History of the Library – Part I

click any image to enlarge

Each year Hopkins welcomes new students and faculty who may not know the history behind one of the academic world's most renowned libraries. So, sit back as we tell the story of the Hopkins library, from the very beginning. This history will be divided into three monthly segments. This first segment covers the years 1876 to 1916.

Not long after The Johns Hopkins University opened its doors in 1876, President Daniel Coit Gilman remarked, “There is no such thing as a strong university apart from a great library.”  However, the trustees decided early that they would strive to attract the best faculty possible, and buildings and other amenities would command a lower priority. The original Arts and Sciences campus, located at the intersection of West Monument and Howard streets, was close to the George Peabody Library. While this library was not then affiliated with Hopkins, it possessed an extensive reference collection and served the young university admirably, allowing President Gilman to concentrate on attracting faculty and students and setting up laboratories.

While the Peabody Library served as the University's primary scholarly resource, Hopkins did not ignore the need for a library of its own. As early as 1874, the Trustees purchased several volumes to aid them in planning the new university. These became the nucleus of a library collection that, when Hopkins opened in October 1876, comprised just over two hundred fifty volumes. Early library directors were members of the faculty and overseeing the library was considered an ancillary duty. Perhaps as a result, the first three years saw three librarians come and go. In 1879, William Hand Browne became librarian and set about creating a first class repository. His predecessors, although of short tenure, had acquired books actively so that by 1879 the collection numbered nearly ten thousand volumes.

By 1891, foretelling a trend, the rooms allotted to the library, in Hopkins Hall, became inadequate. Browne resigned to resume a faculty career, and was succeeded by Nicholas Murray. President Gilman urged the Trustees to consider a new building to house the library. Just three years later, Gilman's recommendation was satisfied when McCoy Hall opened. The library occupied the fourth floor in this large building, as well as portions of other floors.  While there was a main reading room and a general collection, the bulk of the collection was divided into “departmental libraries.” In addition to book stacks, these libraries included seminar rooms lined with departmental collections. This arrangement, which was thought appropriate to the “university idea” of advanced research, became a strong tradition at Hopkins and remained in place for seventy years.  In line with this plan, most scientific works were dispersed to the various laboratories. Nicholas Murray resigned in 1908, after a fire in McCoy Hall caused major damage.  Handwritten accession books include the note, “Burned September 17, 1908,” for many entries.

Murray’s successor, M. Llewellyn Raney, oversaw the rebuilding of the library and its collections.  As the library grew, once again it filled its available space. This time, growth coincided with the University’s move to the Homewood Campus in 1916. The original campus had always been temporary, since there was little room for expansion.

Stay tuned for History of the Library, Part II...

America Recycles Day – November 15th

Did you know that November 15th is America Recycles Day - a national initiative to keep America beautiful?

Our library is proud to do its part and you can too by recycling paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, foil and metal. Just drop your clean recyclables into one of the bins throughout the library; these are located near the exits in Brody Learning Commons (BLC) and Milton S. Eisenhower Library (MSEL) and near stairwells. Paper and cardboard go into blue bins, while all other recyclables go in green bins.

Have your batteries run out of juice? Recycle them in the MSEL copy/print room on M-level! Have your pens, pencils or markers stopped doing their job? Drop them off in the copy/print rooms of either MSEL on M-Level or BLC on B-level!

If you're curious as to what else can be recycled, stop by Levering Courtyard between 11:00am-1:30pm on November 15th and chat with Homewood Recycling. They'll tell you why and how your recyclables make a difference, and how you can close the recycling loop.

You can also drop off your clean, empty containers of personal care and beauty items (such as shampoo, conditioner, and gel bottles), dental hygiene items (such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss containers), and protein/granola bar wrappers. These can be up-cycled into something awesome! Win-win!

Homewood Recycling will also be raffling off items from Terracycle, a company that recycles hard-to-recycle items, from chewed up bubble gum to hairballs (no kidding!) -- even those pens, pencils, markers and batteries you drop into our collection bins.


This week, "like" Homewood Recycling's Facebook page to enter their raffle for a chance to win one of 10 prizes. If you've already "liked" their Facebook page, you can share their America Recycles Day posts and tag a JHU friend to be entered. The contest will run from November 13th through November 17th.

Good luck and thanks for helping us make a difference!


ResearchGate and Sharing Your Articles

ResearchGate is a scholarly collaboration network (SCN) that gives researchers a place to describe their work, ask questions, and share documents.

The 'share documents' part of that has received a lot of attention lately. A group of publishers, the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, have brought a lawsuit against ResearchGate and are also sending take down notices to individual authors. (See also here, here, and here; and that's just a few.)

