Category Archives: Hopkins

Summer Reading Survey Results 2016

So Long Sweet Summer

Courtesy of Meg Bisson, Katie Slater Photography

Hello and welcome to another exciting year at Hopkins! Here in Calarco we’ve got new textbooks waiting to be pulverized, fresh notecards itching to become memorization rectangles, and librarians gazing wistfully at beautiful summer photos instead of shelving books.

Three years running,  we librarians asked you to tell us about the best part of your summer – that’s right, summer reading. A whopping 198 of you responded, recommending 139 different books. There was a lot of turnover this year – two of the top three books from 2015 (Paper Towns and To Kill A Mockingbird) weren’t mentioned at all. In fact, no John Green books were recommended for the first time since we began this survey.



What is it about The Da Vinci Code? Is it the ciphers, the fast-paced thrills, Tom Hanks’ rumpled (no, not rugged) good looks? Whatever the “it” factor, The Da Vinci Code is Hopkins’ most recommended book of Summer 2016! Seven respondents wrote that it was “exciting,”  “incredibly suspenseful,” and that it “keep[s] you at the edge of your seat.”

Almost as popular were The Great Train Robbery and The Apothecary, both of which benefited from being assigned books. Other favorite books (or movies) were Emma Donoghue’s Room and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather – perhaps because of their film counterparts. David Levithan’s Every Day and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood were the other two unassigned books to make appearances on the “most read” list.

This was the first year we asked for your thoughts about your favorite book(s). In doing this, we discovered that even faculty and staff enjoy ALL CAPS. Please see some of our favorite commentary below.

The Godfather

It was AMAZING. I went in thinking it would have a pace similar to other books of its time, with lots of description and thoughtshots. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it moved like an action film, and it kept me going despite the length.

The Girl on the Train

Unreliable narration is key. What made this book so excellent was how you couldn’t trust anyone — even the protagonist with her flawed memories.

House of Leaves

House of Leaves was the weirdest book I have ever read and it invokes mild paranoia.


This was an amazing book about African immigration. As a child of to Nigerians I found many similarities with their struggles. When many people think of Nigeria or Africa in general, they may think of thick jungles, aboriginal tribes, and no electricity. It is seen more as a charity case. This books lets you in on the lives of the people. The struggle to make it to America and become something. The stress of stereotypes and myths continually reminding them that they do not belong. The fear of coming back to their homeland and catching “Americanah.” And international love. How years and miles cannot erase true bonds. Wow. I wrote more than you probably wanted. Sorry about that.

[editorial note: no such thing as saying too much about a book you love]

The Apothecary

I thought that this was a great book and I could not put it down. I also would have never chosen this book if it was not required.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

It was great because it was kind of like a lot of kids dreams written out on paper. (Running away from home with your friends.)

An Officer and a Spy

It’s a great account of the Dreyfus Affair and is riveting from start to finish. My Dad forced me to read it, and when I finally gave in and started reading it, I was hooked.

[editorial note, again: good job, anonymous Dad]

Below you will find a list of every book recommended this year. Thanks to all of our respondents, and happy reading!


A Look Back…

As we started wrapping up yet another school year in Calarco, Mr. Gette decided to decorate the preceding months with colorful charts and graphs – i.e. shiny things. Not to be outdone, I am adding more shiny things, such as picture slideshows and….anything else I can think of. Really, I will be jump-starting the commentary.

