Commencement Forum | Brown University’s Slavery and Justice Report with Commentary on Context and Impact: Presenting the Revised and Expanded Second Edition

Commencement Forum

Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library
20 Prospect St, Providence, RI
Saturday, May 28
11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

In 2006 Brown released its groundbreaking “Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice,” confronting and publicly documenting the University’s complex history with the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies of inequity and injustice. A newly released expanded edition, available through an immersive, interactive digital experience and as a printed book, offers insights into the Report’s persistent and evolving impact both on campus and across the world.

Join Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice Director Anthony Bogues; President of Alliance for Justice and AFJ Action Rakim H. Brooks ‘09; and Brown University Library Digital Scholarship Editor Allison Levy for a demonstration and discussion of the enhanced and expanded report. Welcome remarks by Joukowsky Family University Librarian Joseph S. Meisel.

John Hay Library Acquires José Rivera Papers

Lauded contemporary Latinx playwright’s papers will enrich the Hay’s holdings by artists of color in its distinctive Performance & Entertainment collecting area

The John Hay Library has acquired the papers of award-winning Puerto Rican-American playwright and screenwriter José Rivera. Serving as a foundational collection within the Hay’s Performance & Entertainment collecting direction, this trove of material will offer scholars and students a window into the contemporary life and work of a singularly talented writer whose work centers the lived experience of Puerto Rican-Americans. Consisting of 20 boxes, the papers include handwritten drafts, playscripts, notebooks, correspondence, promotional materials, press clippings, photographs, and juvenilia.

A page from a 2002 typed draft of José Rivera’s magical realist work “Lucky.” Mr. Rivera writes new pieces by hand; drafts are then typed for review and revision.

Amanda E. Strauss, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections, is thrilled that the Performance & Entertainment area of collecting will be bolstered in such a remarkable way: 

José Rivera is such an important creative voice, and this collection will allow students and scholars to understand his writing process and to see firsthand how he brings his vision to fruition. This material will be heavily used by an international audience, and I’m proud that Mr. Rivera chose the John Hay Library as his partner in preserving and making accessible his archival legacy. 

Born in Puerto Rico in 1955, Mr. Rivera moved to Long Island, NY with his family when he was five years old. He grew up surrounded by books. Though his grandparents could not read or write, they were gifted storytellers, and he realized he wanted to be a writer in his adolescent years. In 1989, he took part in the Sundance Institute workshop led by Nobel Prize winning writer and journalist Gabriel García Márquez, whose magical realist style has been an influence on his work. His plays have been produced internationally and include “Sueño,” which Mr. Rivera translated and adapted from the play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, recently produced  this spring at Trinity Rep in Providence, RI and directed by Brown/Trinity alumna Tatyana-Marie Carlo, MFA’ 20 d. Mr. Rivera has written many plays, two of which received Obie Awards: “Marisol” (1993) and “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot” (2001); other plays include “The Promise,” “Each Day Dies with Sleep,” “Cloud Tectonics,” “The Street of the Sun,” “Sonnets for an Old Century,” “School of the Americas,” “Brainpeople,” “Giants Have Us in Their Book,” and “The House of Ramon Iglesia.” 

Mr. Rivera visited Brown in April during which time he attended classes with English and Brown/Trinity MFA students, toured the construction site of the new Performing Arts Center with Brown Arts Institute leadership, and met with members of the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. Patricia Ybarra, Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, explains the significance of this acquisition:

Bringing José Rivera’s papers to Brown will allow researchers and artists to experience the thinking, aesthetics, and creative process of one of the most important and contemporary Latinx playwrights. This collection expands the Brown University Library’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in the arts by expanding their collections to include the papers of contemporary artists of color as a key part of the Hay Library’s rich archive of contemporary plays and performance.

Mr. Rivera’s plays have been published by Viking Press, Mentor Books, Dramatists Play Service, Dramatics magazine, Samuel French, Broadway Play Publishing, American Theatre magazine, Theatre Communications Group and Smith & Kraus. 

In addition to playwriting, Mr. Rivera is also a gifted and accomplished screenwriter. His screenplay for the feature film “The Motorcycle Diaries” was nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 2005, making him the first Puerto Rican writer to be nominated for an Academy Award. Also nominated for a BAFTA and a Writers Guild Award, “The Motorcycle Diaries” won top writing awards in Spain and Argentina. His screenplay, based on Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and was distributed nationally in the winter of 2013. His film “Trade” was the first film to premiere at the United Nations, and he has many other screenplays and screenwriting credits to his name including work in television such as, “The House of Ramon Iglesia; A.K.A. Pablo” for PBS’s “American Playhouse” (Norman Lear, producer); “The Eddie Matos Story; Eerie, Indiana” (co-creator and producer); “Goosebumps; Mayhem” (Bob Cooper, producer); “The Conquest” (Ron Howard, producer); and “Latino Roots,” an untitled 10-hour limited series for HBO. Avery Willis Hoffman, Artistic Director of the Brown Arts Institute, says of Mr. Rivera’s writing:

José Rivera’s seminal works for stage and screen have tackled some of the most pressing social issues of our time — violence, racism and misogyny, mental illness, poverty, climate change; as we work towards the opening of our new Performing Arts Center in late 2023, new creative collaborations and ongoing engagements with artists such as José will define the powerful ways in which art makes space for the exploration of challenging topics.