Why? Because copyright doesn't align with long-standing traditions of researchers.

Researchers understand that if a publisher requests a transfer of copyright when they publish an article, then the publisher owns the copyright. Authors lose the right to freely and publicly share the published version of the article.

Researchers also have a long tradition of sharing their articles with colleagues, upon request. That wasn't much of a problem in the print era. And once email became commonplace, publishers understood that authors would share article PDFs when collaborators requested them.

ResearchGate and other sharing platforms have made this kind of sharing easy, and enabled that sharing to move to the network level. The graph in this post indicates that more individuals visit ResearchGate than visit SciHub, a notorious site for pirated journal articles. We don't know if all of those visits to ResearchGate result in a document being shared, but it's indicative of the size of the situation.

Publishers, who own the copyright of most of these articles, are concerned for a variety of reasons.

  • Legal - If an author shares a version of record to which they don't own the copyright, they are breaking the law. Authors can often share pre- or post-prints, which don't infringe copyright, but they have to spend the time to figure that out by reading their publisher agreements or accessing sites like SHERPA/RoMEO.
  • Financial - Sharing the version of record freely can take revenue from publishers. Researchers who don't have a subscription, or whose institutions don't have a subscription, can obtain the article at no cost instead of purchasing it from the publisher.
  • Data - Publishers (and libraries) are interested in counting how many times individual articles are downloaded, accessed, stored, etc. The sharing that goes on through ResearchGate can't be tracked by the publishers. One wonders if ResearchGate intends to sell that data to the publishers.

So, if you received a take down notice or ResearchGate turned your articles private, you need to figure out if you shared the correct version of your article. The Library provides links to some tools here. You can also contact me, Robin Sinn, with specific questions.

Digital Scholarship Seminar Series: Maintaining Diversity in the Digital World

Following the successful launch of the Digital Scholarship Seminar Series last academic year, we’re inviting you to join us again for more stimulating discussions on how digital projects and tools impact scholarship. This year we’re continuing our theme of digital diversity as this has provoked some extraordinary conversations over the past year (see below for an explanation of digital diversity).

On Wednesday, November 29, 2017, we will be welcoming Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, Anisfield-Wolf SAGES Fellow and Lecturer at Case Western Reserve University to present “The Signal Never Dies: Transgender and Digital Communities.” Co-sponsored by JHU’s LGTBQ Life, Dr Bychowski will explore how the relative lack of physical "trans spaces" (bars, neighborhoods, etc.) has created a vacuum wherein the internet has become such a space where most trans people (especially youths) engage in community for the first time; she will also consider how it often falls to digital realms to mourn the dead and transform their memory into activism. The seminar will take place at 5pm in BLC 4040.


Spring 2018 semester, noted digital humanist and medievalist, Dorothy Kim will join us to discuss oft-neglected parts of the history of digital humanities (DH). Often seen as a space of both academic and social progression, DH nonetheless has a past that insects with discrimination and oppression. If DH is truly to be a positive force, we must face its foundations.

Photo of Frederick Douglass: African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman

Frederick Douglass: African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. (ca. 1818 - 1895)

Our first seminar was a joint event with the Special Collections Research Center: Mapping Frederick Douglass and took place on Thursday, October 19th at 5pm in the BLC Macksey Seminar Room 2043. Presented by Lawrence Jackson, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of History and English, and Jim Gillispie, GIS Librarian and Curator of Maps, the seminar will explore the process of mapping sites in Baltimore that Douglass wrote about in his autobiography. A social reformer, abolitionist, and author, Douglass had spent many years as a slave in Maryland before escaping and becoming a noted orator and statesman.





We want to put questions of diversity and inclusion center stage as we develop our support for digital scholarship here in the Library. Without attention to this topic we can’t think seriously about how digital tools and methodologies might help and enable, but also hinder and discriminate against expressions of human identity, culture, and history. The theme is intended to be broad to encourage participants interested in issues of diversity including race, gender, sexuality, disability, and faith.

Visit the Digital Scholarship Facebook page for more information.

RCO “Trick or Treat” – Tuesday, October 31st, 10 am – 8 pm

Image of a sketched skeleton by James Gregory, 1864.

Skeleton. James G. Gregory, New York: 1864.

What’s that dark shadow creeping in the corner?!? Yes, it’s your term paper, lurking and looming as the witching hour of the semester draws near. Each day you procrastinate your research, it’s shade deepens and grows more terrifying. EEK! Like the sinister words of  Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Raven," the specter speaks only in omens, driving you from your dorm in desperation.

If only there was someone who could help you get started, who could help you find the sources you need, who could help you figure out what your professor means by “scholarly.” Then you could defeat that demon research project that hovers so hauntingly. Alas, there is! Delivering both tricks—for defeating the research demons—and treats—of the candy kind, are your friendly research librarians.

