Libraries Through the Ages–Part I

If you are reading this post, chances are you have spent time in one of our library buildings or at least used our online resources. But how much do you really know about the history of libraries? To complement our running history of the Hopkins library, this post begins a three-part history of libraries in general.

A good definition of the term "library" comes from page 8 of the e-book How to Build a Digital Library. The authors call libraries “institutions that arrange for the preservation, collection, and organization of material, as well as for access to it.” Modern brick and mortar libraries collect books, journals, maps, manuscripts, photographs, and a host of other physical formats. Most academic libraries also create digital collections such as the Roman de la Rose Digital Library. You are probably familiar with both public libraries and academic libraries, but there are also school libraries, national libraries, and special libraries. The latter includes law libraries, business libraries, medical libraries, museum libraries, and prison libraries. Katharine Hepburn is wonderful as a corporate librarian in the 1957 movie Desk Set.

In case you can’t wait for the series to get rolling, you might want to do some investigating on your own. Try The Library: An Illustrated History  for a recent comprehensive history or browse through the issues of Information and Culture for scholarly articles about library history. The American Library Association even has a Library History Round Table for serious library history geeks. Check out their Twitter feed  for news about conferences, grants, and more.

In subsequent blog posts we will describe how libraries have changed through the centuries and highlight some unusual collections. You may even hear about librarians in literature and popular culture. Please comment on this post if you want to alert us to your favorite library!

Post-Graduation Research Resources

Graduated recently? The Alumni Association is pleased to offer Hopkins KnowledgeNET, the Hopkins Online Alumni Library, to all Hopkins graduates. You'll have access to some of the library resources you’ve used as a student, including thousands of journal articles and other resources. Alumni have used HKNET resources for ongoing research, career development, and even to enhance their travel with Alumni Journeys! And we’re always looking ahead, seeing what new resources and services we can offer, piloting projects with interested vendors and staying on top of the alumni library landscape.

We’re very excited that this year marks our ten year anniversary—a real milestone among online alumni libraries. We were one of the first universities to create an online library for alumni because we wanted to make sure that our alums have access to quality online resources after graduation. The Sheridan Libraries partnered with the Alumni Association in 2004 to launch HKNET, and it's still going strong! So 2014 grads, make sure to check out the HKNET resources on the Alumni & Friends website. Contact the Alumni Association at or 1-800-548-5481 for more information. And congratulations on your own milestone!

JHU Alumni, This is for You!

You've graduated: congratulations!

How does your new status affect how you can use the library? Here is information that will help you.

You can enter the library IF

  • you show the guard some form of photo ID (e.g., driver's license, passport, ID from another institution of higher ed,...)

You can borrow our books IF

You can access our online resources IF

  • you come to campus and use a Hopkins computer

You can remotely access selected electronic resources IF

For information about your RefWorks account,

  • Look at the box called "Leaving Hopkins?" (on the left of this page of the Refworks Guide)

For more information about all of this, please read our guide entitled "Information for Alumni."

Have a wonderful future!

Commencement through the Years

The Johns Hopkins University conferred its first degrees in 1878, two years after our founding (four PhDs). The first undergraduate degrees were conferred in 1879 (three BAs). However, until 1884, there were no Commencement exercises, and it was not until 1886 that diplomas were awarded to graduates. According to John C. French, in A History of the University Founded by Johns Hopkins, the first diplomas were “phrased quite simply in English, and bearing the official seal.”

The first printed Commencement programs, preserved in the University Archives, were simple folded sheets of paper. As late as the 1950s, programs were black ink on white paper, with no embellishments except the University Seal. In 1958, the first color cover appeared on a Commencement program.

While the first four Commencement ceremonies (1884-1887) were held on Hopkins’ original campus (in the vicinity of Howard and Monument streets), the event quickly grew too large. So, for most years from 1888 through 1943, Commencement ceremonies were held off-campus, in area churches, the Academy of Music, and the Lyric Theater.

