The JCB initiates the Welcome and Access Plan

A photograph showing the front door of the JCB library open

To the JCB Community,

It is such a pleasure to write to you all, and to anticipate more regular communication going forward. You can expect to hear from Karin on this channel early in each month beginning in the new year.

There will be important news to share. And as we reflect on the exceptional resources of the John Carter Brown Library—its collections, community of experts, and mission to create and share knowledge of the early Americas, there will be fresh material on our website we’ll want to point you toward.

The first news to share is big. Over this next year we’ll be opening the doors to the JCB in a project of Welcome and Access that includes a renovation of the building, a renovation of our digital real estate, and a coordinated plan for staffing and programs.  We are grateful to the full Board of Governors, to Brown University, especially President and JCB Executive Committee Chair Chris Paxson, and to the incomparable JCB staff for their support as we undertake this work together.  

The building renovation will be modest in relative terms but huge in its practical and symbolic significance; a careful and elegant renovation of the front of this gorgeous structure will move the steps (and lamps!) gently forward to accommodate a walkway for full accessibility. The JCB’s face to the world, and its presence on the university’s green, will be only enhanced by this work. We expect that by this time next year we will be opening the doors to the JCB with a fresh spirit of commitment to the potential of the collections and this community to speak to the past—and the present.

We are also intensifying efforts to open our digital doors. The JCB has a long tradition of opening access to its materials, and our digital spaces will also undergo gentle renovation. Building digital space is as complex as anything physical, requiring similar attention to design and to user experience. We have learned so much in the pandemic about how the JCB can support and share inquiry into the early Americas, in large part through the essential service of our digital collections. We want to use what we have learned as we think about how we serve students, scholars, and communities near and far. You will see one aspect of this in our decision to formalize remote fellowships.

Welcome and Access is in part about our building and our digital spaces, but is most centrally about how we can support and then sustain inclusive communities and practices. Being explicit and intentional about the centrality of this purpose will lead and guide us forward. The JCB’s African Americas and Indigenous Studies initiatives will be a focus as we build and sustain staffing and programming. So too will supporting, collaborating and learning from centers at Brown, including the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative and more, and elsewhere, that are advancing expansive, inclusive study—and practice in the study of—the early Americas.

Our ambitions are great, but are all focused on how the JCB can best be of service to creating, preserving, and sharing knowledge for the public good. Your support has always made the JCB’s ambitions possible; we invite you to help support us now as we step into the next chapter for this storied institution. Support of all kinds is both appreciated and necessary; financial support for the JCB can be donated online here and by check directly to the Library with a note to gift account GFT631003.

More soon! And for now, we wish you and yours a warm and safe winter holiday season.

Karin Wulf
Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo Director and Librarian
Bill Twaddell 
Chair of the JCB Board of Governors