Halloween at The Peabody

On Halloween, stop by the Research Consultation Office for Tricks and Treats between 10:00 am and 8:00 pm. In addition to a cauldron of candy, you’ll find tricks for getting started on your research, finding the best books and articles, and citing your sources. You can also learn tricks for finding spooky sources to suit your own Halloween habits, like horror and film noir features in our DVD collection, or frightful fiction (now that you’ve got that research paper in the bag).

FUN TRICK! To whet your appetite, here’s a fun trick. You can use the library database American Community Survey to find facts related to Halloween, like the tidbit that the U.S. imports $12.4 million in pumpkins!

JHU Libraries Support Open Access

The first Open Access Week blog post looked at how and why individual researchers and groups within JHU make their research openly available. Now it's time to tell you the variety of ways that the JHU Libraries support open research.

Support of Open Platforms

JHU Libraries support several groups that provide platforms where researchers can make their research openly available. They include:

Discounted Open Access Charges

We work with OA journal publishers to provide discounted Article Processing Charges (APC) to JHU authors.

Support of Open Content

JHU Libraries also support groups experimenting with open publishing. This can be books, journals, and other forms of research.



Curious about any of these and want to learn more?  Send me an e-mail:  rsinn@jhu.edu.





EVENT: Doing Medicine in Space, October 26th


  • Date: Thursday, October 26, 2017
  • Time: 5:30-6:30 Social Hour; 6:30 talk by Dr. Feinberg
  • Place: Mason Hall
  • RSVP required!

Dr. Andrew Feinberg leads the Johns Hopkins Center for Epigenetics, and in December 2015 was appointed a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor.He can also tell you how to do genetic research in space, because Feinberg is the principal investigator on the NASA Astronaut Twins Study.

Photo of NASA astronauts and twin brothers Scott Kelly and Mark Kelly.

NASA astronauts and twin brothers Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly.

American astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly are identical twins, and part of NASA's HumanResearch Program, which involves studying the biological differences between identical twins when one is on Earth and one is in space. Scott spent a year on the International Space Station (ISS), from March 27, 2015 until March 1, 2016 (it felt longer). Scott and his twin Mark (now retired) gave biosamples and participated with investigators to help assess any longitudinal changes. The team was interested in the differences in molecular profiles, such as changes in immune response. Read more about NASA's "One-Year Mission.")

Photo of NASA's International Space Station

NASA's International Space Station

A 2016 article by Feinberg mentions that for some analyses of human blood cells, "long-term preservation of... cells requires their isolation and transfer into appropriate freezing media." Feinberg comments, "There are currently no protocols for these cellular isolation procedures on the International Space Station (ISS)... Even being able to collect human biosamples on board the ISS is "fairly limited." (Surprise.)

This Conversations in Medicine event is sponsored by the Hopkins Parents Fund and Space@Hopkins.


“Open in Order to” – Open Access Week 2017

"Open in Order to" is the theme of 2017's Open Access Week.

"Open in order to" invites us to share our reasons for making our research, data, journal articles, and educational materials openly and freely available!  Below are examples of the ways people and groups at JHU have openly shared research and educational information.

Open Access to Research Articles

Why do researchers make their articles freely available? Many do so because because the funder requires it; examples of this include the NIH Public Access Policy and the OSTP memo of 2013. Often researchers want to make their research available as soon as possible, to move science forward quickly and to "stake their claim." Sometimes researchers want to avoid using commercial publishers. Often they want the general public to have access to the research, to improve public health or let study participants see the articles. There are other reasons, as well. Below are links to sets of articles made freely available by JHU authors on different Open Access platforms; there are many more open articles authored by JHU researchers out there.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

OERs give faculty the ability to reuse and tailor teaching materials to suit their course needs. OERs also keep money in students' pockets by reducing the cost of a textbook to zero. There are several institutions and groups creating and promoting the use of OERs at the college level.

Here at JHU, Marian Feldman, History of Art and Near Eastern Studies, needed up-to-date materials to teach a course on Mesopotamian art. Dr. Feldman was awarded a Technology Fellows grant from the Center for Educational Resources to create openly available educational material about Mesopotamian art.

On a larger scale, the Bloomberg School of Public Health shares many of its educational materials with the world on the JHSPH Open Courseware platform. The School of Public Health clearly makes a connection between their mission: Protecting Health, Saving Lives - Millions at a Time, and providing open educational materials to the world.

Open Books

Open Access books (that aren't textbooks) are less common than Open Access articles.  I know of only one JHU author who has made their book openly available. If there are others, please tell us about them in the Comments.