Mr. Rivera is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Sundance Institute and has been a creative advisor for Screenwriting Labs in Utah, Jordan and India. A member of the LAByrinth Theatre Company and Ensemble Studio Theatre, he leads a weekly writing workshop in New York City, where he lives.

Cataloging of the contents of the collection is ongoing. Requests to view the collection can be made online through the John Hay Library’s website.

Kimberly Toney Inaugural Coordinating Curator for Native American and Indigenous Collections

Kimberly Toney

The John Carter Brown Library and the Brown University Library are pleased to announce Kimberly Toney as the inaugural Coordinating Curator for Native American and Indigenous Collections. Kim’s first day will be July 18, 2022.

The Coordinating Curator for Native American and Indigenous Collections will support the libraries in their focus on Native American and Indigenous collections of signal importance as well as programming, including outreach and engagement with Native American and Indigenous communities.

Kim is a member of the Hassanamisco Band of Nipmuc and is currently Head of Readers’ Services and Director of Indigenous Initiatives at the American Antiquarian Society. During her time at the American Antiquarian Society she has streamlined reference workflows, implemented and managed the Aeon collection management software, coordinated the Society’s undergraduate seminar in American Studies, developed the Indigenous Engagement Initiative, and co-curated several digital exhibitions; the most recent is Reclaiming Heritage, Digitizing Early Nipmuc Histories from Colonial Documents, which launched in November, 2021. Kim has a master’s degree in Urban Affairs & Public Policy with a concentration on Historic Preservation from the University of Delaware and a bachelor’s in Art History from the University of Rhode Island.

Brown University is committed to advancing research, teaching and engagement with the social, cultural, artistic, ancestral and heritage, legal and political aspects of Native American and Indigenous peoples in both the historical and contemporary periods. Amanda Strauss, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections, notes that Kim’s appointment heralds an important collaboration between two world-class institutions: “Establishing a permanent, joint position that focuses on Native American & Indigenous collections at both the John Carter Brown Library and the John Hay Library furthers our shared commitment to ensuring that our libraries are sites of ethical, engaged, and culturally-centered collecting and scholarship.” Dr. Rae Gould, Executive Director of Brown’s Native American & Indigenous Studies Initiative, was instrumental in helping shape this new position in support of the University’s commitment and the libraries’ collaboration. Speaking on behalf of the John Carter Brown Library’s staff and Board, Karin Wulf, Director and Librarian for the John Carter Brown Library, states: “We are delighted to welcome Kim, an outstanding professional who has innovated important programming in Native American and Indigenous Studies, to the JCB. And we’re equally delighted to be partnering with Brown University Library, reflecting our joint commitment to this essential focus.”

WWII Art Collection Talk by Peter Harrington

Greenhalgh, Robert F., “Aboard aircraft carrier ‘Belleau Wood’ on raid on Wake Island: view from starboard fantail on flight deck, two chiefs in foreground, ‘talkers’ in rear ” (1943). Prints, Drawings and Watercolors from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:247094/

The Brown University Library is pleased to share an open invitation to view a presentation by Peter Harrington, Curator, Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, to the Continental Commandery of the Naval Order of the United States on Thursday March 24 at 7 p.m. EST

The talk will be broadcast live on the Continental Commandery’s YouTube channel. Discover more information about this and other events from the Continental Commandery.

In his presentation, Peter will describe the Brown University Library’s World War Two Art Collection, which is part of the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, and how it was created over the last 25 years. The talk will include some of the collection’s highlights with a special focus on the Naval and Marine Corps artists represented.

Peter Harrington is an author, military historian, and archaeologist, who curates the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection for the John Hay Library at Brown University where he has worked for over 37 years. A native of Manchester, England, he studied at London, Edinburgh, Simmons and Brown, and his research over the past three decades has focused on artists and images of war. For many years he taught a distance learning graduate course on the subject. His other area of research is Conflict Archaeology. He has authored and edited a number of books including British Artists and War: The face of battle in paintings and prints 1700-1914; William Simpson’s Afghanistan: Travels of a Special Artist and Antiquarian during the Second Afghan War, 1878-1879The Castles of Henry VIII; and English Civil War Archaeology. His current research focuses on art and mural programs in U.S. training camps, 1941-1945.

