Chargers, Digital Pens and Laptop Locks, Oh My!

As the semester creeps ever closer, we at the Service Desk (formerly Circulation) would like to remind you that there are a multitude of things to check out other than books here at the library. The following are some invaluable items available at our desk on M Level.


  • Mac and Dell computer Chargers, iPhone 4 and 5 phone chargers, and micro-USB phone chargers.
  • Check out for 2 hours. You may renew them once.

Digital Pens

  • Use these at select group study locations in MSEL and BLC.
  • Check out for 4 hours. You may renew them once.


Laptop Locks

  • Use these to secure your laptop while studying in the library.
  • Check out for 4 hours. You may renew them once.

As long as you have borrowing privileges, all of these essential items are available for check out. So the next time you are in the library working on a paper and your laptop battery runs low, do not panic! Instead, come to your friendly neighborhood Service Desk for assistance!

Of Marginal Interest

Have you ever been warned by a teacher or librarian not to write in books? Rather than being harmful, it turns out that marginalia can often provide rich insight into the way readers have interacted with a book. They can even be the stuff of poetry. Baltimore's own Edgar Allan Poe wrote, "I have always been solicitous of an ample margin; this is not so much through any love of the thing in itself, however agreeable, as for the facility it affords me of penciling in suggested thoughts, agreements, and differences of opinion, or brief critical comments in general."

Marginalia can be more than just text--it often consists of drawings or other doodles. The medieval period seems to be especially rich in unusual marginalia. You can find many examples of animals or humans doing odd things. Our own Roman de la Rose Digital Library has many interesting examples including a nun harvesting from a penis tree and a dog wearing a Dominican habit followed by other dogs with the caption "veni mecum" or "follow me". On page 483 of his article in Speculum, Timothy Stinson tells us that the Dominican dog is a visual version of a pun "Domini canes" or "dogs of God".

Famous writers such as Herman Melville and John Keats were prolific creators of marginalia. This record of the reader experience can highlight areas of interest or dissent. Mark Twain, for example, could get downright nasty in his appraisal of the works of others. Samuel Beckett's cartoons and doodles in his manuscripts may shed light on his creative process. At the very least, it is humorous. For some writers, marginalia has become a creative expression on its own.

Hang on to those books that you are marking up for your classes--they may be valuable primary research material for some future scholar. But one word of warning: don't create marginalia in any library books. You may end up with a nasty curse!

Walking Back in Time

Charles Carroll, Jr. of Homewood (1775-1825), like many gentlemen of his time, was caught up in the excitement of current horticultural developments. He experimented with new varieties of plants, grafted roses, designed vegetable gardens, and planted an orchard at Homewood. In an 1801 letter to his wife, he describes an unfortunate incident in the orchard:

I am sorry to tell you that my blundering gardner [sic] has suffered the cow to get into the orchard and nip off the tops of almost all the trees – the cow (which is a little pranky at times) I mean to have butchered in the morning. (March 1801, letter to Harriet, private collection)

On an early spring day before the family moved to Homewood for the summer, Charles Carroll, Jr. might have ridden from his Baltimore townhouse to enjoy a stroll around his property. The trees would have leafed out, and flowers would be in bloom. Many years later in an 1819 rental advertisement for Homewood, Charles extols his property as follows:

The grounds, which are well watered, are handsomely bordered by wood, and the lawns have been carefully planted with groves and Clumps of forest trees. Besides a variety of the choicest fruits in prime bearing, there are two gardens suitable to the growth of early and late vegetables. In point of salubrity and rural scenery few situations are superior. (Federal Gazette, Baltimore Daily Advertizer, March 13, 1819.)

To imagine this landscape, walk around the campus to see what Charles might have seen. Although only 3 buildings survive from 1801, and the landscape has been seriously altered, one can imagine what might have been. Begin at the privy, which is very fancy with its brickwork and trim. Inside there are 2 compartments – one for males and one for females – and is paneled with chestnut. During this period there might have been fragrant plants around the privy. Pleasure gardens were probably planted behind Homewood, and the vegetable gardens may have been to the west where a farmhouse was located. The orchards occupied land near the dorms and across what is now Charles Street.

Continue your walk past the library and look at the stable/barn. This building, like Homewood House, is constructed of brick with Palladian windows, although these are Gothic in style. The only change in this structure was made to the front and lower doors, which were originally wood, not glass. Today it is called the Merrick Barn and is the home of the Undergraduate Program in Theatre Arts and Studies.

At this point the landscape begins to change; it becomes more hilly. When you arrive at the Baltimore Museum of Art’s sculpture garden, you will see what some of the Homewood property looked like – quite different from the upper parts of campus. In addition, there was no Charles Street or Art Museum Drive, and the roads that existed were at a much lower elevation. This is a perfect place to sit for a while – enjoy the garden, smell the flowers, and let your mind wander back in time.

If you want a longer walk that includes other points of interest such as the Mattin Center and the Baltimore Museum of Art, go the Homewood Museum website to learn about the Historic Homewood ArtWalk or download the podcast to explore the landscape on your own.

