of the Library's incredible collections, formulate effective strategies for identifying and locating materials, and more. Through the Library website, you can ask research questions through chat, schedule a consultation directly with a library expert, and more. Support is also available by email at for topics related to special collections and at for all other questions.


The Library offers an array of workshops on many different scholarly skills, tools, and methods that are popular with students and faculty. Learn more about workshops offered by the Center for Digital Scholarship below. View the full calendar of workshops offered by experts throughout the Library.


Guides and videos with information about how to use the Library are available online, including how to conduct various aspects of research and more.

Library Catalog

The University Library’s extensive collections can be searched through BruKnow, Brown’s simple and powerful search tool for finding books, ebooks, articles, journals, videos, digital media, and more. BruKnow can be accessed through the Library’s website anytime, anywhere, on any device. (If connecting from off-campus, be sure to check the off-campus login options.)  BruKnow provides the call number and stack location for physical materials that can be borrowed or used on-site, as well as direct links to online content. BruKnow provides access to the majority of the Library’s collections, but some specialized resources must be accessed via the A-Z Databases list

Borrowing Materials Beyond Brown

Brown students are able to enter, borrow, and place requests for books from our Ivy Plus partners. In addition, both print books and journal articles (in pdf form) from several thousand research libraries worldwide are available through interlibrary loan. Learn more about borrowing from other institutions.

Course Reserves

The Course Reserves portal is used to place text, audio, and video materials on reserve for classes. Anything placed on reserve will also be accessible to students in Canvas. Please see the staff in any of the libraries for assistance, contact the Library via chat, or email for more information.  

Special Collections

The John Hay Library is home to Brown University’s remarkable collections of rare books, manuscripts, and archival material ranging from Babylonian clay tablets and Egyptian papyri to current-day books, manuscripts, and ephemera. The John Hay’s collecting policy is organized around seven broad areas of distinctive strength and three integrative themes in the sciences —  including American literature and popular culture, LGBTQ writers, speculative fiction, political and diplomatic history and propaganda, health and medicine, the history of mathematics, and military and society. The recently established  Voices of Mass Incarceration in the United States collecting focus gathers and provides access to original material in all formats that document the lived experiences of incarcerated individuals in the U.S. as well as those affected by the American prison system. See our selective list of special collections.

The John Hay Library is also a leader in primary source pedagogy, and large numbers of Brown students and faculty engage with the John Hay as a site of interdisciplinary exploration and active teaching, learning, and research using special collections. Many graduate students conduct their dissertation research using special collections. Programs, exhibitions, and collection development at the John Hay is continually transformed by and with Brown’s vibrant intellectual community.

Digital Scholarship

The Center for Digital Scholarship (CDS), the University’s digital scholarship hub, provides inspiration, expertise, services, and teaching in digital scholarship methodologies, project development, and publication to Brown faculty, staff, and students. Graduate students also have opportunities to collaborate with CDS staff on faculty-driven digital projects and publications via proctorships or employment. (See “Scholars in the Library” below for more information.)

Doctoral Certificate in Digital Humanities

CDS and the Cogut Institute for the Humanities are pleased to partner together to offer the Doctoral Certificate in Digital Humanities, which provides doctoral students with a foundation in digital methods and skills for their research, as well as an understanding of the broader theoretical questions that digital approaches to scholarship offer. The certificate is aimed at Ph.D. students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, though doctoral students from all disciplines are welcome to apply. 

Instruction and Consultations

CDS is here to help students, faculty, and scholars across the campus understand and use digital methodologies in research and scholarship. CDS staff teach workshops, help design class digital projects, support and teach digital humanities courses, and offer consulting services. The workshops and skills we teach are listed below. 


CDS offers workshops on data, tools, and methods. Each summer, we offer a two-week digital humanities workshop series. Below are a few examples of the content of our workshops:

  • Writing Python Scripts with ChatGPT for Beginning Programmers
  • Creating Oral Histories with TheirStory
  • Data management and data sharing
  • Introduction to data visualization
  • Data visualization with Excel
  • Geographic and spatial tools
  • Thinking critically about data
  • Text analysis 
  • End to end topic modeling


Have a digital scholarship project you’d like help with? Wondering about how digital tools might complement other aspects of your research project? CDS staff are available to meet with you and discuss your ideas to help you get started in the field of digital scholarship. Schedule a consultation by emailing

Brown University Digital Publications

Brown University Digital Publications — a collaboration between the University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, generously launched with support from the Mellon Foundation with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities — creates exciting new conditions for the production and sharing of knowledge. Widely recognized as accessible, intentional, and inclusive, Brown’s novel, university-based approach to digital content development is helping to set the standards for the future of scholarship in the digital age.

