Pratt Institute Libraries - Dev

Brooklyn Campus Library


About the Library
Explanation of Dewey Call Numbers
Stacks Guide
Other Important locations Outside of Stacks
Circulation Desk
Reference Desk
Printing, Photocopying, and Scanning
Floorplan of the Brooklyn Campus Library
Library History


Borrow & Renew
Course Reserves
Visual and Multimedia Resources
New Acquisitions at the Brooklyn Campus Library


About the Library

Pratt's Brooklyn Campus Library is located in the neighborhood of Clinton Hill, in a handsome 1896 landmark building with interiors by the Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company. Collections and services are focused on the visual arts, architecture, design, creative writing, and allied fields. Additional materials of general interest support the general education curriculum.

The library houses more than 200,000 volumes of print materials, including 600+ periodicals, rare books, and the college archives.



Explanation of Dewey Call #s

The Pratt Institute Libraries use the Dewey Decimal classification system to assign call numbers to the majority of our collection. A call number is the address of a book on the shelf.  Use PrattCat, the Libraries' online catalog, to find the call number (location) of any item in the library.

The Dewey Decimal Classification System is subject based. This means that when you find the book you are looking for, other books on the same subject will be close by. Dewey call numbers begin with a three digit number. The Dewey system further breaks these subjects into subclasses by the addition of the next two digits, and then often even adding a decimal point and more numerical digits. The second part of a Dewey call number is based on the Author's last name. Frequently a Dewey call number will include a third part which represents the year that the item, or particular issue of an item, is published. The more numbers, the more specific the subject. In this way, the Dewey classification system progresses from the general to the specific.

When looking at a shelf, the numbers increase from left to right and top to bottom. Remembering the rule, "Nothing comes before something," can also help locate books. For example, 762 would come before 762.1.



Stacks Guide

Floor Row 1 Row 2 Row 3

2nd Floor Mezzanine (2M)

800-915.2 Children’s Fiction
Organized by Author
Architecture Bound Periodicals
  Oversize items
Children’s Non-Fiction

2nd Floor

746-759.3 759.36-769.9 769.9-799
Oversize items with call #746 - 799 are against the wall in front of Aisle 2

1st Floor Mezzanine (1M)

700 - 720.1 720.1D - 728 728.096 - 745
Oversize items with call # 700 - 745 are against the wall in front of Aisle 1 and 3

1st Floor

001 - 309.2 309.2 - 391 391.2 - 699
Oversize items with call # 001 - 699 on top of file cabinet in front of Aisle 2

Lower Level Mezzanine

General Subject Bound Periodicals General Subject Bound Periodicals Library Science Bound Periodicals



Other Important Locations Outside of Stacks

3rd Floor

  • Alumni Reading Room

2nd Floor

  • Current Periodicals – bound Art & Architecture periodicals

1st Floor

  • Reserve Books – Behind Circulation Desk
  • Reserve carrels
  • Fiction -Organized by Author
  • Reference Books

Lower Level

  • Visual and Multimedia Resources (VMR)
  • Learning Lab
  • Screening Room



Circulation Desk

Brooklyn Campus, 1st Floor
Main Tel: (718) 636-3420 | Fax: (718) 399-4220


About the Department

The Circulation Desk is located on the first floor of the Library, to the left of the main entrance when you enter. Circulation is where you check-out and return circulating books, picture files, and jump drives, and where you can renew items you already have checked out. It is also where you will find reserve books professors have placed to go along with their courses, which can be checked-out to use for 2-hours in the Library. In addition the Circulation desk has Sanborn Maps of the local Brooklyn area.

The Circulation Desk is also where you pick up a fine slip to pay off any overdue fines or fees you owe to the Library.  You take the fine slip to the Bursar’s office and return to the Library with your receipt to clear your Library record.

AV materials should be checked in and out from Visual and Multimedia Resources on the lower level of the Library.

AV materials and slides should never be placed in the outside Drop Box or in the drop slot at the Circulation Desk.