John Hay Library Acquires Archive of Spiderwoman Theater

Archive of legendary Indigenous theater furthers distinction and depth of Brown’s holdings in multiple interdisciplinary areas of study

First East Coast Pow Wow in New Haven in 1945, Spiderwoman Theater Archive

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] In 1976, when Muriel Miguel, her two sisters, and a diverse group of women founded Spiderwoman Theater in Brooklyn, NY, their aim was to interrogate and challenge anti-feminist narratives of the 1970s through high-caliber theatrical content written and performed by Native American women. A director, actor, playwright, choreographer, and educator, and member of the Kuna and Rappahannock Nations, Muriel — the Library’s connection to this incredible trove of materiel — is the Artistic Director for Spiderwoman Theater, and director for each of the 20 plus Spiderwoman productions. She and the Spiderwoman company draw on Indigenous storytelling traditions to create works that integrate art, dance, and music with humor and pop culture, simultaneously entertaining and educating. 

The archive is an indelible record of Spiderwoman’s history and the lives of Native American women onstage and off, and it brings extraordinary depth to the John Hay Library’s collections on Performance & Entertainment,  Global Lavender Voices, and more. Avery Willis Hoffman, Artistic Director, Brown Arts Institute, describes the impact Spiderwoman Theater and Muriel particularly have had on the practice of performance and the scholarly potential of her archive at Brown: “Muriel Miguel’s lifetime of contributions to the field of theater and Spiderwoman Theater’s mighty expansions on the realm of theatrical creativity is immeasurable; I have no doubt that the Archive will provide inspiration and a wealth of fruitful discoveries for future generations of students, faculty, visiting researchers and artists.” 

Recognized by Indigenous women in New York and beyond in the 1980s as a powerful representative of their voices and concerns, Spiderwoman Theater has since been globally renowned as an artistic force in the advancement of Indigenous women, artists, and cultural artisans. Its productions exist at the intersection of Indigenous life, sexism, classism, and violence in the lives of women — and at the vanguard of contemporary Western theatre. According to D. Rae Gould, Executive Director of Native American and Indigenous Studies, Adjunct Professor for American Studies, Affiliated Faculty in Anthropology, and Faculty Associate in the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice:

This collection will help to support and strengthen the new concentration in Critical Native American and Indigenous Studies that will launch in Fall 2022. We are grateful to have Spiderwoman Theater’s work at the University for future generations of students, faculty and other scholars. It will serve as a foundational collection for further development of the Creative Expressions area of the concentration, in particular, and expand our knowledge and understandings of her contributions to the field of Indigenous Theater.

Muriel Miguel, Co-founder, Spiderwoman Theater; credit: Shawn McPherson

In September 2019, Muriel presented Muriel Miguel: A Retrospective for the Brown University Library’s 15th Annual Don Wilmeth Endowed Lectureship in American Theatre, during which she shared the fascinating journey from her roots in Brooklyn to her landmark contributions to the contemporary feminist and Indigenous theatre movements in the United States, Canada, and around the world. Amanda Strauss, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections, reflects: 

Hearing Muriel speak in such an intimate setting and spending time with her since the lecture, learning about her life and her collection, are experiences that I will always treasure. I’m proud of the enduring relationship that the Hay has built with Muriel and, through her, Spiderwoman Theater, and am thrilled that we can be a gateway for the researchers, students, performing artists, and community members who will immerse themselves in this collection and draw from it inspiration and knowledge that will generate new scholarship and art.

The Library was honored to host Muriel, and is proud to preserve and provide broad research access to this unique collection. Once at the Hay Library, the materials will have an immediate and lasting impact on many areas of study at Brown, including Native American and Indigenous Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies and the Brown Arts Institute, where Muriel’s daughter Murielle Borst-Tarrant (Kuna, Rappahannock), Artistic Director and Founder of the Safe Harbor Indigenous Collective, is currently a visiting Professor of the Practice. Sarah dAngelo, Assistant Professor for Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, knows Murielle well and states, “Murielle is a third generation New Yorker, and carries her family’s legacy as an Indigenous theatre artist, activist, and cultural change maker. The Brown community is incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity to engage with her as one of the most vital and accomplished storytellers working in the American Theatre today.” Access to the Spiderwoman Theater archive and Murielle’s knowledge and experience will offer Brown students and faculty deep and authentic knowledge of Indigenous theatre specifically and the art of theatre writ large.

Muriel and her wife Deborah Ratelle are currently preparing the large archive for retrieval from their home in Brooklyn, NY. The Library anticipates that it will be at Brown and available for study in late spring 2023.

The HBCU Library Alliance and Brown Library receive IMLS grant for Leadership Development Program

Cultural sensitivity and organizational healing will be integral facets of unique partnership program to foster leaders at HBCU libraries and Brown University

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] The HBCU Library Alliance and Brown University Library have received a $100,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program to create a transformational leadership development program: Stronger Together, Leading Through Community. This two-year program for emerging library leaders is the first such program to intentionally unite two distinct communities of practice, HBCUs and Brown University. The curriculum and immersive exchanges of this intensive program will develop core leadership competencies such as change management, fundraising, and collection stewardship. The program will also focus on the leader’s role in promoting organizational healing from the disruption of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in ensuring that libraries are sites of intentional social justice work.