In 1944, due to the ongoing world war, Commencement was held on July 3, but this marks the first time that Commencement took place on the Homewood Campus, in front of Gilman Hall, using the steps and terrace as a stage. For many years, this event took place open to the elements, but in the 1970s, the University began erecting a tent, covering most of the quad, and this practice continued through 2000.

Due to a major landscaping project that began in summer 2000, a tent was no longer feasible, due to irrigation pipes. It was decided to move Commencement to Homewood Field in 2001. Many graduates have fond memories of attending Commencement among the academic buildings, but the seating at Homewood Field accommodates more people and gives a better field of view to those watching their friends and family graduate.

Spring DIY

At long last the snows have cleared and Spring is upon us. What better time to get back to the earth, get your hands dirty, and DoItYourself?

Our country has, in some way or another, been a DIY nation since its early days. Be it gardening, cooking, distilling, or dressmaking, early Americans made and did by hand because often there was no other reasonable option.

As time progressed and the nation became wealthier and more mechanized, a sense of what was lost in an earlier age began to grow. Perhaps this is best exemplified in the work of philosopher, naturalist, and ardent-DIY'er Henry David Thoreau. Amidst the proprieties and formality of New England society, Thoreau sought an individualism that could express itself in an authentic life. Thoreau's experiment at Walden is itself a great example of how making carries a political message.

Today, the DIY spirit is alive, strong, and growing. Crafters, artisans, gardeners, brewers, and so on have turned making into a movement and a message. Tired of the rising tide of throw-away culture, DIYers aim to make creation part and parcel of daily life. So pick up a shovel, dust off the sewing machine, and get out there and make something!

Google NGram Viewer — “Culturomics”?

NgramViewerThe NGram Viewer from Google made a splash when it was introduced in December of 2010. It is essentially a data-mining application that enables queries against Google's massive digitized books corpus.  Researchers behind the Google Books project wrote about the Viewer in the ambitiously titled Science article "Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books." Some of the ways the tool has been used include exploring social and political change in China , the evolution of marketing history, and changes in the popularity of specific drugs. The authors called this "culturomics," and defined it as "the application of high-throughput data collection and analysis to the study of human culture."
According to that article, the "oldest works were published in the 1500s. The early decades are represented by only a few books per year... By 1800, the corpus grows to 60 million words per year; by 1900, 1.4 billion; and by 2000, 8 billion."

However, remember some of the limitations of the N-gram Viewer:

  • Google Books consists of only about 4% of all books ever written
  • the data end in 2008
  • the project is only books, and most of them come from libraries, meaning that  popular culture isn't really reflected
  • it takes about a decade for events or trends to start being reflected in literature
  • the graphs are sized for easy viewing, but the numbers on the X axis are usually tiny

Use commas to separate your words or phrases, and it's CASE-SENSITIVE, so if you're looking up proper names, use capital letters. LET'S PLAY!

  • Greece, Italy, Athens, Rome -- Boy, Rome has really gotten attention over the years. (Not much recently, though.)
  • dogs, cats, dog, cat -- What on earth is that giant “cat” spike?? It’s between about 1612 and 1624. To look more closely, you can either enter those dates, or scroll to the bottom of the page, choose a date range, and see what kinds of books are listed. Oh, I see – it’s all kinds of usages of those three letters together, including abbreviations and non-English words. But it sure looks impressive.
  • Our interest in sharks certainly keeps growing. Note the blip at 1974, when Jaws was written.
  • black hole, worm hole, wormhole -- What’s that “black hole” peak between 1610 and 1618? When I focus the date, it looks like there are two peaks, at 1610 and 1618. A search of Google Books for 1610-1618 gives two results. They’re both referring to the same thing – a prison.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr -- Tumblr and Instagram got zero hits – this means that (1) through 2008, (2) they were mentioned in fewer than 40 books (3) that had been scanned by Google. No surprise, since they were launched in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

What groups of words or phrases would you like to see displayed in the N-gram Viewer?  Here’s how to do more advanced searches -- the Viewer is more powerful than you realize!  If you want even more information, here’s their page about datasets.

