Construction at the Rock | Normal Operations

The Rockefeller Library is undergoing several projects to update and improve its functionality, safety, and features. All services and operations will proceed as normal during all phases of the work. Library hours will remain the same and can be viewed here.

New accessible ramp on the left; temporary ramp on the right

New accessible ramp on the left; temporary accessible ramp (now gone) on the right

A new accessible ramp has been installed in the front and is open for use. There is a channel of steps providing access to the front doors as well. Despite the construction fences, the cranes, and the general congestion around our block of Prospect Street, the Rock is open for business as usual.

Front stairs being resealed and replaced

Workers remove the old front steps and prepare the surface for sealing and new steps

New steps being installed

New front steps being installed

Work is being done on the exterior facade to reseal the concrete joints of the building (all floors, all around the building) as well as repair and replace exterior doors on Levels A and B.

Workers on crane lifts repairing concrete joints

Workers on crane lifts resealing concrete joints

Further, inside the building we will begin construction this fall on the new Digital Studio on the first floor of the Rock (in the former Periodicals Reading Room) as well as construct new office spaces on Level A.

View from the central hallway on the first floor to the now closed Periodicals Reading Room, which is becoming the new Digital Studio

View from the central hallway on the first floor to the now closed Periodicals Reading Room, which is becoming the new Digital Studio

Patrons can access the Hecker Room and the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab by going through the Sorensen Family Reading Room and taking a right into the Finn Reading Room. For more information on the closing of the Periodicals Reading Room and the new locations for the current periodicals and the Diversions popular reading collection, click here.

Periodicals Reading Room just before construction began

Periodicals Reading Room just before construction began; this space will become a Digital Studio

We have worked with Facilities Management and the contractors to minimize the impact of these projects on library users to the extent that it is possible (e.g., scheduling the noisiest work during early hours before the library opens). Nevertheless, much of this work must be performed during hours when the building is occupied by users, and some of the work can sometimes be noisy or disruptive. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause, but ask you to please bear with us in the short run as we work to improve the condition of the building and the facilities and operations within the Rock.

Front entrance and porch

The open front entrance and porch

We greatly appreciate your patience, flexibility, and cooperation as we work through the fall semester. Please let us know if you have any questions about the construction projects, now or as the semester unfolds.

Readex Delivers New Interface for Databases


On August 19, 2015, Readex launched new interfaces for America’s Historical Imprints, America’s Historical Newspapers, and the World Newspaper Archive, providing students and scholars with a better research experience than ever before. For more information, including a full listing of enhanced collections, click here.

Each collection now delivers:

A fresh new look
Newly enhanced interfaces offer compelling graphics and cleaner, more streamlined designs.

More intuitive navigation
A prominent search box and larger tabs encourage searching and discovery. Features unique to Readex—like the metadata-based browse options—have been retained for the users and librarians who appreciate the filtering they enable.

Better image viewing
Working with historical documents is now easier for both novice and seasoned users. Improved magnification means less time spent adjusting and reloading images, resulting in faster, more efficient research.
These enhancements are based on clear patterns of user need, demonstrated through analysis of usage behavior and in-depth feedback from librarians, professors, advanced researchers, college students and others.

We invite you to explore these enhanced interfaces at your convenience. No training is required; these changes are intuitive to users at all levels.

Questions? Please contact our Customer Service team by email at, or by phone at 1.800.243.7694.

2015 © Copyright NewsBank, inc. All rights reserved. 5801 Pelican Bay Boulevard, Suite 600, Naples, FL 34108

Periodicals Reading Room to Close 8/17 | Collections Moving

Periodicals Reading Room

Periodicals Reading Room

The Periodicals Reading Room in the Rockefeller Library, located on the first floor, will be closed for construction beginning Monday, August 17, 2015. The space will be renovated as part of the Library’s Mellon-funded digital scholarship initiative. The collections housed there have been relocated.

Current print periodicals can now be found on the second floor of the Rockefeller Library in stack ranges 50-51 at the south end of the building.

The “Diversions” popular reading collection has been moved to the Sorensen Family Reading Room on the first floor of the Rockefeller Library.


Sorensen Family Reading Room

A Printed Book Once Owned by Bernardo Bembo

AmB 230--271-inscription

William S. Monroe, Curator of Medieval Manuscripts and Early Printed Books at the Brown University Library, writes about his discovery that one of the Library’s books belonged to Bernardo Bembo:

Cecil Clough once noted that we can learn much about the life and travels of Bernardo Bembo from the books he owned, especially “because of his tendency … to make biographical jottings in his manuscripts.”[1] In another remark in the same article, he states that “interestingly enough there is no printed book that certainly can be associated with Bernardo’s library.”[2] Now, thanks to Bernardo’s well-known habit, we can say that the second statement is no longer true.