See also: Find Resources, Borrow & Renew, Course Reserves, Library Instruction.



Reference Desk

Reference Department, Brooklyn Campus, 1st Floor
Tel: (718) 636-3704 |  Fax: (718) 399-4220 | Email:


Reference Services

Librarians are available to assist students and faculty seeking information or needing assistance with research. The Reference Desk is located on the first floor in the East Reading Room (to the right of the main entrance). Assistance from the Reference Librarians can be requested in person, by telephone or by email at Librarians are available to provide scheduled library instruction sessions, tours and to help compile bibliographies or study guides.

The Reference Desk is also where you go to page theses and items from special collections, pick up Interlibrary Loan (ILL) items you have requested, and obtain METRO cards and Academic Libraries of Brooklyn (ALB) cards.


Reference Collections

The Library's Reference Collection is located in the East Reading Room on the first floor. The Reference collection is also organized by the Dewey Decimal classification system.  Reference collections do not circulate.

See also: Collection Development Areas, Reference Librarians, Library Instruction.




Computers are available in the Library to access the Libraries' website, online catalog (PrattCat), subscribed scholarly databases and other web sources. These terminals are intended for research and do not include word processing programs. They are located in the first floor foyer, and on the second floor of the Library.

There are several well-equipped computer labs outside of the library to fit the needs of each individual and their major.  Visit the Computer Labs page on the main Pratt site for complete information.



Printing, Photocopying, and Scanning

Printing is available on the first and second floor and can be activated by the same photocopy card as the copy machines. Color printing and copying is available only on the first floor.  A microfilm or microfiche reader-printer is located in the first floor West Reading Room. Five self-serve scanners are available on the second floor of the Library; an additional scanner is available in the basement of the Library in the Visual Resources Center.

For specific information on setting up your Pratt ID card to pay for copies and printing please visit



Floorplan of the Brooklyn Campus Library


See also: Locations & Maps



Library History


For 100 Years, Pratt's Library Calls a Brooklyn Landmark Home


Revolution and Innovation

Charles Pratt's new Institute opened in the Fall of 1887 with a drawing class of twelve students, among them women and people of color, a revolutionary practice at the time. This revolutionary spirit in founding the Institute assumed other forms. At a time when many libraries were private and for those of means only, Charles Pratt created one within his Institute to serve not only students of the Institute, but the general public as well, regardless of sex, racial, or ethnic heritage, or social and economic condition. On opening day, January 4th, 1888, the reading room had 150 periodicals, a collection of encyclopedias, and other general reference materials. In February, the Circulating Department opened with 10,000 volumes on the shelves and 200 in the hands of the catalogers. By July, 284 persons had registered as members of the Library, which was free to all citizens of Brooklyn over fourteen years of age.

A New Home for the Library Department

The Library Department was so popular that it expanded rapidly. Originally located on the first floor of the Main Building, branches were opened: one in the Astral Apartments in Greenpoint (another Pratt philanthropic experiment) and another, the Long Island Branch, on Atlantic Avenue. By 1896, the collection grew to 61,000 volumes, in round numbers, and over 300,000 volumes circulated a year. With such heavy use, larger quarters were essential.

"After the dimensions, shape and number of floors had been determined by the trustees, the librarian devised the interior plans on the lines laid down; the architect in charge being Mr. William Tubby, of Brooklyn.... The spacious entrance hall and corridors are paved in stone mosaic of pleasing design, the columns and pilasters are of Sienna marble, with yellow shafts and red pedestals.... The entire decoration of the building is by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, and the tints of the walls and ceilings in soft yellows, creams, buffs, terra-cottas, and yellow greens, are a perpetual delight to the eye." The cost of the new building and its equipment, excluding the cost of books, was $190,000.

From early on, technology was an important part of library operations. Mention is made of the system of speaking tubes and house telephones throughout the building. Also of note were the electric booklift and the glass stack flooring designed to admit light and to provide spacing for ventilation. The decorative skylight over the stairway is also noted for shedding both natural and electric light on the stairs.