Good-bye, farewell, ta-ta, have a nice day!


What’s the Dirt?

Guest blogger: Macie Hall, from the CER's Innovative Instructor.

Logo for the DiRT -- Digital Research Tools directory. The word dirt with the i shown as a light-bulb.Looking for a tool (preferably free and easy to use) for a scholarly project?  Maybe you need to clean up, model, or interpret data. Perhaps you are looking at ways to visualize information, or you have a large number of audio files that you have to transcribe. Building a website for your project? Trying to learn how to program? Look no further, here’s DiRT, Digital Research Tools. “The DiRT Directory is a registry of digital research tools for scholarly use. DiRT makes it easy for digital humanists and others conducting digital research to find and compare resources ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mindmapping software.” Beyond your own scholarly endeavors, think of how these tools could be used by your students for their course research projects.

The welcome page greets uses with “I need a research tool to…” followed by a long list of possible tasks.  Each category has a number of suggested tools. Many of these are free and open source, many have been developed at universities to accommodate specific faculty scholarly needs.

There are several ways to search for tools beyond the list of tasks. Searching bycategory will lead you to the TaDiRAH (Taxonomy of Digital Research Activities in the Humanities) listing. “TaDiRAH breaks down the research lifecycle into high-level “goals”, each with a set of “methods. …In addition to goals/methods, TaDiRAH includes open lists of ‘techniques’ (which are more specific than methods, and may be used with more than one method) and ‘research objects’.” This will give you and your students another way to think about and find tools appropriate for your needs.

You don’t need an account to use DiRT to find a tool. If you want to add a review of a tool,  have found something that you like to use that isn’t listed on DiRT and would like to add it, or have developed a tool that you want to share, it is easy to create an account for these purposes.

Helping Your Patients

ambulance9You want to be the very best RN, MD, PT, NP, OT, PA, or other kind of health professional that you can.  You want to be understanding, kind, compassionate, and empathetic with your patients, those scared adults and children who are depending on you to help them.

But you worry about learning more about how to do this. In addition to shadowing medical professionals and working through other ways to gain experience, where else can you find out about what it's like to work with (or to be) patients? How will you relate to a dying patient or a patient from another culture? What are the crucial human qualities that you will need for every one of your interactions with sick or hurt people whom you want to help?

The films, print and online books, articles, editorials, poems, stories, and documentaries on this list are all worlds where you can go to learn more -- witness the range of emotions, detective work, errors, successes, and relationships between medical professionals and patients (and some medical professionals who have been patients).Rec resources by topic

For example:

Reading or viewing any of these resources will contribute to your holistic understanding of the world of health and medicine. Please explore this list, and please do let me know what you'd like to see added.

"Yours may be the last face that someone who is dying may see. Yours may be the first face that a new baby sees." Dr. Catherine DeAngelis (Conversations in Medicine, 2/18/16)

Jubilee: A Journey to the Italian Renaissance on M-Level

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Petrus Mallius, Paolo De Angelis, & Bernardini Tani, Basilicae veteris Vaticanae descriptio avctore Romano eiusdem Basilicae canonico (Rome, 1646).

Make a pilgrimage to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library’s M-level for JUBILEE: Roman Catholic Pilgrimage Culture in Papal Rome, 1500 – 1675, a rare book exhibition featuring beautifully illustrated books from the Italian Renaissance. The curator, senior Taylor Alessio, will give at talk about the exhibition on M-level at noon on Friday, April 29. Stop by and hear about her experiences working with rare books and contact relics.

These volumes from our special collections illustrate important aspects of Papal Jubilee years of the 16th and 17th centuries. The exhibition coincides with Pope Francis’ recent declaration of an “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy” throughout the Catholic world (December 9, 2015 to November 20, 2016), and brings exhibition visitors back in time to the origins of this important tradition.