Lester Spence's book Knocking the Hustle was freely available as an ebook six months after publication. At the end of an interview in the Hub, Spence talks about his reason for this choice.

Open Data

Since there are many open data repositories, it's difficult to find where individual JHU researchers have posted open data. Instead I've provided some examples of open data sets that JHU makes openly available.


Time and the Semester Wait for No Instructor! Download a PowerPoint Today!

Download images from Artstor.

Stressed out? Exhausted? Have a hundred and one things to do? Looking for images this fall semester? The Visual Resources Collection and Artstor are here to help, and to let you know that you’re just a few clicks and keywords away from a finished PowerPoint!

JHU faculty, students, and staff have access to Artstor and its more than 2 million images, plus the 160,000 local images in the JHU Visual Resources Collection and all of the images in Shared Shelf Commons (a free, open-access library of images contributed by institutions all over the globe).

Not only can you create image groups and download images from Artstor, you can also download those same images as a PowerPoint file! The metadata will be included in the notes portion of each slide.

Job, Herbert Keightley (photographer, American, July 1913. Ornithology; Lantern slides; Birds -- Canada).

New images are being added to these collections all the time. For example, Artstor has recently added 36,000 images from the Center for Creative Photography, 10,000 additional photographs and cartoons from Condé Nast, and more than 35,000 additional images in photojournalism from Magnum Photos. These new images supplement a hearty existing collection. For example, from Artstor collections, you have access to the Islamic Art and Architecture Collection (Sheila Blair, Jonathan Bloom, Walter Denny), Barbara Anello's Photographs of graffiti in New York City, and the Tenniel Civil War Cartoon Collection from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. As for Shared Shelf Commons, there’s the Enders Ornithology Lantern Slides from the Trinity College Watkinson Library, the Artists' Books Collection from Bucknell University, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union Photographs from Cornell University, and Exhibition Installation History from the Menil Collection.

Barnett Newman: The Late Work exhibition

Curator: Michelle White, Brad Epley. Exhibition Designer: Brooke Stroud. Originating Institution: The Menil Collection. Barnett Newman: The Late Work.

While historically focused on the history of art, the JHU Visual Resources Collection is constantly evolving to support other areas of research throughout the arts and sciences. For example, we have recently added photographs taken at the Kennedy Space Center in the 1960s, included in our collection thanks to photographer Jon Proctor’s generosity (search “Jon Proctor” in Artstor to find them all).

Need help downloading a PowerPoint or searching Artstor? Want a one-on-one training session or a group training session? Contact the VRC at vrc@jhu.edu, and visit the Visual Resources Collection guide for more information. Download the VRC's Artstor at JHU Quickstart Guide for the basics of using Artstor. Need images not available in ARTstor? Click here to access our interactive pdf order form.

For more ways to find images, see the Images page on the library's Art History guide and see the Finding Images guide.

Madrid, Urban Poetry

An Exhibition by Fernando Sánchez
10.24.17 - 11.15.17
MSE Library Q Level

Opening Reception:
Thursday, October 24th @ 6:00pm
Featuring a talk by the artist
Hor d'oeuvres & refreshments


Fernando Sánchez is one of the leading photojournalists in Spain. He began his photographic work for the newspaper Público in 2008 and, since 2012, has worked for the newspaper La Marea. He was a finalist for the FOTOCAM award in 2012 and 2014 for his work documenting the effects of Spain’s economic crisis.

The present exhibition, Madrid, Urban Poetry, focuses on the effects of the Great Recession on Spain’s capital. The Great Recession reached its height in Spain in 2012, when overall unemployment rates reached over 25% and youth unemployment rates surpassed 55%. Today, the country is still recovering from an unemployment crisis and subsequent austerity measures that crushed the lives of people between the ages of 16-35 who have come to be known as la generación perdida (“the lost generation”).

Madrid, Urban Poetry shows the Spanish capital’s many faces, of all shapes and sizes and expressions. Covering the past seven years, the exhibition captures how the city, through portraits of everyday life, has been shaped by the passing of time amidst the Great Recession. It also showcases the economic divide between center and periphery at the heart of Spain’s largest metropolitan area, and registers the fissures that even the tourist areas of downtown Madrid can’t entirely cover up.

Madrid, Urban Poetry is Fernando’s most personal of his exhibitions, which have been shown across Spain—Madrid, Barcelona, and elsewhere—and, most recently, at Princeton University. For anyone interested in the visual arts, contemporary Europe, or the state of journalism, this exhibition will invite you to rethink the relationship between the economics, politics, and visual representation of “crisis.”

Artist’s website: www.fernandosanchezphoto.com