Category Archives: Library Collections

Free Books Explained


No really, they are free

The Scenario

Several weeks ago, a cart of free books appeared on the lower level of the Calarco library. Frequenters of the space would peruse the selection, grab some choice items, and continue on with their days. As time passed, the word spread and the newbies began to appear – sometimes solo, often in pairs. They would whisper furtively to each other (or to themselves, which was weird), sneaking hurried glances at the nearest librarian as they discreetly slipped books into backpacks and tote bags. Just as the Hopkins community breathed a sigh of relief – only the worst of the worst books were left  – we clever librarians cycled out the rejects and stocked the cart with a fresh batch of alluring volumes.

The anticipation grew, and we observed as students, faculty and staff once again put themselves through the stress and anxiety of trying to “steal” library books.

And we laughed. We chuckled. We snickered to each other. We pointed and guffawed, “Look at them! They think they are doing something wrong – how endearing!”

The Explanation

Where there is a school, there are books. Lots and lots of books. While our love for books is boundless, the shelves are not. The enclosed space of the Calarco Library has limits, and so do the enclosed walls of a Library Department meeting. Last year, we would sigh as we sifted through books 12 copies of The Complete Collection of Mark Twain or The Future of Soviet-U.S. Relations ©1972. We would walk through the library and find each other buried under books that had fallen off the overburdened shelves. As I extracted Mrs. Dubois from a pile of Microsoft Word for Dummies ©1994 and Recent Advances in Genetics ©1998, she furiously declared that she could not even find a copy of Hogwarts: A History, by Bathilda Bagshot.

In that moment, two things became clear:

  1. Mrs. Dubois needed to see a doctor, and
  2. The library desperately needed to undergo spring cleaning

It was decreed during a Library Department meeting that the weeding of books, CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes (yea…), etc. would henceforth commence ASAP, ending only when the dust settled and victor had been declared.

There can only be one victor. And it will be us – the librarians.

Treat yourself to the spoils of a hard-fought war and visit the library to explore the latest free books. We will be offering even more to the Hopkins community before the school year is over, so keep an eye out for more “FREE BOOKS!” announcements.

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Good luck you, young soldiers. We wish you courage and bravery as you build your own home libraries, and we offer only one piece of advice to those who must commence their own book purge.

Be bold. Be merciless. And take no prisoners.

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who amid dust, debris, and loose pages, waves fists in victory as she runs through the liberated shelves)

Weeding Discoveries: The Latest Series

As I plod through Great Expectations and look wistfully at the other books on my desk/bedside table/floor/coffee table/kitchen table/entryway/bookshelves (obviously), I think to myself, “Why not start yet another erratic and nonsensical blog series?!”

…And so Weeding Discoveries is born.

weeding, n. : a. the action or process of freeing (land, crops, etc.) from weeds ; b. the eradication (of weeds) ; c. that which is weeded out (courtesy of OED)

In order to allow tangible knowledge and information (i.e. books) to flourish and grow, librarians must free allocated plots (i.e. shelves) of that which occupies valued space. Books that occupy valued space include multiple copies of editions/translations, books falling apart (literally) at the seams, manuals on Windows 95, etc. While this may all sound very sad and un-librarian, we assure you that is the most librarian thing to do. Removing a book titled something like, “Contemporary Thought on U.S. Foreign Policy and Soviet Russia” published in 1972 really only does everyone a favor. We are bibliophiles people, not hoarders.

During this process, we sometimes stumble upon some of the most exciting discoveries. So far, they have included the infamous piece of pie, lists/documents printed on that 1980’s printer paper (which I just discovered is called continuous stationary), lots of dust, and these two gems below.

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Read the article Line on Liners to learn more about the Seamen’s Welfare Committee and Mr. Haight. And since you cannot read the inverted Russian proverbs, I will leave you with some of those.

Don’t look now, but someone is stealing your potatoes.

The kopek thief is hanged, while the thousand-ruble thief is honored.

The uninvited guest is worse than a Tartar.

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who was once told on a Russian train that she was en route to Leningrad…in 2010)

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)

Kindles at the Calarco Library

A classy example of Kindle reading

Lounging with a Kindle - this could be you!

This year the Calarco Library introduced 18 Kindles to the collection. We are excited and proud of this addition to the library and to the Hopkins community. Light-weight and easy to use, each device can hold up to 3,500 Kindle books. We have created a hybrid program, preloading Kindles with a myriad of best-selling titles while frequently adding requests from students, faculty and staff throughout the year.