Senior Taylor Alessio followed her passion for this aspect of European and Catholic history from the classroom to the Special Collections Reading Room. Alessio, a History of Art major in the Krieger School, was awarded a Sheridan Libraries Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award (DURA) in 2015 and spent the summer before her senior year investigating the culture of Jubilee pilgrimages and the indelible marks they left on the city of Rome.

The exhibition is a culmination of her research. “I am incredibly excited to share this project with my classmates and the greater Hopkins community. It was truly an honor and a privilege to spend time piecing together how this great tradition was experienced by pilgrims through this collection of rare books and unique historical objects.”

In early modern Europe, the celebration of Papal Jubilee years attracted millions of pilgrims to the city of Rome. Books printed for and about the events surrounding these anni santi provide unique insight into religious, political, and social life of the time, with volumes produced for a marketplace that ranged from the humblest pilgrims to Renaissance Popes.

Books featured in this exhibition explore and manifest the physical development of the city of Rome as a pilgrimage destination, the mental and physical qualities of pilgrimage, the cult of holy relics, and the proliferation of guide books and other sacred keepsakes from this period of Catholic Reformation.

With the Ottoman Turks in control of Jerusalem, Rome became the ultimate Catholic destination. The traditional spiritual benefits of pilgrimage were augmented by the sale of Holy Year indulgences, which some likened to rebaptism in their special power to remit sin and damnation. The urban fabric of the city of Rome itself had grown to awe-inspiring heights with the revival and expansion of the ancient city and the construction of the largest church in the world: the new St. Peter’s basilica at the Vatican.

Despite the challenges of physical danger, poor living conditions, food shortages, periodic lawlessness, and the threat of plague, pilgrims nonetheless flocked to Rome in the hundreds of thousands seeking personal salvation and the saving power and promise of holy relics.

Jubilee is on exhibit through June 1.

Winners Announced for the 2016 Student Book Collecting Contest

Student Book Collecting Contest 2016

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Betty and Edgar Sweren Student Book Collecting contest!

The annual competition, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Libraries and was endowed in 2007 by Betty and Edgar Sweren, recognizes the love of books and the art of shaping a thoughtful and focused book collection.

All undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a degree program at Johns Hopkins are eligible to enter.

“I look forward to this contest each year,” said Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums. “The judges had some tough choices to make this year, but it’s always a pleasure to discover these collections and the interesting individuals who assemble them. Thanks to everyone who entered the contest, and congratulations to our winners.”

First prize in the undergraduate division was awarded to senior Audrey Cockrum, a Writing Seminars major in the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, for her collection The Ever-Evolving Atlas of Amy Clampitt: Mapping Two Centuries of British and American Ecopoetry.

There was a tie for first prize in the graduate division, with Alexander Englert and Christine Lee each receiving top honors. Englert, a doctoral student in Philosophy in the Krieger School, won for his collection Philosophy in Times of Crisis: Jaspers, Arendt, and the Question of Our Shared Nature. Lee, who is pursuing a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, was recognized for Ekphrasis: Relating Words with Art, Thinking with the Eyes, Seeing with the Brain.

Undergraduate Ruth Marie Naime Landry, a junior Writing Seminars major, took second prize for Cities in Literature. Anna Moyer, a PhD student in Human Genetics at the School of Medicine, was awarded second prize in the graduate category for Coming Down to Earth: Improving Representations of Intellectual Disability in Literature and Memoir.

Third prize in the undergraduate division went to sophomore Gillian Marie Waldo, a Film and Media Studies major in the Krieger School, for From Apertures to Zoetropes: A Collection of Books on Cinema. There was no third prize awarded this year in the graduate category.

Stop by the Special Collections Reading Room on M-level of the Brody Learning Commons to see selections from this year’s winning collections. The books will be on display through May 31.