Mutually Beneficial Partnership

The HBCU Library Alliance is a consortium that supports collaboration across the libraries and between information professionals dedicated to providing an array of resources designed to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities and their constituents. This grant award marks the first project to be undertaken as part of the formal partnership between the HBCU Library Alliance and Brown University Library. The HBCU Library Alliance welcomed Brown University Library into its community of practice in February 2020 as its inaugural invited, non-HBCU affiliate member. This partnership is based on deep relational work that acknowledges and actively counteracts the historical power imbalance between HBCUs and the Ivy League. It is built with respect and investment in each other’s communities with the shared focus of mutually beneficial partnership activities. Sandra Phoenix, executive director of the HBCU Library Alliance, looks forward to working with Brown to foster strong, culturally sensitive library leaders: 

Collaborating with Brown University to support leadership development and to continue our mission to strengthen HBCU libraries and their staff sets the stage to advance our work together. We are grateful to IMLS for funding the Stronger Together, Leading through Community leadership development initiative. It is our goal to share skills and talents with Brown University, create and cultivate a diverse space for mutual teaching/learning/healing experiences and develop high-calibre library leaders to meet the needs of our communities.

Both the HBCU Library Alliance and Brown University Library have a long history of successful partnerships, which have laid the operational foundation for this pilot project to succeed and grow into a sustainable program that will deeply influence the trajectory of leadership development in libraries. According to Monika Rhue, Director of Library Services and Curation at Johnson C. Smith University’s James B. Duke Memorial Library, and HBCU Library Alliance Board chair, the grant-funded, partner-run program is well positioned to develop library leaders with expertise in social justice:

The program’s pilot will include a most-essential social justice component, where we will focus on leadership development from the lens of community members engaged in civil/human rights. There is such potential to learn, to share experiences, and to advance the development of leaders with this critical perspective. Thanks are due to Brown University for this opportunity to engage and to IMLS for funding this very timely initiative. Our transformative work continues!

The program will break new ground in library leadership development by prioritizing two guiding principles:

  1. Equitable Partnership: Intentional, respectful, and mutually beneficial partnerships across communities are essential for advancing the mission of academic libraries to serve as core resources for socially-engaged scholarship.
  2. Unique Value of HBCUs: HBCU Libraries are uniquely positioned as educational institutions that steward and preserve African American history and culture. It is the responsibility of all research libraries to support this work and advance the status and reach of HBCU libraries, thereby amplifying the cultural, social and scholarly value of African American history.

Emerging Leaders Cohort

The pilot’s cohort of emerging leaders is purposefully designed to be small, including a total of six participants drawing from HBCU Library Alliance member libraries and Brown University Library. The size will ensure deeply personalized attention to the participants, and the program directors — Sandra Phoenix, Executive Director of the HBCU Library Alliance, and Amanda E. Strauss, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections, Brown University — will be attentive to how the unique qualities of this program can be scaled for broader impact.  

Program activities will include:

  • Personalized Leadership Development Plans: Each member of the cohort will have support to create a personalized leadership development plan.
  • Formal Mentorship during the program and beyond 
  • Virtual learning and coursework: The cohort will have access to a unique leadership curriculum specifically designed for this program.
  • Cohort connections in-person and virtual
  • Immersive Exchanges: Each emerging leader will participate in a multi-day, immersive site visit at either an HBCU library or Brown University Library. These exchange residencies will be tailored to individual leadership development plans created as part of the curriculum.
  • Leadership Symposium: The program will culminate in an invitational leadership symposium wherein the emerging leaders cohort will partner with the instructors and curriculum designers to share their learning outcomes with 30-50 colleagues drawn from HBCU libraries and Brown University Library. 

“The support from IMLS is a wonderful recognition of our partnership and the goals we share for advancing the next generation of academic library leaders,” said Joseph S. Meisel, Joukowsky Family University Librarian at Brown. “Combining the distinctive strengths of the HBCU Library Alliance, its member institutions, and the Brown University Library on the basis of genuine reciprocity is a very exciting prospect.”

IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program

The Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program (LB21) supports the development of a diverse workforce of librarians and archivists in order to meet the information needs of their communities by enhancing the training and professional development of library and archives professionals; developing faculty and information leaders; and recruiting, educating, and retaining the next generation of library and archives professionals.

Event | “Just Like the Men”: The 19th Amendment and the Racial Legacies of Women’s Suffrage with Laura Prieto

The Library invites you to join us via Zoom for a talk by Laura R. Prieto on Thursday, March 18 at 12 p.m. Join the talk.

Although national women’s suffrage organizations declared victory with the Nineteenth Amendment, many women in the United States continued to be denied the right to vote for decades afterwards. This talk explores why and how the ballot remained limited to white, native-born U.S. citizens, in 1920, while Black women and men in the South, colonized subjects in Puerto Rico and the Philippines, and others had to continue their struggle for political equality.