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Let’s start with the basics. Or the basic. The fictional story.

top fiction 13-14

The bar across the bottom represents the number of checkouts per book. However, that bar cannot represent the five 7th graders who absolutely SPRINTED to December’s JSchool bookmobile, each vying to get their hands on Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

fiction by class 13-14

Shout out to Faculty & Staff for being the biggest bookworm-y community at Hopkins!  (Note: any time a chart  says “faculty” it also includes staff. Space limitations! <shakes fist>)Props to 11th graders for finding some quality reading time amidst AP, SAT, and ACT prep. Seriously. When was that time – from 4:00 a.m – 5:30 a.m. EST? Although 7th and 8th grade have among the fewest checkouts, it is worth noting that: 1. there are fewer students in each grade, and 2. the student with the MOST Fiction checkouts in the entire school was a 7th grader.

top nonfiction 13-14

Considering the number of people who raced to the library after Wes Moore spoke, seeking copies of The Other Wes Moore, we were pretty surprised that his book came in 2nd place. We do suspect, however, that B&N/Amazon/R.J. Julia’s/etc. saw a spike in sales of The Other Wes Moore. And of course, the demand for Quiet was so loud that we stockpiled 2 copies.

nonfiction by class 13-14

To be fair, these numbers do include non-fiction books checked out for history research papers. For the record, there are 145 (?) students in the 9th grade. Any math whiz (or fool with an iPhone calculator) can tell you that’s 4.15 books/student. Be happy, history teachers.

kindle by class 13-14

Should we applaud the Faculty & Staff for their 38 Kindle check-outs? Would that be librarian-like, considering the Kindle hoarding crimes committed by perpetrators like Benjamin Johnson and Alex Werrell. Maybe public shaming will motivate  returns. Probably not…

A final applause for the Junior School, particularly 8th grade, who would often clean out our stockpile of Kindles during JSchool Bookmobiles. Unfortunately, there is no way to calculate how many Kindle books were read by each student. We suspect a lot, considering the considerable number of PLL, John Green and Rainbow Rowell books we would have to clear off the Kindles every time they were returned.

Some facts and figures since September 1, 2013

Additions to the Calarco Family:

199 new fiction titles were added.

84 new Kindle books were added.

Students checked out:

335 Fiction books

1,634 Nonfiction books

46 Kindles

36 Graphic Novels

448 Laptops

174 pairs of headphones

Faculty & Staff checked out:

199 Fiction books

238 Nonfiction books

38 Kindles

19 Graphic Novels

234 DVDs

So, who’s reading the most fiction?:

7th grade: Isabella Barandiaran with 12 books

8th grade: Helena Lyng-Olsen with 7 books

9th grade: Taina Palacios with 11 books

10th Grade: Lauren Antonelli and Kai Keevil with 7 books

11th Grade: Sarah Srivichitranond with 10 books

12th grade: Yerin Kim with 5 books

Faculty & Staff: Ben Johnson with 17 books

And Finally…

…A big THANK YOU to all Hopkins faculty, staff, and students who contributed to our ever-improving library. We couldn’t do it without you. Ok, we could check books in and out to individuals and falsify our numbers. But that violates the Librarian Code of Ethics. Wait…

[*does some Googling*]

Okay. There is an actual Librarian Code of Ethics.  But we wouldn’t violate sections VI or VII. No. No way. Right.

-Signing off, Ms. Barrows (who is too timid to violate even the Librarian Guidelines of Good Librarianing)


-Signing off, Mr. Gette (who  was in 2nd Place for Faculty & Staff checkouts! ….tied with 4 other people)

Calarco Presents “A Celebration of Poetry”

2013 Poetry Month

photo credit: Manchester Library via flickr

The Calarco Library invites you to A Celebration of Poetry Tuesday, April 20, from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. For an hour, listen to original poetry and translations by Hopkins students and recitations in Modern and Classical languages.

The event was originally designed to honor the Ann Kneisel Library Fund – established in 2002 by William J. Kneisel ’65 HGS in honor of his mother, Ann Henningsen Kneisel, to provide for the acquisition of new works of literature and poetry for the Library. This year, A Celebration of Poetry is the flagship Hopkins event celebrating National Poetry Month.

Please stop by for poetry, a light supper, and (of course) the Library.