Please visit our Kindle LibGuide to learn more and to view the full list of the books currently available on the Calarco Library Kindles.

Informational Videos:

Photo Credits

href=””>Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.comvia photopin cc

href=””>Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.comvia photopin cc

Hidden Collections at the Calarco Library

A unique collection that combines old and new

There are many kinds of collections – coins, stamps, bottle caps, music, etc. – and most are unknown beyond a small group of people. Libraries are pretty well known for their collections of books, I think it is fair to say. What is less often known are the collections contained WITHIN the collections of books.

 photo credit: db Photography | Demi-Brooke via photopin cc

Confusing? Definitely. The Calarco Library collection does not just consist of fiction and non-fiction books; we have other collections of materials (print and non-print) that warrant your attention. These are highlighted below to make YOU (yes, you) more aware of these resources. Some of these resources might help you complete a research project, a Senior project, or simply be something you can escape to during a Free Friday. Read on, and enjoy!

CD Collection: Classical music, readings of Shakespearean plays, radio broadcasts, slave songs – our CD Collection can be used for class projects, reading, research papers, or simply for “listening pleasure”. Although it may be hard to believe, not EVERYTHING is on iTunes and/or Spotify just yet. Included with the collection are comfy chairs and CD players. This collection is located on the lower level.

Film Collection: Why, isn’t this dubbed the “DVD Collection?” The Calarco Library still carries VHS tapes of films that are either not available on DVD, or difficult to track down. These are the films your teachers often use in class, but students also use the documentaries as resources for projects and papers. This collection is located on the lower level.

Alumni Collection: Hopkins has many outstanding alumni, some of whom have published books. You will find these books in the glass case near the Baldwin entrance.

Magazines/Newspapers: We subscribe to more than 40 popular magazines, and we also subscribe to The New York Times, The Connecticut Post, and The New Haven Register. While there are obvious favorites (Issues of Seventeen are always misplaced), the collection is well-rounded and appeals to a variety of interests. There are also professional journals specifically for Faculty, which are located in the Faculty Reading Room (lower level). For a full listing of our subscriptions, please visit the Magazines & Newspapers LibGuide. Magazines and newspapers are located on the lower level, directly across from the stairwell.

Modern Language Easy Readers: Bonjour! Hola! Ciao! 您好! We invite you to spend some time practicing your language skills with the Modern Language Easy Readers. Our collection contains anything from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Mandarin to Barbar in French. These books are located on the lower level with the magazines.

College Collection: As the college process looms in the distant (or not so distant) future, visit the College Collection and harness the “panic” with well-informed research. The Calarco Library provides a diverse collection of guides, including ones to assist you with college selection and exploring college majors. We also have guides that provide information about the college admissions process, as well as AP and SAT study guides. The College Collection is located on the lower level of the library adjacent to the textbooks.

Outdated? Not when the information on microfilm isn't availabe for free online

 photo credit: OSU Archives via photopin cc

Microfilm and Indexes: Have you ever wondered about those fat green books and the filing cabinet in the area across from the library classroom? Wonder no longer; this area contains our Microfilm Collection and Indexes. What is microfilm, you might ask? It is film on which a printed book or magazine is photographed and shrunk down for easy storage. Why would you use microfilm when there’s the Internet? Easy, because not everything is publicly or FREELY available online. The microfilm readers make it easy to print or e-mail articles of interest, allowing users to easily obtain primary sources. Here is a list of the publications the Calarco Library has on microfilm:

  • Atlantic Monthly (January 1960-December 1987)
  • Birth of America – Colonial Newspapers (1763-1783)
  • British Heritage (December 1979-November 1989)
  • Current History (September 1941-December 1984)
  • Current History & Forum (December 1914-March1921)
  • Documentary Sources of Western Civilization
  • The Federalist Years – Colonial Newspapers (1789-1820)
  • Forging More Perfect Union – Colonial Newspapers (1784-1788)
  • Harpers (January 1958-December 1984)
  • History Today (January 1951-December 1977 ; January 1978-December 1992)
  • The Nation (July 1913-December 1987)
  • New Republic (November 1914-December 1984)
  • Newsweek (February 1933-December 1987)
  • Time (March 1923-December 1999)
  • US News & World Report (May 1933-January 1984)

In addition to the microfilm collection, in this same area on the lower level of the library is the bound Life magazine collection (January 1960-December 1972) and The New Yorker complete collection (through 2005) on CD-ROM.

Hidden no longer, come visit the Calarco Library and explore our collections.