Corenda Weil

Corenda Weil

Published: 20 Sep 2023


The Brown University John Hay Library is a place filled with rich history and stunning architecture. This iconic landmark is renowned for its impressive collection of books, manuscripts, and rare artifacts that date back centuries. Stepping inside the John Hay Library is like taking a journey through time, as you are surrounded by the knowledge and stories of generations past.

In this article, we will uncover 9 unbelievable facts about the Brown University John Hay Library that will leave you in awe. From its unique architectural features to its world-class collections, this library holds a special place in the hearts of students, scholars, and history enthusiasts alike. So without further ado, let’s dive into the fascinating world of the Brown University John Hay Library.

Table of Contents

The library boasts a stunning architecture.

The John Hay Library stands as a testament to architectural brilliance, with its striking Renaissance Revival style. Built in 1910, its imposing facade features intricate detailing, grand arches, and a blend of classical and Gothic elements, earning it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

It houses rare and unique literary treasures.

Within the hallowed walls of the John Hay Library lies a vast collection of rare books and manuscripts, including a Gutenberg Bible, one of only 48 known to exist in the world. This priceless treasure, printed in the mid-15th century, represents a pivotal moment in the history of printing.

The library is home to the personal papers of renowned writers.

Literary enthusiasts will delight in knowing that the John Hay Library houses the personal papers of influential authors such as H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. These collections offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives and creative processes of these literary giants.

It holds a renowned collection of banned books.

The John Hay Library is also home to a remarkable collection of banned and censored books throughout history. From controversial works that challenged societal norms to revolutionary ideas that sparked debates, this collection reflects the importance of intellectual freedom and the power of literature to provoke thought.

The library is a treasure trove of historic maps.

Looking to explore the past through cartography? The John Hay Library boasts an extensive collection of historic maps, providing a visual representation of how our world has evolved over the centuries. From ancient maps of exploration to detailed city plans, these maps offer a fascinating glimpse into the past.

It houses an extensive collection of literary first editions.

Bibliophiles will be delighted to discover the extensive collection of literary first editions housed within the John Hay Library. From classic works of literature to groundbreaking scientific publications, these first editions offer a unique opportunity to delve into the original text that shaped the course of human knowledge.

The library is a haven for researchers and scholars.

With its vast and diverse collection, the John Hay Library serves as a haven for researchers and scholars from around the world. Whether studying rare manuscripts or conducting in-depth research on a specific topic, this library provides the resources and support needed to delve deep into the realm of knowledge.

It offers exhibitions and events that enrich the academic community.

The John Hay Library is not just a repository of knowledge; it also actively engages with the academic community through exhibitions and events. From curated displays of rare artifacts to lectures and workshops, these offerings foster a sense of intellectual curiosity and create opportunities for learning and collaboration.

The library holds a special place in Brown University’s history.

The John Hay Library has played a significant role in the history of Brown University. Named after John Hay, a former U.S. Secretary of State and a Brown University alumnus, this library stands as a symbol of the university’s commitment to knowledge, scholarship, and the pursuit of excellence.


In conclusion, the Brown University John Hay Library is truly a remarkable landmark with a rich history and a treasure trove of knowledge. From its stunning architecture to its extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts, there is no shortage of reasons why this library is considered to be one of the most incredible landmarks at Brown University. Whether you are a student, a researcher, or a book lover, a visit to the John Hay Library is an experience that should not be missed. So, if you find yourself in Providence, Rhode Island, make sure to carve out some time to explore this incredible gem of a library and uncover the fascinating facts and stories that it holds within its walls.


1. Is the John Hay Library open to the public?

Yes, the John Hay Library is open to the public. Anyone can visit the library and explore its collections, although certain materials may require special permission or appointments.

2. Are there guided tours available?

Yes, guided tours of the John Hay Library are available. These tours provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the library’s history, architecture, and notable collections. It’s recommended to check the library’s website or contact them directly for tour schedules and availability.

3. Can I borrow books from the John Hay Library?

No, the John Hay Library is primarily a research library and does not lend books to the general public. However, students and faculty members of Brown University have borrowing privileges.

4. Are there any special events or exhibitions held at the library?

Yes, the John Hay Library hosts a variety of special events, exhibitions, and lectures throughout the year. These events cover a wide range of topics, from showcasing rare books to exploring specific themes or historical periods. Check their website or social media channels for information on upcoming events.

5. Can I take photographs inside the library?

Photography is generally allowed inside the John Hay Library for personal use. However, restrictions may apply to the handling of certain materials, so it’s always a good idea to ask for permission before taking photographs.