Participating Students

Vikram Amar

Lucy Balcezak

Samira Bandura

Lindsay Blake

Molly Bodurtha

Ben Capasso

Chris Cappello

Jenn Corradi

Meera Dhodapkar

Rose Etzel

Saiyara Fahmi

Joshua Felizardo

Philip Geanakoplos

Alec Gewirtz

Chloe Glass

Yohan Kim

Jack McLean

Chrisshara Robinson

Gleeson Ryan

Griffin Shoglow-Rubenstein

Abigail Soloway

Bret Stepanek

Juliette Verlaque

Sarah Wagner

Fines for Food

food and books

photo credit: Silvia Sala via photopin cc

KG: Welcome back from Spring Break! One of the nice things about having two weeks off is that Spring has suddenly arrived on the Hill. Yes, spring. The trees are budding, the birds are singing, the flowers are starting to bloom, and a young librarian’s fancy turns to fines.

Yes, fines. Those unfortunate side effects of overdue books (return your books)

JB: Woah, let’s not jump right into being all judge-y and blame-y. That’s not how we convince people, Mr. Gette. Do over.

KG: <smiles, grabs pitchfork>

JB: <smiles, holds puppy and lamb>

…wait, why are we on a farm?

…annndddd do over.

KG: Welcome back from Spring Break!

JB: We welcome you with pitchforks, puppies, lambs and farm stuff!

KG: …I thought we were starting over.

JB: Right! Ok. We welcome you with the Canned Food Drive!

(if this was an English paper, we would already have a C- for avoiding the point for this long)

KG: I know what you’re thinking. “Canned Food Drive? That was in the fall. Now we’re in spring! Don’t you ever leave the library?”

JB: Yes, proverbial audience, we do. We leave to eat. Eating happens year round. Even when the leaves grow instead of fall.


KG: …right. Anyway, because eating is an every-season activity, Mrs. Prendergast had the grand idea of donating to the Connecticut Food Bank all library fines collected this month.

JB: So instead of groaning at us humble librarians when we mutter phrases like “overdue books” and “library fines,” rejoice! Cheer and skip merrily down the hill with arms linked a-la The Wizard of Oz (NOT the Great and Powerful…they were not as joyous).

KG: Yeah, he doesn’t look like the skipping type.

JB: And when you get to Oz…or the library, happily donate your fines to the Connecticut Food Bank. And forget the metaphor. We are basically wizards.

KG: Yer a wizard, Barrows.

JB: Don’t joke about that, Mr. Gette. I’ve been waiting for that letter since 1998.

KG: My apologies. But now I know what I should have done for April Fools’ Day.

JB: The devastation of discovering the falseness in such a potential joke would have warranted a convalescence…somewhere.

KG: So please, return your books and pay your fines (if you owe any). Calarco Library is proud to be putting them towards such a good cause (even though it will eat into our hovercraft fund).

JB: We support eating, and believe that everyone has a right to it…seriously, it’s a human right. Also, we can scrape by for the hovercraft fund and Hogwarts tuition.

KG: (You know they’re not going to pay in Galleons, right?)

Happy reading and happy eating, everyone!*

*comma to prevent cannibalism

How the Mighty Have Fallen

When I was a student here, the library had one floor, orange chairs, and a card catalog.

Newfangled Contraption

No, a real one. With actual cards. It looked sort of like this:

However, those days are past. We now store information in and locate books via an online database, called an OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog). And those old cards, well…

Catalog cards in the recycle bin.

That’s right. We’re getting rid of the old catalog cards. But before they go, I took a last look through them, and found some cool stuff.

From the classics:

books books books

To the Hopkins classics:

Because there is no more creative name than "Hopkins Literary Magazine."

From the “I’m so glad there’s now a backspace:”


To the “Why is this in our library?”

No, really, why?

No, really, why?

And if anyone can tell me what this is, I’d appreciate it. Because IT IS WEIRD:

Somewhere, someone has formed an apocalyptic conspiracy theory about these symbols.

Somewhere, someone has formed an apocalyptic conspiracy theory about these symbols.