Recycling Roundup

Print room, M-level of MSEL

With summer upon us, the library literally becomes a second home for many of you as a refuge from the heat. All that note taking, coffee drinking and draft revising produces a good deal of waste. Before you chuck those scraps in the garbage, the library offers many disposal methods that are far more sustainable.

  • Paper recycling – save single-sided jobs for scrap, and when you’re done with double-sided, we have receptacles on every floor by the stairs and in the print rooms; don’t forget about cardboard!
  • Comingled recycling – use these bins for most everything besides paper, including hard plastics, glass, and metal
  • Composting – these containers are for all food waste, and you can even throw in paper plates and cups, napkins, towels, and tissues
  • Battery recycling – located in the print room on M-level of MSEL (pictured), this is a safer way to dispose of your AAs and AAAs
  • Pen recycling – in the same location, you can deposit any writing implement – pens, pencils, markers, and highlighters
  • Food wrapper recyclingOn Q-level of MSEL, you can throw out individual candy wrappers and the multipack plastic bags

We’re especially pleased with the last two programs, which are the newest to our recycling suite. You might rightly wonder, “How can you recycle pens or food wrappers?” The JHU Office of Sustainability connected us with a company that actually upcycles many items that would otherwise be landfill bound into useful consumer products like benches and purses. How cool!

Besides disposing of your waste in more responsible ways, how can you further support these so-called cradle to cradle products? As you begin holiday shopping, consider supporting local, independent businesses that carry such merchandise. Just think twice before reaching for that roll of wrapping paper!

But first things first, that final paper isn’t going to write itself. If you have a question about recycling or anything else, you know who to ask

The Dog Days of Summer

Is this Baltimore summer hot enough for you? You might say we have hit the heart of the "dog days" of summer. You might also wonder where the heck that phrase comes from! It turns out, the origin of the "dog days" of summer is far older and far more interesting than you might have thought.

Although the phrase sounds as if it could have come out of the American 50s, it turns out people referred to July and August as the "dog days" of summer as far back as Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt. The Romans connected the heat of summer with Sirius, known as the "Dog Star" as it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, or "Big Dog." During the conjunction of Sirius and the sun, the two stars are aligned as seen from earth. The twenty days before and after this conjunction are officially known as the "dog days" of summer and generally translate to the time-frame of July 3 to August 11. However, various interpretations exist and the "dog days" can mean generally any time from July through August (as people from Bawlmer well know, these can be the hottest days of the year!)

During the dog days of summer in Baltimore, there are many escapes from the heat and humidity. Visit the George Peabody Library (nicely air-conditioned!), the Homewood Museum or the Evergreen Museum and Library. Stay in and watch a good movie. Or read a good book! If you're brave enough to venture out into the heat, Baltimore offers a plethora of warm weather wonders. Check out Shakespeare in the Meadow with productions of both Much Ado about Nothing and Measure for Measure. Head down to Little Italy and watch a movie under the stars. Cool off with a swim in the Hopkins pool. Catch a ballgame. Or, take your dog for a walk (or a swim!) Just remember to bring along some water for your four-legged friend!

Charles Street — Baltimore’s Main Artery

As any Johns Hopkins student should know, arteries are the blood vessels that carry life-sustaining oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body. Similarly, it is easy to think of Charles Street--one of the oldest thoroughfares in the country--as the main artery of the city of Baltimore. Since the 1700's, Charles Street has supplied the life-blood of culture, education, and commerce to Baltimore.

Charles Street is the dividing line between streets designated as "west" or "east".  Starting in south Baltimore, the road passes through such varied neighborhoods as Federal Hill, Mt. Vernon, Charles Village and up into the leafy northern areas of Homeland and Roland Park. This beautiful and historic road has been designated as a National Scenic Byway by the Federal Highway Administration.

The cultural heart of the city, Mt. Vernon Place, is situated right on Charles Street. The magnificent Washington Monument and its surrounding parks are a beautiful oasis in the midst of a busy city. And this space is shared by two of the most important cultural institutions in the city, the Walters Art Museum and the George Peabody Library. Built in the early 1800s, Mt. Vernon Place has started showing the wear and tear of city life. But fortunately the Mt. Vernon Place Conservancy is giving both the monument and the surrounding area the restoration that they deserve.

Most of us see Charles Street through the window of a car or bus, but the best way is on foot. Pedestrians actually get the chance to look up and notice some of the great architectural detail found on the route. For many years Charles Street was the host to one of the city's two Easter Parades--the other was on Pennsylvania Avenue. The street is also the location of the annual Baltimore Pride Parade. Another important part of Charles Street that is getting a great pedestrian makeover is the stretch near the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus. And if you want to get some great exercise on Charles, you can enter the annual Charles Street 12 Miler footrace.

However you decide to experience, get out and enjoy all the history, beauty, and culture that Charles Street has to offer.

Beer: The Blog Post

"They who drink beer will think beer."
- Washington Irving (1783-1859)


The mere mention provokes desire and conjures thirst.

But is it thirst for the triple-hopped, top-fermented, and bottle conditioned adult beverage that you feel -- or thirst for knowledge about it? The library is, naturally, the place to go if you thirst after knowledge, even about beer.