Over the years many changes took place. With the development of the Brooklyn Public Library, the Long Island Branch was closed on June 1, 1898, and the Astral Branch was transferred to the Brooklyn Public Library on September 15th, 1901. In 1903, the previous system of paging books from closed stacks was abandoned in favor of open stacks. This reduced the need for pages, and facilitated the location of materials by browsing. In terms of architecture, the Children's Porch was added in 1912, providing a special entrance into the Children's Room that allowed young readers direct access from Library Park. This amenity opened at Friday Evening Story Hour on November 8th, 1912.

The chiming tall-case clock remembered so fondly by many alumni was acquired by the Library in 1919. The North Porch, now an office, was designed by John Mead Howells, also the architect of Memorial Hall, in 1935 and was added in 1936.

Other Programs in the Building

When the elegant new building opened, it served not only as a home for the Pratt Institute Free Library, as the Library Department had become, but it housed as well a museum, and the School of Library Economy, the first incarnation of Pratt's current School of Information and Library Science. Volume IV, number 10 of The Pratt Institute Monthly contains the following description of the facility for the Library School.

"The large west room on the stack side is devoted to the Library School. Its roomy knee-hole desks and solid chairs are such as students rarely find at their disposal. A movable partition will allow two exercises to be carried out at the same time...."

Upon the inauguration of the new building, there was also space on the third floor devoted to a museum and gallery. The south facing center room on the third floor hosted a variety of shows of science, arts, and crafts. Early photographs depict exhibitions of art glass, fine paintings of landscapes, and even an extensive exhibition of butterfly specimens. Eventually, the museum function was amalgamated with the program at the Brooklyn Museum, and the exhibition function was transferred to other campus locations.
With the closing of the museum, the delegating of public library functions to Brooklyn Public Library in the 1940s, and the move of the Library School to larger quarters in 1973, the edifice was ripe for its 1981-82 renovation, making the whole structure available for library purposes.

Reclaiming A Neglected Treasure

After a period of heavy use and uncontrolled expansion of collections, the 1980s brought a refinement of the collection, a rationalization of the use of space, and a major renovation of the facility. The first alteration was the relocation of the Children's Porch. A new subterranean wing, modern climate control, a sensitive refurbishing of the interior, and new furnishings were all part of the project. In 1986, a highly sophisticated on-line automated catalog and circulation system was installed.

In 1989, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission recognized what Pratt students, alumni, and faculty had known for decades. The fine rose brick and Belleville brownstone building which had delighted members of the Pratt community and visitors alike, since 1896, was officially designated a New York City Landmark.

In the fall of 1994, a second-generation on-line automated system was installed, improving the power of the catalog and building the infrastructure for links with other networks. Currently, a new telecommunications system at Pratt enables the Library to surpass the uses of those few early house telephones and speaking tubes. Electronic handshakes with Pratt's Internet node facilitates our exploration of resources world-wide. Special access codes will allow students, faculty, alumni, and administrators to access the catalog and other information resources housed in the Library from any remote site linked to the Internet.
Today, the Sienna marble remains, and once again the pleasing soft tints of the walls glow. A large supply of general reading material serving a broadly defined public has given way to an astoundingly fine collection of materials of visual and intellectual interest to a student body hungry for such resources. Not only are books and periodicals chosen with care, but newer moving image and electronic resources are added weekly to enlarge the offerings available to support and enrich the Institute's curriculum.

Though many challenges have been met in preserving and revitalizing the building and the services it houses, still more challenges face the operations of the Pratt Library as it enters its second hundred years in its landmark home. As the scope of available information mounts, the complexities of matching information and information seekers grow as well. A tradition of one hundred years of service in the exquisite library building provides a strong foundation for continued success.

by F. William Chickering, Former Dean of Libraries




Images above are from Pratt Libraries Photograph Collection.



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