We, librarians, are fortunate that we get to meet a lot of incoming Hopkins students. We often request that they give us their “burning questions” — about Baltimore, Hopkins, the library, life and love, etc. We’ve curated some of their questions and their answers into a series of blog posts that we hope will address some “burning questions” of your own.

Q: “Does Baltimore have any good indie bookshops or record stores?”

A: Heck yeah, we do!

For you bibliophiles, we’ve got some recommended shops, all of which are independent and local. Not only that but they’ve got personality by the boatload!

For you crate diggers, Baltimore has some great music/record shop options spread throughout the city.

For the sake of easy reading, let me break it into a list (in no specific order).


  1. Bird in Hand on 33rd Street is perhaps the option closest to the Homewood Campus.
  2. Greedy Reads on 29th Street in Remington (they have a second location in Fells Point) is another option close to campus.
  3. Red Emma’s is a third nearby option. Red Emma’s is a radical, worker-owned cooperative bookshop and café, named after famous anarchist and feminist, Emma Goldman.
  4. Normals Books and Records is only slightly further than our previous listings but is still within a brisk walk’s distance. Normals has an awesome selection of books and records and a lot of personality to boot.
  5. Atomic Books, is in the opposite direction and slightly further than our previous options, but it’s well worth the trip. In Atomic Books, you’ll find a quirky shop with lots of graphic novels, zines, and local interest publications.
  6. The Ivy, While a bit further away, The Ivy is owned by a Baltimore native.
  7. The Book Thing is as much an event as it is a bookshop and a unique Baltimore institution. What makes The Book Thing so special is that all of its books are free. That is correct. The Book Thing accepts donated books and redistributes them to the community free of charge.


  1. The Sound Garden, Fells Point: Occupying a huge warehouse and with an equally huge selection, The Sound Garden has won numerous awards, including the second-best record store in the United States by Rolling Stone Magazine. They are also well-known for in-store events and performances by some great bands.
  2. True Vine, Station North – Not to be outdone, True Vine is also an award-winning record shop (#15 on Rolling Stones’ list) with a great vibe. It’s not the largest shop on the list but it has a great collection of unique and eclectic stuff. You’re sure to find something interesting.
  3. Baby’s on Fire, Mt. Vernon: Not far from the Peabody library, this is a cool spot for records, coffee, and cafe-style eats.
  4. Mount Vernon Records, Mt. Vernon: Not far at all from Baby’s on Fire, you could visit the Peabody Library, My. Vernon Records, and Baby’s on Fire as part of a music-themed field trip.
  5. Vinyl and Pages, Mt. Vernon: If you can add one more destination to your music-themed field trip, Vinyl and Pages is a Black-owned record and book shop and community space that’s worth a visit.
  6. Celebrated Summer Records, Hampden: Celebrated Summer has a great selection of new and used records with a particular focus on punk, metal, and hardcore records – although they have other genres and an international section as well. Plus, the owner/operator, Tom Pence, is a veritable archive of local punk history.
  7. El Suprimo Records, Fells Point: Just a few blocks from the water in hip neighborhood, Fells Point, El Suprimo has a huge inventory of used music in all sorts of formats.
  8. Protean Books and Records, Federal Hill: Just a stone’s throw from M&T and Camden Yards, Protean has been around for over a decade and offers records, movies, and video games!

Happy hunting!