Laura Prieto

Laura R. Prieto (B.A., Wellesley College; A.M., Ph.D., Brown University) is the Alumni Chair in Public Humanities and a Professor of History at Simmons University in Boston. She teaches American history, gender and women’s history, public memory, and methodology. Her current research studies colonizing and colonized women across U.S. empire in the Pacific and Caribbean. She has written on transnational nurses, Protestant missionaries, anti-imperialists, and suffragists from the 1890s through the 1940s. Her earlier books include At Home in the Studio: The Professionalization of Women Artists in America and Crossings and Encounters: Race, Gender, and Sexualities in the Atlantic World (co-edited with Stephen R. Berry). 

This talk is open to the public and will be captioned.

Announcement | John Hay Library unveils transformative vision for special collections at Brown

Six dynamic and interconnected areas of focus build on current collection strengths and forge a path for building distinctive collections that support expansive and imaginative inquiry with a commitment to community engagement, environmental sustainability, and social justice.

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] After a year-long process of critical self-study and reflection led by Amanda Strauss, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections, the John Hay Library is launching a new collection policy, designed to guide highly strategic collecting at the Hay. The policy development process involved staff members at the Hay as well as consultations with a wide array of stakeholders at Brown and in key external communities.

When Ms. Strauss joined the Library in 2019, she was charged with creating a focused plan for the Hay, in alignment with Library and University goals and priorities, that would inspire faculty and students and transform the Hay into a center of academic excellence and a prominent destination for scholarly research. A serious commitment to representing diverse perspectives, experiences, and methods would be a fundamental part of that plan — necessary work for a world-class institution that facilitates free and open inquiry. According to Joseph S. Meisel, Joukowsky Family University Librarian, “Under Ms. Strauss’s leadership, the John Hay Library is reaching new heights in advancing education, research, and public knowledge while also becoming a far more inclusive institution that speaks to a much broader range of human experience. This kind of scholarly vision and intellectual organization is what distinguishes outstanding special collections research libraries at world-class universities like Brown.”   

The policy consists of six areas of focus for collecting as well as three research themes in the sciences that are purposefully interconnected to create a holistic basis for research, education, and public engagement that encourages the kind of expansive and imaginative inquiry for which Brown University is renowned. They also establish a profound and more cohesive intellectual context for a remarkable set of existing collections, allow for strategic and sustainable collecting, and create a path for reparative and community-based collecting.

  • Global Lavender Voices celebrates the lived experiences, contributions, accomplishments, and culture of LGBTQIA+ communities, both in the United States and internationally.
  • Ideology & Power provides coherence and promotes public access to more than 200 years of original material that documents the evolution of political, social, and religious ideologies and that sheds light on the complex ways in which ideology influences social and political power structures.
  • Military & Society traces the social, political, economic, and cultural influence of world militaries during war and peace. 
  • Performance & Entertainment documents the history and creative process of performing arts and provides a window into public life and popular entertainment in the Americas through plays, dance, film, music, photography, and pornography. 
  • Popular Literature aims to reflect the imaginative worlds of North American authors and readers from the 18th through the 21st centuries. The Hay holds preeminent research collections in weird fiction, science fiction, and fantasy.
  • The University & Beyond augments the robust and growing collections of Brown’s institutional records and student life by tracing the unique and enduring global imprint of the University’s programs, faculty, and alumni.

Overlapping with these six areas of collecting focus are three prioritized research themes in the sciences: Climate Change, Collections as Data, and Health and History. The new policy recognizes the importance of using primary sources in scientific research and has already been strengthening its collections in STEM-related areas. According to Dr. Megan Ranney, who interpreted an item related to gun violence for the Hay’s exhibition Collecting with Distinction: Faculty Insights into Recent Acquisitions, “As both a scientist and scholar, I know how important it is to capture memorabilia of public health and medical debates in real time. I’m thankful for the foresight of Ms. Strauss and the John Hay Library in capturing so many documents, images, and other original materials. Future generations of students and researchers will be able to use our collections to understand our mindset behind many of our biggest societal struggles, such as gun violence. We are lucky to have this vision.” 

The Hay is already well known for supporting both humanistic and scientific inquiry through its renowned collections in the history of medicine and alcoholism and addiction, and in the history of mathematics and the “exact sciences” starting in 1180 B.C. Climate change is a theme that is present across a range of Hay materials that will be given new visibility and intentional development going forward. 

“A Representation of the Great Storm at Providence, Sept. 23rd 1815,” 1816.

Ms. Strauss emphasizes the importance of including special collections in teaching and research at Brown: “The Hay is a vital resource for the transformative, creative, intellectually independent work that is a hallmark of Brown. Our collections, though rare and unique, are meant to be actively used, and their use has never been more important than in this critical point in our nation’s history. The resources we steward are essential for scholarship that builds new knowledge in service of a more just and equitable society.”

