The John Carter Brown Library is an independently managed research institution on the campus of Brown University. The Library's focus is the field of Americana, encompassing some 50,000 early books related to the European exploration and settlement of the continents of North and South America and the ocean areas surrounding them. The collection includes primarily books, broadsides, maps, and prints published in European languages between 1493 and ca. 1825. The essential accounts of voyages and travels in the regions unknown to ancient geographers form the core of the collection. These narratives are augmented and enriched by a wide variety of books related in some way to the Americas while focused on some discipline, from science, medicine, and history to literature, law, religion and trade.

The Library also has significant collections of American imprints from early colonial printing in Mexico and Peru to works of British and German presses in North America. Printed guides to the Library's Peruvian and Luso-Brazilian books are in advanced stages of preparation. Some of the early domestic printing contains text in the indigenous languages of North and South America, exemplified by the Tercero cathecismo of Lima in 1585, presenting on each page catechetical lessons in Spanish, Quechua, and Aymar. A guide to Indian language materials in the Library is being prepared for publication. Other key collections include about 400 related manuscript codices and an unrelated collection of 300 Classical Venetian imprints by Aldo Manuzio.

Cataloguing records for ninety percent of the JCB printed collections can be accessed through Brown University's online catalogue, Josiah:

Online records for the Library are also available through the OCLC database. A card catalogue is available for maps, manuscripts, and about ten percent of the Library's printed books. Printed catalogues of the collection were published between 1875 and 1973 and are widely distributed in university libraries. The Library's collection of European narratives published between 1493 and 1750, are reflected in the Library's six-volume series, European Americana: A Chronological Guide to Works printed in Europe Relating to the Americas, a guide to the literature itself.

Browse the Archive of Early American Images, a database of 4400 visual images from three centuries, drawn from JCB collections: