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: “Is the library strictly academic or are there recreational books as well?”

A: We all know that, occasionally, we all need a break. Not only because it feels good but because it gives us the chance to refresh our minds and recharge our batteries. Our academic pursuits, for as much as we love them, must be supplemented with relaxation and recreation. Reading recreationally helps us reduce stress and improve our mental state. We are often asked if the library has recreational books to meet this need.

The answer to this question is that while we do have many books (and other formats) that are entertaining and many that graced the best-seller lists, it is not something we collect systematically. If an author is well-known or may be studied by our English or Writing Seminars faculty, there is a good chance we will collect it. That being said, collecting the newest popular titles is not our priority. We are not actively chasing after the next Twilight, Da Vinci Code, or Harry Potter (though you will find many books discussing Harry Potter – you will not find the Harry Potter titles themselves).

If you need that type of book in your life, Baltimore has an excellent public library system, the Enoch Pratt Free Library. A library card from the Enoch Pratt Free Library also gives you borrowing privileges from the Baltimore County Public Library system. In addition to books, you can also access streaming entertainment, DVDs, video games, and so much more.

Outside of media, you can also check out things like bike repair kits, sewing machines, musical instruments, cameras, microscopes, and more. The Pratt Library has a great speaker’s program as well as opportunities for free legal advice, sign language courses, passport services, and so much more. It is this librarian’s personal opinion that having a local public library card should be as necessary as a social security number!

So what are you waiting for?! Get out to your public library and take advantage of its great services while participating in your community!