The collection policy also provides a geographic framework for present and future collecting. Currently, Western Europe, North America, and Latin America are robustly represented. The collections also contain important material from East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Postcolonial Anglophone and Lusophone Africa. Going forward, collecting will focus on transnational movements and material created within the Global South or its diaspora. Growth of collections in these areas will occur in close partnership with the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, the Department of Africana Studies, and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. 

Professor Tony Bogues, Asa Messer Professor of Humanities and Critical Theory and Professor of Africana Studies, has been collaborating with the Hay in support of his work as the Director of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. He explains the critical role the Hay has been playing in the CSSJ’s The Global Curatorial Project to collect oral histories and memories of formerly enslaved peoples: “We are at a critical juncture in the archival and collections world as the issue of repair — and therefore restitution of objects — spark debate about how to collect with equity and respect for the histories and voices of populations who were, and in some instances remain, dominated by forms of historical injustice. The Hay is a remarkable partner in this work. Its expert staff has been partnering with us and our colleagues in places like Senegal in debates and discussions about collections and how to think anew about stewardship as a plural effort in archives.”

Through its renewed focus on the Global South, the Hay could unintentionally replicate structures of colonialism and racism. To ensure ethical, intentional, and equitable collecting, five guiding principles for collecting were defined within the policy. These principles emphasize community engagement and shared authority and stewardship of material; as such, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is articulated first among the guiding principles. Recognizing systemic, structural, and institutional racism, the Hay is applying an anti-racist framework to its collecting, and building a system of continual evaluation of new and existing collections, modes of collecting, and the impact of collections on our community. This framework is consistent with the Library’s commitment to becoming actively anti-racist.

The Hay endeavors, through its collections and services, to ensure that the diverse array of students, scholars, and visitors who visit its physical and virtual spaces feel welcome. This importance is underscored by the fact that the Hay is open to the public (under normal operating conditions) and is situated amidst the vibrant and diverse Providence community.

In conjunction with Brown’s Sustainability Initiative, the Hay is committed to Sustainable Collecting and Stewardship. The Hay will assess the current and future environmental and fiscal impacts of acquiring, preserving, and providing research access to rare, unique, and fragile material in all physical formats. 

Through Community-Engaged Collecting, the Hay will build and sustain mutually beneficial relationships with diverse communities locally at Brown, within Rhode Island and New England, and nationally and globally. As part of the relationship, community members may advise and guide collecting policies, practices, and access principles to determine whether their historical material remains within their community or under what terms collaborative stewardship of donated materials would operate. 

The Hay is attuned to and respectful of its Local Contexts, seeking to be an active member of the Rhode Island research community and to build collections, especially those related to Rhode Island and regional history, that complement — but do not compete — with peer repositories. 

The Hay recognizes the value of Institutional Collaboration with academic centers and departments within the University and strategic partnerships with external repositories and organizations. These partnerships provide intellectual guidance for collection development as well as theoretical, cultural, and other valuable insights that will improve the reputation and relevance of the Library and its collections.

Barazoku, Japan’s first commercially circulated gay magazine.

Following a collecting pause during the development of the policy, the Hay is now actively, strategically collecting. The recent acquisition of José Rivera’s papers extends its holdings of contemporary, major LatinX playwrights. The collection of Japanese LGBTQIA+ magazines, such as Barazoku (薔薇族) and Fūzoku kitan (風俗奇譚), is one of the largest of its kind in the US, including many rare issues not found in other stateside repositories. The Jewelnel Davis Collection of mystery novels by Black women writers strengthens and enriches the popular literature at the Hay. 

Weird Tales magazine cover. Jan. 1942.

The scholarly work being done at the Hay broadens understanding of the materials we hold in critical ways. For example, The Racial Imaginaries of H. P. Lovecraft, an online exhibit created by the 2020 Brown University Library Exhibitions Proctor, Alberto Alcaraz Escarcega, Political Science Ph.D., examines the interconnectedness of Lovecraft’s work and his problematic beliefs about race. Lovecraft, whose papers are held by the Hay and fully digitized, is considered to be the founder of weird fiction. He remains an influential literary figure whose body of work continues to be revisited, referenced, and revered; understanding the full context of his writing is necessary in a contemporary landscape.

The Hay’s new collection policy provides the underpinning that will elevate the Hay as a destination research library whose collections, fellowships, exhibitions, and programming will attract a global cohort of researchers, and ensure that the Hay realizes its full potential as a vital campus resource for active, interdisciplinary research and exploration. This framework does not set limits on collecting so much as it empowers the Hay to maximize the scholarly and reputational value of its acquisitions and to fulfill its mission to support free and open inquiry, experimentation, and creativity in a welcoming environment with equitable access to collections, exhibitions, and programming to a global community of students, scholars, and the public.

Media and other inquiries, please contact [email protected].