Health and Biomedical Library Services

Health and Biomedical Library Services offers a variety of support and resources to help you with your research. Services include help with literature reviews, publishing, reference management, locating and managing grant-related publications, public access compliance, writing data management and sharing plans, using the Brown Digital Repository (BDR), and more. To find out more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact our team at For upcoming workshops, see the Brown Library calendar.

Scholars in the Library

Your Brown University Library offers numerous opportunities for students, faculty, and visiting scholars to expand their scholarly and professional skills through direct engagement with collections and programs, currently including the Interdisciplinary Opportunities in the Humanities and Social Sciences fellowship program and a proctorship with Brown University Digital Publications. Employment opportunities for students are also periodically available in a range of areas including specialized language cataloging, archival work, and digital projects.

University Library Facilities

The Brown University Library system consists of six campus locations as well as the nearby Library Collections Annex, an off-campus high-density storage facility with a shelving capacity of 1.5 million volumes. The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library houses collections for the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. It is also home to the Center for Digital Scholarship, a hub of leading-edge digital projects including Brown University Digital Publications. Brown’s world-renowned special collections of rare books, manuscripts, archives, and ephemera are housed in the John Hay Library and the Library Annex. A Carnegie library that is open to the public, the John Hay Library offers extensive exhibition space, promoting engagement with Brown’s unique holdings for students, faculty, and the broader community. The Sciences Library supports research in the STEM fields and includes a geospatial and social sciences data center. The Virginia M. Orwig Music Library consolidates Brown’s extensive music materials and is home to the Walter Neiman ‘46 Archive of Sound Recordings as well as more than 24,000 musical scores. The Champlin Memorial Library, located in The Warren Alpert Medical School,  provides digital resources and infrastructure to medical students and faculty. The Annmary Brown Memorial is a unique mausoleum, museum, and memorial. The Library Collections Annex provides high-density, off-campus storage for the Library’s scholarly and special collections.

John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library

The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, known as “the Rock,” is the primary teaching and research library for the humanities and social sciences. Reference services, interlibrary loans, and course reserve items are available at the circulation desk on Level 1. The Rock provides a variety of study spaces, many of which can be reserved by students, to suit different work styles, including open, comfortable seating as well as group study rooms in the Sorensen Family Reading Room and the Laura and David Finn Reading Room on Level 1. The Alfred and Laura Hecker Center for Library Technology, a state-of-the-art classroom for library instruction, is also located on Level 1. The Racial Justice Research Center and the graduate student-only Vincent J. Wernig Graduate Student Reading Room are located on Level 2. The “absolute quiet” study room is on Level A. Individual study carrels are located throughout the building. East Asian collections, located on Level 3, include the Gardner Collection and the traditionally styled Gardner Room, which consists of mostly historical Chinese material from the Ch’ing Dynasty (1644–1912). A small café in the lobby of the Rock provides a convenient place for a study break or to meet informally with friends and colleagues.

Digital Scholarship at the Rock

State-of-the-art data visualization facilities are available in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL). The DSL enables scholars across 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 suitably equipped campus space.

The Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio provides a unique and exciting intellectual hub for digitally enhanced scholarship at Brown. 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 also contains a soundproof audio/video recording suite.

John Hay Library

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 via appointment. The John Hay's special collections materials can be requested online with an account in the request system, Aeon. The John Hay is also available as a primary source laboratory for instructors and students. It hosts over 150 class sessions from nearly all Brown departments each year, and staff are available to teach sessions and to help graduate students and faculty learn about researching and teaching with primary sources. 

Sciences Library

The tallest building on campus at 14 stories, the Sciences Library, known as the "SciLi," holds print materials 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. 


The 11th floor is home to the GeoData@SciLi space, a consultation and workspace devoted to geospatial data and research that's part of the Center for Library Exploration and Research (CLEAR). GeoData@SciLi offers research consultations on finding, accessing, processing, and using geospatial, demographic, and socio-economic data; workshops; access to datasets purchased by the Library; computer terminals for accessing social sciences data resources; and expert support for finding and studying the Library’s collection of over 100,000 maps.