The last thing I found was a stack of Senior Project catalog cards from 1998 and  1999. So hello, old friends.


And goodbye, catalog cards. You had a good run.

-signing off, Kit Gette (who learned to stop worrying and love the OPAC)

Vagabond Librarians: Snowed In Edition

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*not affiliated with Google in any way*

KG: Greetings from East Rock!

JB: Greetings from North Haven/Wallingford/Almost Meriden!

As I vagabond from town to town based on the availability of nourishment, unread books, Netflix and Hulu+ accounts, and other supplies, I cannot help but compare my life to The Passage. Except there are no virals. And the human race isn’t on the verge of collapse. And I don’t have to fear being turned into a viral. And stuff. BUT, those main characters often had to scrape by with very little.

Ok. My life is nothing like The Passage right now. But sometimes dreams come true! (I just thought about being attacked by a viral and changed my mind) KG: Yeah, that seems more like a nightmare to me.

KG: Meanwhile, I’m just vagabonding to the corner store and back. They’re surprisingly well stocked. Except for milk.  No-one has milk. But it’s awfully fun to walk down the middle of Orange St (others are skiing/snowshoeing). I still obey all traffic signals. Safety first.

I’m pretty sure they don’t have milk in The Passage. Maybe from sheep? I’m in the middle of reading it right now, on the advice of Ms. Barrows. You may have noticed that she’s….enthusiastic about the book.

JB: If you cannot tell, we have lost some of our cohesive writing skills during #nemo2013.

KG: But what we lack in ability we make up for with enthusiasm! Or cabin fever.

JB: But not cabin fever. Librarians never reach that state of panic. We have ALL the books to read!

KG: I finished The Bedlam Detective, a mystery set in Victorian England. The main character is an investigator for the Master of Lunacy, who decides if crazy rich guys are crazy enough to be institutionalized at Bedlam Hospital (and have their fortunes taken over by the state). It’s filled with murder and monsters and doomed trips to the Amazon. And I just had to think about it for a bit, because I got it a little mixed up with Dodger, another Victorianish book that I read in the past week, but one that is very different in tone. I preferred Dodger, but then, I’m a big Terry Pratchett fan.

JB: …my parents are making me eat dinner now. My mom literally just said “no computers at the dinner table.” (If you think these things end with adulthood, you are wrong. Just wait until you have to crash at your parents’ house during a snowstorm)

JB: And I’m back. Dinner with my parents didn’t remind me of this, but I randomly remembered that I finished The Twelve (the sequel to The Passage) Friday night.

KG: Hello again.

JB: Hello Mr. Gette. So The Twelve. It is quite difficult to discuss this book without giving away information about the plot (yes, spoilers, Mr. Gette). I will just say that Justin Cronin masterfully composed a 2nd installment of a trilogy. Not quite The Godfather II (it doesn’t necessarily exceed the 1st installment), but definitely a solid, entertaining, nail-biting book. I am still hooked on the trilogy, and I eagerly await book 3. Now I am reading The Warmth of Other Suns, a narrative non-fiction about the Great Migration. Excellent so far, and I promise a book review in the future.

KG: No spoilers, please. I really need to finish The Passage. A job for tomorrow? By the way, every book mentioned in this post is available in the Calarco Library. As soon as we return them.

JB: Time to close this out?
KG: I think so.

JB: Stay warm, stay safe, stay awesome, Hopkins. We will see you again…someday.

-Signing off Jenny Barrows (who is going to go walk her dog…I mean slide down the street with her dog)  and Kit Gette (who makes abominable snowmen)

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When Books Are Sad: Videos by Hopkins Students

(Information about this project was provided by the very awesome Angeles de Castro)

This activity started as an in-class reading and comprehension activity. The students enjoyed the reading so much that they asked if they could create videos about the story. In pairs or small groups, they came up with very interesting projects. The videos are based on a short-story titled La Desesperación de las Letras by Ginés Cutillas in which the author presents the books as humans who decided to commit suicide because their owners prefer watching televisión over reading.