Announcement | Library Spaces Open for Fall 2020

Your Brown University Library is thrilled to invite you back into the libraries for Fall 2020! 

John Hay is doing his part for a Healthy Brown.

The Library is working to meet critical student and faculty needs in the following ways:

  • Opening space for individual student work on a reservation basis
  • Providing enhanced digital access to materials for courses and scholarship
  • Circulating physical materials on a pickup basis
  • Supporting education and research through remote consultation with the Library’s experts

These services are described in more detail below.  We will continue to adapt as circumstances change, and provide updates to the campus community accordingly.

Library Town Hall

The Library University-Wide Town Hall meeting from September 17, 2020 was recorded and can be found on the Library’s YouTube channel and below:

Safety Is Everyone’s Priority

Our opening plan is based on the most up-to-date, reliable safety protocols to ensure a healthy environment for our patrons and staff. It is up to all of us to keep each other healthy and safe, and we feel confident that members of the Brown community will gladly share in this responsibility so that the Library can operate safely and continue providing the services that students and faculty most need. 

When you come to the Library, please

  • Wear a mask over your mouth and nose at all times
  • Maintain social distance
  • Sit in your reserved seat only
  • Sanitize your study space when you arrive and before you leave 

Please follow all other Healthy Brown steps to keep yourself and our community well. If you aren’t feeling well, please make use of our robust slate of digital resources.

We extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to everyone for following these steps!

What You Need to Know

This list highlights the most important information you need to know, with links to additional details.

What spaces will be open?

  • Select study spaces in the Rockefeller Library, Sciences Library, and John Hay Library are open on a reserved seating basis.
  • Orwig Music Library will be closed to users until further notice. Orwig materials will continue to be available by request.
  • The cafés in the Rock and SciLi will be closed until further notice. You may bring a personal water bottle. We ask that no food is brought into the libraries unless medically necessary.

When will the Library be open?

  • Library spaces opened to graduate and medical students on Wednesday, September 16
  • Undergraduates are welcome in Library spaces as of Monday, October 5.
  • Hours vary by library

How do I reserve a seat?

How will I get Library materials?

  • Requests for materials will continue to be made through Josiah, the online catalog, for general collections, and through Aeon for special collections materials.
  • All requested materials will be retrieved by staff for contactless pickup. More information.
  • For everyone’s safety, we ask that patrons do not enter the stacks.

How do I get help?

  • Library staff are standing by online to help students and faculty. Please use the Ask a Librarian service for questions and to get research support. You can also email [email protected] (general) and [email protected] (special collections) with questions.
  • Staff onsite will be primarily engaged in helping to keep our study spaces safe and healthy. They will not be providing in-person Library services.

How can I let you know what I think?

Library Study Spaces

Rockefeller Library

Hours:

  • Monday – Thursday 12:30 – 10 p.m.
  • Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 12:30 – 5 p.m.

Spaces with reserved seating available:

  • Sorensen Family Reading Room (Level 1: Rooms 130, 130 A and B, 132)
  • Finn Reading Room (Level 1: Room 134)
  • Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio (Level 1: Room 155)
  • Window Seating (Level 1: Room 141A)
  • Absolute Quiet Room and Foyer (Level A: Rooms A17, A07, A08)
  • Landing Lounge (Level A: Room AS3)
  • Table Seating adjacent to the Oversize Art Collection (Level A: Room A41)
  • Wernig Graduate Study Center (Level 2: Rooms 218 and 220) — Graduate and Medical students only
  • Corner Window Study Area (Level 2: Room 224)

Carrels:

Levels 3 and 4

Sciences Library

Hours:

  • Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday 12 – 5 p.m.

Spaces with reserved seating available:

  • Friedman Study Center (Level A: Rooms A01, A01A and B, A04, A05, A08, A09, A18, A21, A24)
  • Mezzanine Level (Room 201)

Please note that upper Library floors will be closed to users until further notice.

John Hay Library

  • Study space: Monday – Friday 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Special Collections: Wednesday and Thursday 1 – 4 p.m.
  • Closed Saturday and Sunday

Spaces with reserved seating available:

  • Willis Reading Room (first floor) – Opens September 16
  • Gildor Family Special Collections Reading Room (first floor) – Opens September 23 to graduate and medical students; opens October 7 to undergraduate students
    • By appointment through LibCal only
    • Reserve materials through Aeon one week (5 full business days) in advance of your appointment

Orwig Music Library

Orwig Music Library is currently closed. Orwig materials are available by request through Josiah.

Reservations

study space Seating

The web-based LibCal reservation system is available now for seating starting on September 16 for graduate and medical students and October 5 for undergraduates. 

Please make a reservation before going to a library. 

Watch the video tutorial on YouTube explaining how to use the LibCal reservation system.

Please make only one reservation per day to allow for equitable access to the limited number of de-densified seats. Seat reservations are for two-hour blocks of time with a half hour in between.