The Annmary Brown Collection at the Brown University Library holds a copy of Augustine’s De civitate dei printed in Venice by Johannes and Wendelin of Speyer in 1470.[3] The colophon to this edition notes that the printers come from Speyer. In the margin next to that colophon, is an inscription noting that two persons were passing by Speyer on the Rhine and decided to sign this book. The inscription reads: “D. Justus et B. Bemb. dum é regione Urbis Spire essemus internavigantes M.ccc.lxxi. xviiii. augusti . librum Signavimus.”[4]

The date was 19 August 1471, the year after this book was printed in Venice. B. Bemb. is an abbreviation often used by Bernardo Bembo, who left Venice on 16 July to be the city’s ambassador to the Court of Burgundy.[5] But who was “D. Justus”, and could the book have belonged to this person rather than Bembo? The second question is more easily answered. There are many more marginal notations in the book, mostly taking the form of indexing. These marginalia were made by at least two hands, and one is identical to that in other books (manuscripts) known to have belonged to Bernardo, as are many of the other marks, such as manicules.[6] Moreover, on fol. 59v are the words of Bembo’s motto: Virtue & Honor.

AmB 230--059v

As for D. Justus, I would suggest two possibilities. The most likely is Giusto de Baliis da Lendinara, to whom Bembo wrote some letters, and who was mentioned in others.[7] Another possibility, but less likely, is Justus of Ghent, a contemporary painter. Justus of Ghent (or Joos van Wassenhoven) painted for the Duke of Montefeltro, having left Ghent for Italy in 1469 or 1470, and known to have been in Urbino between 1472 and 1474 working on his masterpiece, the Communion of the Apostles.[8]

At any rate, the volume merits more study, and is available in the John Hay Library at Brown University. To make an appointment to view the book, email

[1] Cecil H. Clough, “The Library of Bernardo and of Pietro Bembo,” The Book Collector 33 (1984): 302-331. This remark is on p. 312.

[2] Clough, p. 313. Clough mentions, in a footnote, that he had earlier believed four printed books to be attributed to Bernardo’s library, but now rejects them. It should be noted, however, that a book published just a year later attributes two other printed books to Bernardo’s library. See Nella Giannetto, Bernardo Bembo, umanista e politico veneziano (Florence: Olschki, 1985), p. 356-357.

[3] Augustine, De civitate dei (Venice: Johannes and Vindelinus de Spira, 1470), John Hay Library, Annmary Brown 230. ISTC: ia01233000.

[4] This inscription was pointed out to me by my student assistant, Caroline Hughes, while assisting me in recording interesting features of the collection.

[5] Giannetto, Bernardo Bembo, p. 27.

[6] For manicules, including the characteristic manicules of Bembo, see William H. Sherman, Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), esp. pages 35-36.

[7] Giannetto, Bernardo Bembo, p. 29, 401-402, 408.

[8] Jacques Lavalleye, Juste de Gand: peintre de Frédéric de Montefeltre (Louvain: Bibliothèque de L’Université, 1936), p 40-50. Would Justus of Ghent have travelled back to the Low Countries in 1471? Little is known for certain of his travels, but he would have been known by humanists such as Bernardo, and they could have travelled together.

Life after Lovecraft

Sonia and Nathaniel Davis, circa 1936.

Sonia Haft Davis (1883-1972) would have lived her life in relative obscurity but for her 2-year marriage to a man named Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937).   Lovecraft was a science fiction and horror writer whose work has created a significant and active fan base.  To preserve her own literary output and the work of her third husband, Nathaniel A. Davis, Sonia donated materials documenting their lives to Brown University.  Those papers are now available for research in the Sonia H. and Nathaniel A. Davis papers (MS.2012.003) at the John Hay Library.

Those looking for information about H.P. Lovecraft in the papers of his ex-wife will be disappointed.  The bulk of the materials in this collection document the life of Sonia Davis from 1930 to 1972, during which time she lived in California and was married to Nathaniel A. Davis. Sonia and Nathaniel were both devoted to the idea of world peace and wrote numerous articles and poems promoting that goal.  Nathaniel founded Planetaryan, a humanitarian organization devoted to world peace, for which Sonia was the chief administrator.  The collection is a good source of documentation for anyone interested in U.S. social, political and religious history, especially around the period of World War II. It is also useful for researchers interested in American literature, especially religious poetry and didactic literature.

To learn more about the life of Sonia Haft Davis contact Christopher Geissler, Librarian for American and British Literary and Popular Culture Collections, or visit the John Hay Library.

Workshop and Forum | China’s Publishing Soft Power


On Friday, August 14, 2015, the Brown University Library will host a workshop and forum about China’s Publishing Soft Power in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library.

The workshop and forum will feature chapter authors from both the U.S. and China of the projected book Embracing China’s Publishing Soft Power: Trends, Resources, and Access.

The keynote speakers will be Sonia Feigenbaum, Associate Provost for Global Engagement at Brown University, Ned Quist, Associate Librarian for Research and Outreach at the Brown University Library, and Zhiqiang Zhang 张志强, Deputy Director of Academy of Publishing Studies, Professor in the Department of Publishing Science in the School of Library and Information Management at Nanjing University.

