Throughout my time here at Hopkins, I have browsed the stacks many times for projects and research papers. Because there is an incredible amount of books here, I always start by looking up a phrase or term relevant to what I am searching for and find the section of the library where books relevant to the desired subject are housed. That’s exactly what I did this week when I had the task of finding a secondary source for our final project. I went to the JHU online library catalog, typed in “Edgar Allan Poe,” searched by author, and was greeted with a list of books that might be relevant for my project. Surprisingly, the first book from these search results caught my eye. The book, titled “Edgar Allan Poe; a centenary tribute” was interesting to me because not only did it seem relevant to one of my potential topics for this project—the perception of Poe throughout different points in history—but it also was published in 1910 and could be found in special collections, a place that has become all too familiar to me this semester.
With that, I had the call number texted to my phone (a cool service the library provides) and was off to special collections. I wasn’t sure what the process was for taking a book out of here (I had never needed to do this for my other projects and had only ever seen books from here in class), so I inquired at the front desk about my book. I didn’t really have any information other than the title, so I wasn’t surprised when I realized it could be quite cumbersome to find this specific book. I left to go down to the stacks on D level, where this book might also be found according to the online catalog.
I found the section of the stacks where this book should have been, but it was also missing from here. This wasn’t discouraging though because after a brief look at the other books on the shelves, I realized that there were many, perhaps even more interesting, books I could use for my project. I picked out a bunch because I couldn’t decide which one I wanted and took them to my table on C level to examine them more closely (as I usually do when looking for books in the library). I even ran into our professor, Gabrielle, while down there who witnessed my armful of books.
After examining the books I had selected, one that particularly caught my eye was an 1899 biography of Poe, titled “The Story of Edgar Allan Poe for Young Readers.” This is great for my project because it is a biography from over one hundred years ago, which will lend historical insight into how the public perceived Poe at this time, and it also is tailored to children, which gives another interesting perspective. The only drawback is that since this book is so old and fragile, it is non-circulating, meaning I can’t take it out of the library. After talking to the librarian at the front desk, he put it on hold for me so that I can come back to pick it up and most likely take it to special collections to be saved for future reference.