Please watch the two student videos below. If some technical difficulties are rectified, there will be a third video soon!

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who is confident that La Desesperación de las Letras is saved from a dire fate)

Town Forum – Whiteboard Question #1

On Friday, Ms. Barrows and I found an unattended whiteboard in the library. So we decided to put it to use.

Hup two three four

The whiteboard levitates up the stairs.

Less magic, more muscle

Oh wait, it’s just Ms. Barrows.

Since we’re librarians, we have to ask about books. It’s in our contracts. We decided that a nice, easy, non-contentious question to start with would be “Suggest a good book!” And with help from a friendly freshman whose adviser must be wise and talented (Thanks, Nik!), we got set up.

Pretty soon, the whiteboard looked like this:

That was fast!

That was fast!

Seuss. S-E-U-S-S. Seuss.

And then it looked like this:

I've never heard of some of these.

Getting kind of crowded….

And then this:

My eyes! My eyes!

My eyes! My eyes!

Don’t think we didn’t notice that little change, folks. Please respect other people’s recommendations.

Also, The Popcorn Rat? I’m not sure I believe that’s a real book. And Google backs me up on that one.

And finally, at the end of the day:



To keep reading (no, really, keep reading) click here!

Fun With Numbers

Hello and welcome to 2013! I’m sure you’re sick of end-of-year wrap-ups and Top Ten Lists, which is why we’re bringing you these top 20 lists of the books most often checked out from Calarco Library in 2012.

First up is the Fiction:

You win this round, Collins!

Size of text corresponds to the number of checkouts. The bigger the title, the more popular it is.

Top 20 Fiction Circulated in 2012

Suzanne Collins blew away the competition, taking the top three spots on the list. Clearly, the odds were in her favor. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve only read 4.5 of the books on this list.

Now, how about the non-fiction? What topics (for term papers) were popular in 2012?

Where are all the pirates?
Top 20 Non-fiction of 2012

This one I find a little surprising. Based on what I’ve seen so far this year, I expected more books on witchcraft and the Barbary Pirates to make the list.

Also, it’s true that Les Miserables  isn’t actually non-fiction. But it’s shelved in the Stacks, so the reports I ran put it in this group. Think of it as a spy. Or a revolutionary.

And then, just for fun, I decided to run a top 20 list of the books with the most checkouts OF ALL TIME (where “all time” is defined as “since we started keeping electronic records”). What is the most sought after book in our library? Let’s take a look:

STILL No Pirates?!

Top Books of ALL TIME

Now, our top scorer is cheating a little because it has 10 volumes, so each one checked out counts towards its total. So I’m going to give the prize to the runner up, at 32 checkouts – Witchcraft at Salem, by Chadwick Hansen! Congratulations, you win a new book cover and all the bookmarks you can eat.   And really, is anyone surprised?

A few notes on this list: First of all, props to Shakespeare for breaking up the witch party at the top (oh how I wish it had been Macbeth). Second, the first appearance of our popular fiction titles is The Da Vinci Code, tied with Lolita at 25 checkouts. Third, I’m very pleased to see Maus make the list. Fourth, In the Hand of the Goddess proves Tamora Pierce’s enduring popularity. And finally, I count three books from the 9th grade English curriculum.

I’m addicted to this now. I can’t stop!


Top Checkouts by Type

This time I got it right: “Fiction” includes both books from the popular fiction section upstairs as well as the literature section downstairs. And non-fiction includes Maus. Feel free to debate me on that one in the comments.

And, of course:

Double, double, toil and trouble

Top 20 Books by Subject

Note: all graphics in this post were made with, a free web-based resource. Although it’s a little finicky (I did not love how it would sometimes not display my chart for – as far as I could tell – no good reason), it was pretty fun to work with, and I like how the charts look.Give it a try!

Signing off, Kit Gette (who is betting the Barbary Pirates will make the list NEXT time)