Virginia Baldwin 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. Media materials (CDs, DVDs, LPs) circulate to all members of the Brown community, and the Music Library has playback equipment for a number of legacy formats including CD, DVD, LP, and Blu-Ray. Brown students can borrow media materials for one week.

Champlin Memorial Medical Library

Located within The Warren Alpert Medical School at 222 Richmond Street, the Champlin Memorial Library is open 24/7 to medical students. Though it contains no on-site physical collections, online access to the Library's extensive collection of electronic journals, textbooks, and databases is fully available with a Brown ID via Core Health Sciences Resources. Medical faculty and staff may use the Champlin Library while in the medical school building during business hours; after-hours access is restricted to medical students.

The Annmary Brown Memorial (currently closed for renovation)

The unique Annmary Brown Memorial, completed in 1907, is a museum, mausoleum, and memorial. Designed by architect Norman Isham, its bronze doors feature symbolic representations of Art and Learning, signaling to visitors the many treasures to explore and the array of cultural arts programming throughout the year. On exhibit are paintings from the collection of Annmary Brown and her husband, General Rush Hawkins, and special collections items from the John Hay Library. 

Library Collections Annex

The Library Collections Annex, a high-density storage facility with a capacity of 1.5 million volumes, is located approximately four miles from campus. Materials shelved at the Annex can be requested using BruKnow, the Library’s online catalog, for retrieval and use on campus. Journal articles from titles shelved at the Annex can be scanned and delivered to you electronically.

Reserving Spaces

The Library offers a variety of spaces for research, teaching, and study for groups and individuals. Students can reserve group study rooms at the Rockefeller and Sciences Libraries.

Graduate TAs may also access a limited number of small study/collaboration rooms to conduct online sections. Registration is required through 25Live

Carrels and Lockers

To accommodate the use of materials in long-term projects, graduate and medical students plus undergraduates writing theses can apply to reserve study carrels at the Rockefeller and Orwig Libraries by inquiring at the respective buildings’ circulation desk. Faculty members can also request a carrel at Orwig. The carrels at the Sciences Library are available to anyone on a first-come, first-served basis.

Lockers located in the stacks at the Rockefeller Library are available to all carrel-holding graduate and medical students. Combination lockers are also available in the Wernig Graduate Student Reading Room at the Rock. All lockers are issued at the Rockefeller Library circulation desk. Lockers can be renewed and kept for as long as the student is matriculated at Brown.

John Carter Brown Library

The John Carter Brown Library, an independently administered and funded center for advanced research in history and the humanities, is also located on the Brown campus, right on the main green, and is home to one of the world’s outstanding collections of printed books and other materials related to the early Americas. The JCB's collection represents more than 65,000 rare books, maps, and manuscripts created in more than two hundred languages spanning more than three centuries. A Welcome and Access plan initiated in 2021 included the recent renovation of the historic building’s west entrance, and a new programming plan. A new digital platform for open access to the collections is set to launch in the spring of 2023.

The JCB hosts workshops and other events to which graduate students in any field are welcome. The JCB also offers a suite of fellowships for research support including the J.M. Stuart Fellowship (tenable for nine months) exclusively for Brown graduate students in the humanities or social sciences whose dissertation topic relates to the early history and culture of the Americas.


The Library works closely with Student Accessibility Services to ensure equitable access to library resources and services. . The main entrances to the Rockefeller,Sciences, and Orwig Libraries are wheelchair accessible. The John Hay Library’s accessible entrance is located on the north side of the building. The service desks in the libraries can arrange to have materials retrieved from the stacks and provide other special services. The Sciences Library has a computer workstation with magnification and reading software for the vision impaired that can be accessed through Student Accessibility Services.

Accessible Study Rooms at the Rock and SciLi

There are three study rooms available at the Rockefeller Library (rooms 327, 328, and 329) for students who need a quiet space with reduced distractions. Each room can be used by one person at a time, and can be booked for two hours per day, with access available during open building hours. SAS students may book a room up to two times per week.

Bookings for SAS Library Study Rooms are made through the Brown University Library and are available for registered SAS students only. For problems or questions about the reservation system, please call the SAS office at (401) 863-9588 during weekday business hours Monday - Friday 8:30am - 5pm.

SAS students may also access room A-17 in the Sciences Library on a first-come, first-served basis. We ask that students only utilize that room for two hour periods per day, maximum twice per week.


We encourage your feedback about any aspect of Library services, resources, and facilities. Feedback can be made through this anonymous form, which has an option for inputting your contact information, or you can email

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