The Sheridan Libraries have among their collections brimming tankards of beer scholarship. You might sip the hoppy Froth!: The Science of Beer, take a deep draught of the malty Every man his own brewer, or quaff the frothy Beer is Proof God Loves Us. The libraries have books and reports on the economics of beer and the beer industry, on the science of fermentation in beer production, on the history of brewing, and on legal issues surrounding the beer industry. Our holdings include beer-related books, serial publications, and at least one film that is utterly besotted with an all beer theme.

But are we awash in all things beer? Not really. We're missing the amber nectar itself.  For that, you'll have to slake your thirst elsewhere.

A Canadian film star once wished on screen to be:

"Someplace warm. A place where the beer flows like wine."


Web Archiving & the Wayback Machine

Would you like to see old versions of the website for your student group to find out who ran it and what they did? Or maybe you'd like to examine the content and presentation of on September 13, 2001 for a paper. What about browsing JHUNIVERSE -- JHU's first website -- and seeing its use statistics from 1996?

All of these things are possible because of the work of the nonprofit Internet Archive, which since 1996 has been saving copies of everything on the web that it can. Anyone can access those copies at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine by entering a website URL and browsing the timeline of captures.

Since 2012, the JHU library has partnered with the Internet Archive through its subscription service, Archive-It, which allows us to capture copies of websites that we select for the university's archives. These websites will be available through the JHU Archive-It page, which is currently under development.

Recently, the JHU Archives piloted a project using Archive-It to capture websites belonging to a small number of JHU-affiliated student groups (with their permission). Student groups often post important information about themselves like their officer lists, announcements of activities and photographs on their websites as well as on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. Since the Internet Archive does not crawl most of these sites by default, using a service like Archive-It is one of the best ways for the JHU Archives to ensure that this information is preserved. We hope to continue and greatly expand this project over the next year.

In addition to creating web archives related to a specific group or organization, some libraries have also used Archive-It to preserve content related to topics of research interest that might otherwise disappear. For example, Cornell University Library created an Archive-It collection on fracking in New York and the Internet Archive itself created a collection on the Occupy Movement of 2011/2012. The JHU Archives doesn't have plans for any thematic collections at this time, but should an event or subject arise that warrants it, we will be prepared to capture the ephemeral web-based content as a form of historical record.

We are interested in hearing from you about websites we should be capturing or ways in which we might use this exciting service. Leave a comment below or send the archives an email.

The Many Ways to Get Library Help

helpisonthewayThere are many ways to ask for help. Some folks prefer help in a face-to-face setting. Others are more comfortable on the phone, in a chat room, querying a database, or Googling around the Internet.

Knowing we're all so different, librarians offer different kinds of help for these different kinds of behavior. Here's hoping you find your preferred method on the list below!


If you're in MSEL, stop by our Information Desk and Research Consultation Office. (See our service hours.) You can also set up an appointment to meet with your librarian.

Phone, Chat, Tweet, Text, or Email
You can send us tweets, or emails. Text us at (410) 692-8874. We are also available via chat or telephone.

Query a Database
Frequent questions and answers are available 24/7 in our Ask a Librarian service.

The Ask a Librarian service is indexed by Google. Make sure you add JHU to your search terms to find us, rather than the library at Harvard or Yale.

New Service for Archiving Research Data

Johns Hopkins Data Management Services provides archiving services for the Johns Hopkins research community through the JHU Data Archive. These services give researchers the opportunity to share their data outside of original collaborations and beyond the life of a research project.

Beginning July 1st DMS offers a new service for archiving JHU researcher data collections. The new Small Data Collections Archiving Service is designed for researchers who want to provide online access to data collections associated with discrete research products such as publications, simulation models, experiments or a small project. This service is scoped to be cost effective while providing for access to, and preservation and discoverability of, research data collections.

We developed this new archiving service in response to researcher feedback we have received over the past two years. Over the past few months we solicited a dozen faculty and staff across JHU Schools for their input on a proposal of this service and have incorporated their feedback.

Unlike our Large Data Collections Single Grant Archiving Service, funding for the Small Data Collections Archiving Service does not need to be tied a grant. Thus this service could be used for sharing and archiving legacy research data or data collections originated from multiple projects.

The Small Data Collections Archiving Service does not supersede the Large Data Collections Single Grant Archiving Service; both are in effect as of July 1st. Johns Hopkins researchers may find the Large Data Collections Single Grant Archiving Service more appropriate for archival of research data from larger projects tied to a grant.

Details on this new service are available on our website. We will work with researchers to determine if either archiving service is the best fit for their needs, and will provide prepared language describing service for its inclusion in data management plans and proposals.

Please contact us at with any questions or comments!


Jonathan Petters, Data Management Consultant, Johns Hopkins Data Management Services

Johns Hopkins Data Management Services provides the JHU research community a) consultative support on data management plans for proposals, b) guidance on aspects of research data management through seminars and workshops, and c) archival of data collections through the JHU Data Archive. Contact us at with your research data management questions.