Carrel reservations will be made on a monthly basis, using alternate sides of each carrel on different days of the week to ensure safe distancing.

Once you place a reservation, you will receive a confirmation email. When you go to the library for your confirmed time, please bring a printout of the confirmation or be able to show it on an electronic device. Queue up outside, maintaining six feet of space with others in line. A security staff member will check your reservation confirmation before you will be allowed to enter the building. 

We ask that patrons bring only a personal water bottle into Library buildings.

graduate and medical student Carrels

Graduate and medical students can make a reservation for a carrel using the Library Carrel Request for Graduate Students form. Reservations are for one month at a time. Carrel use will be on an alternating schedule to ensure safe distancing between carrels.

Clean In / Clean Out

We ask that all patrons clean your designated area when you arrive and before you leave, using provided disinfectant wipes.

Faculty, visiting scholar, and staff use of library space

We ask that faculty and staff allow students only to reserve seating and carrels in the libraries. We will continue to provide digital delivery and distant circulation of materials for faculty and visiting scholars.

Faculty members with individual Faculty Studies will receive a Faculty Study Card via email. Please print the card, queue at the Rock, show the guard the card, and proceed to your study. You will need to bring the printout of this card with you each time you go to the Rock to access your study.

Graduate Teaching Assistant rooms

Graduate TA’s may also access a limited number of small study/collaboration rooms to conduct your online sections. Registration is required through 25Live. Please follow all safety protocols including Clean in / Clean out.

Classes in Library Spaces

At this time, the only classes scheduled to be held in Library spaces will be on floors of the Sciences Library that are managed by other campus units. Students will be asked to identify themselves as members of the class upon entry to the building.

Library Materials and Services Requesting Library Materials

Requests for materials will continue to be made through Josiah, the online catalog, for general collections, and through Aeon for special collections materials.

Contactless Pickup and Digital Delivery

All requested materials will be retrieved by staff for contactless pickup. For everyone’s safety, we ask that patrons do not enter the stacks. If materials are available digitally, they will be delivered to you via email.

Remote Assistance

While staff will not be available for in-person library assistance, Library experts are standing by online to help students and faculty. Staff onsite will be primarily engaged in helping to keep our study spaces safe and healthy. Please use the Ask a Librarian service for questions and to get research support. You can also email [email protected] (general) and [email protected] (special collections) with questions. This news page has detailed information about Library services during the pandemic.

Library Video Tutorials

There are a number of videos on the Library’s YouTube channel that provide information about how to use the Library, conduct various aspects of research, and more.

This Is Your Library

You belong here. While these are extraordinary times, we know the Brown community is also extraordinary. We will rise to the challenges of this pandemic, work together, support each other, and succeed with each other. We are grateful to the many students and faculty who have let us know how important the Library is to your academic work and experience at Brown. We are proud of our staff members who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic to support Brown’s academic mission and who will be both onsite and at home, ready to help you and collaborate with you on your research journey — this semester, in 2021, and beyond. We are here for you. This is your Library.

Announcement | Library Services during COVID-19 Pandemic

Rockefeller Library facade at dusk

Though the Brown University Library buildings remain closed, online services are available at [email protected], [email protected], and library.brown.edu.

Read the latest on Brown’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

RESUMPTION OF LIMITED LIBRARY SERVICES

As of June 29, the Library is providing limited in-person, contactless services.

Expanded Access to Digital Content

As a response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many of the Library’s content providers have expanded Brown’s access to digital content in order to support online research, learning, and teaching. In addition to the 2 million+ digital books and journals available through the Library’s subscriptions, we are excited to share many additional resources from our partners.

Faculty and Student Support

We are providing online services, including research consultations and instruction. Subject librarians can be reached by email and on chat, which is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Not sure who to ask? Email most questions to [email protected] and email questions about special collections to [email protected].

Additional resources:

Requests for Digital Material

You can request access to digital material! Contact us at the following email addresses to request items, ask research questions, and connect with a Library expert:

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) requests for resources available electronically are being filled!

Requests for Physical Library Material

As of June 29, the Library is providing limited in-person, contactless services.

Note that most Brown books can be renewed indefinitely.

Online Course Reserves Access (OCRA)

Faculty members should continue to use Online Course Reserves Access (OCRA) to request materials for course reserves and course packs. Once received, the Library will make the reserves available to students through the course site in Canvas

If you are using a course pack from a previous semester, the Library will make the content available in Canvas and/or OCRA. Email [email protected] to initiate this process. 

Returning Physical Material

Graduating students are urged to return physical materials to the Rockefeller Library, through the book return drop located to the left of the front doors. Other students may also drop off materials at the Rock, or you can keep the items in your possession until you are able to return to campus. This includes items obtained through Borrow Direct, easyBorrow, and ILLiad. Fines and late fees will be waived.

University Updates

Please check the University’s 2019 Novel Coronavirus Updates web page frequently for timely information.

Take good care and be well.