The forum will be chaired by Li Wang, Curator of the East Asian Collection at the Brown University Library, and moderated by William Monroe, Senior Scholarly Resources Librarian at the Brown University Library, Hong Ji 纪红, President, Reach Insights Consulting, LLC, and Zhuge Weidong诸葛蔚东, Professor in the Department of Journalism & Communication at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In addition to the workshop and forum, speakers and invited guests will be given a tour of campus and the Brown University Libraries on Thursday, August 13.

This event is co-sponsored by the China Initiative, Watson Institute for International Studies, the Office of Global Engagement, Brown University, and the Brown University Library.

For more information and inquiries about attendance, please contact Dr. Li Wang at

Date: Friday, August 14, 2015
Times: 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Coffee with Lovecraft Scholar Connor Pitetti

H. P. Lovecraft at home in Providence / Brown University Library

H. P. Lovecraft at home in Providence / Brown University Library

Join us on Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. at the John Hay Library for coffee and an informal discussion with S. T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellow Connor Pitetti focusing on his project “The Cities of H.P. Lovecraft and Le Corbusier: The Limits of the Human in Apocalyptic Modern Urbanism.”

Mr. Pitetti, a PhD candidate in English at SUNY Stony Brook, will discuss his ongoing research at the John Hay Library using the Lovecraft Collection.

Date: Thursday, August 13, 2015
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | The Influence of Anxiety: Lovecraft, Bloch, Barlow, et al.

Lovecraft exhibit announcement image

Robert Bloch, “IÄA. Shub-Niggurath Y’A”, circa 1933. Brown University Library

Brown University Library presents The Influence of Anxiety: Lovecraft, Bloch, Barlow, et al., an exhibition focused on H. P. Lovecraft’s literary network. Showcasing the work of Robert Bloch and Robert H. Barlow, two of Lovecraft’s youngest correspondents, the exhibition illuminates the shared affinities and fears of those in his circle. Their correspondence is both visual and literary, descriptive and didactic, light-hearted and severe. Indirectly engaging cultural anxieties centered on the economy and rising tide of war during the 1930s, these writers pushed the horror genre in new directions. Their work at the edges of popular fiction continues to resonate with a broad audience and contemporary writers.

There is also a complementary online exhibit, which can be viewed here.

The H. P. Lovecraft Collection at the John Hay Library includes extensive holdings of manuscripts, letters, editions of Lovecraft’s works in 20 languages, periodicals, biographical and critical works, and numerous collections of manuscript and printed materials of Lovecraft friends and associates. The exhibition includes autograph manuscripts and selected letters, drawings and illustrations, and printed ephemera. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information and standard operating hours consult the Library website:

Dates: August 19, 2015 – January 2016
Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Ralph Waldo Emerson Handwritten Letter Found at the Brown University Library


Page 1

A previously unknown original letter of Ralph Waldo Emerson was recently discovered in the Library’s holdings when a patron brought a book to the Circulation Desk at the Rockefeller Library for check out. Penina Posner, a member of the Circulation staff in the Rockefeller Library, immediately noticed two peculiarities about the book. First, the book had never been catalogued. And second, it had what appeared to be an original letter by Emerson tucked into its pages. Thinking the letter might be one of importance, Posner brought the book and its contents to the attention of colleagues in special collections. They agreed the letter appeared to be authored by Emerson himself and sought out experts for verification.

In the letter, dated December 23, 1868 from Concord, Massachusetts, Emerson writes to J. W. Bailey, Treasurer of the Union for Christian Work, to thank him for sending a check, and concludes, “I learned much in my first visit to the great honor of the founders & friends of the Union for Christian Work.” It is signed “RWaldo Emerson.” The signature matches that on a check written by Emerson to his daughter Ellen, held in the Koopman Collection at the John Hay Library. The handwriting has also been confirmed as Emerson’s by curatorial staff at the Concord Free Public Library, where Emerson’s papers reside.

Page 2

Page 2

​The letter, written when Emerson was 65, describes his visit to Providence, Rhode Island late in 1868. The organization Emerson visited, the ​Union for Christian Work, was founded at Providence that year by Henry Richmond Chace and other local volunteers to care for homeless boys living on the streets of the city. It offered “an activity room, reading room, classroom, and meeting room as well as security and a ‘home away from home’ atmosphere.” Initially, facilities were scarce, so most of the early club meetings were apparently held in Congregational churches. Eventually, the UCW had a facility at the corner of Eddy and Broad Streets. It continued operating under this name well into the 20th century and is considered a precursor to the Boys & Girls Clubs, according to the website of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The Emerson letter will be collated with other Emerson correspondence already on file in the Manuscripts division at the John Hay Library and may be seen by appointment. To request an appointment, please send an email to

Databases Unavailable Due to Maintenance Saturday Evening

All ProQuest databases will be unavailable from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. EST on Saturday, August 1, 2015. This includes all ProQuest research databases (ProQuest Business, etc.), Chadwyck Healy databases (LION, etc.), newspaper databases, RefWorks, Pivot, and the dissertation databases.

Clinical Key will also be having database maintenance on Saturday evening. Users will be unable to use any of the functions that require a personal login from 6:00 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. EST.