Snapshots of Brown: Libraries


It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  While that may be true, there is also a lot of value in the story behind the picture.  Let Snapshots of Brown with Corrine Szczesny introduce you to the majestic college campus and deep-rooted traditions of Brown University.

You will most likely be spending a lot of time at the library during your four years of college.  In my opinion, there is nothing worse than a poorly organized and out-of-date campus library.  Luckily, you cannot say that about the libraries at Brown.  The Brown University library system holds approximately 7 million items.  This includes maps, sheet music, manuscripts, books, audio resources, and periodicals.  This impressive number does not even include the resources available online.

The first book in the Brown library collection was a gift from its first president, Rev. James Manning.  Since then, thousands of books and other resources have been donated or purchased.  This year alone the library system will gain about 70,000 new items.

The John Carter Brown Library, built in 1904, is the oldest of Brown’s libraries.  Located on the Main Green, the John Carter Brown Library is home to a collection of rare books and maps relating to the discovery, settlement, and development of both North and South America.  This library is mainly used for advanced research in the humanities.  The John Hay Library, built in 1910, houses rare books and manuscripts, along with the university’s special collections and archives, and is currently being renovated.  The Hay served as the main library until the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library was built in 1964.  The Rock is Brown’s primary humanities, social sciences, and fine arts library.  Along with the Sciences Library, it is one of the most frequently visited libraries on campus.  The SciLi was built in 1971 and houses science and medical books.  This 14 story building can be seen from any vantage point in the Providence area.  The Orwig Music Library, which was built in 1850, was acquired by the university in 1969.  Orwig houses music books, scores, periodicals, sound recordings, and videotapes.

There are several lesser known libraries on campus, including the Annmary Brown Memorial, which houses exhibits of European and American paintings.  There is also the Art Slide Library, which contains a collection of 300,000 slides and 38,000 photographs of art-related subjects.  It is located on the fourth floor of List Art Center.

There is no need to worry about finding research materials or books to enjoy while campus, because the Brown University Library system has whatever you could possibly need.

Email me your suggestions or any questions you have about life at Brown at


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