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Library Resources outside the U.S.

This guide offers information about services and resources you can utilize from the Brown University Library when studying abroad, as well as information for using foreign libraries and research institutes.

The library and you when studying abroad

Congratulations! You are going to spend some time abroad. However long that might be, you may ask yourself:  

  • How will I get access to research materials?
  • Should I bring all my books with me?
  • Are there decent places to study besides Parisian cafes?
  • Are there places for me to connect to other scholars?
  • Will I have wifi? Please, please, please.....

This guide is designed to give you some ideas for how to make the most of your time aborad while staying connected to the things you love about the libraries at Brown (well, maybe not the 24 hour study room). 

Here are some basics to keep in mind:

  • You can use most of our licensed databases and resourses (ebooks, e-journals, JSTOR, PubMed, WorldCat, etc.) when abraod using the VPN (see the box to your left).
  • Brown is a member of the various reciprocal arrangements that gives you access to libraries world-wide. The one you are most likely to use is SHARES.
  • You can get wireless access at many libraries through Brown's partnership with eduroam.
  • You are still able to use interlibrary loan for digital delivery of materials when abroad.
  • You have access to your MyJosiah account as normal
  • Librarians are available through email, phone and our very popular chat service


  • We cannot check out books and mail them to you.
  • Brown's firewall will block IP address from certain foriegn countries regardless of whether you use the VPN.
  • We have not set up BearBucks machines across Europe and Asia despite the rumours to the contrary.

Some additional important practicalities:

  • Certain libraries and archives may require a letter of introduction. Your subject librarian can write this if you fill out the following form.
  • Many foreign libraries are non-lending and have only closed stacks. Be prepared for reading things in the buidling and having to request items a day or more in advance of using them.

Preparing a Library Visit

Preparing to visit a library

 If you are planning to spend some time abroad, doing research in a special collection, it is important to prepare in advance.  Here are some tips: 

 1.  Try to identify, as much as you can, the exact items you wish to consult.  Use footnotes, bibliographies, catalogs of manuscripts, websites, and whatever tools it takes.  It is always best to know in advance just what you need to see.

2.  If there are proxies of these documents available (editions, facsimiles, microform, online digital copies, etc.), look at these in advance and make whatever notes you can.  This will save time in the library, and you will have a better idea just what you need to look for in actual item.

3.  If the library has a website, go there and check the calendar to be sure the library is open when you plan to go.  (The Vatican Library, for example, is generally closed from mid-July through mid-September, and the registration office is open only at certain times, so it is important to know such things before arriving.) 

4.  Also check for rules.  Does the library require letters of introduction?  They may require such a letter from an advisor, or your home library.  What tools are you allowed to bring into the reading room?

5.  Contact the library well in advance to let them know you are coming, and what you intend to look at.  You do not want to arrive to find that the book or manuscript you wish to consult is on exhibit in some far away city. 

6.  If you are reading old documents, be sure you have the skill to do so.  A medieval manuscript looks little like a modern edition of the same, and even if you know Latin very well, you may not be able to decipher a medieval or early modern script without some basic knowledge of paleography.  The same applies to modern languages. 


Off-Campus Access

To gain access to licensed resources:

For more information, see Off Campus Access Services.
If you're new to Brown, go to Getting Started to get information on your ID and establishing your account.