I never liked libraries. In my mind, libraries were the run-down local diners of study spaces; a nice place to be if you’re stuck in the past, nostalgic for a more simplistic time, or craving the classics. I, in contrast, was a student of the times, seeking the quirkiest local cafes to satisfy my contemporary study needs. So when I came to Hopkins, I had absolutely no intentions of ever stepping foot into a library.
I was first introduced to Brody Learning Commons on a tour during SOHOP, the overnight program for accepted students in April. As my enthusiastic tour guide advertised Brody as a “collaborative learning environment”, I found my inner voice facetiously chirping, right, so a fancy term for a library. “Built on top of MSE library in 2012,” my tour guide seemingly replied to my thoughts, “Brody was made as a collaborative study space, featuring a cafe, study rooms with whiteboard walls, and furniture with wheels to allow students to make the space their own.” I swallowed my pride. Brody was not a library. In reality, Brody was built directly in contrast to the library beneath it–an alternative study space for modern minds. And little did I know, Brody would become one of my favorite places at Hopkins.
When you approach Brody from the Krieger entrance, the first thing you see is the terrace. When it’s nice out, this is a gorgeous place to study, eat, or just talk, with various types of seating. Also, there are often student groups set up here, either selling baked goods or giving away free t-shirts. Personally, I am a fan of the terrace because you can almost always see a dog there, which is a pretty big deal when you’re away from home.
When you walk into Brody from the terrace, you walk straight into Brody Cafe. Brody Cafe features The Daily Grind, which is the coffee shop also found in Mudd Hall. Famous for their “Dirty Chai” and killer breakfast sandwiches, The Daily Grind is always busy. As a true caffeine addict and thus a highly qualified coffee critic, I can say that this is easily some of the best coffee out there. I am a big fan of their vanilla lattes paired with their delicious granola bars made by a local Baltimore business.
The cafe tables are a great place to meet up with people. There are often interviews, group projects, and meetings with professors taking place in this nice casual setting that always smells pleasantly of sweet coffee and baked goods.
Once you walk past the cafe and through the turnstiles, you are on Q-Level. Straight back from the entrance is the Reading Room, which is my absolute favorite place to study on campus. This room, known for its gorgeous wood furniture and tall ceilings, is one of the silent study spaces on campus. I find that I can be super productive while studying for exams in here, and the space is much more open than a cubicle.
M-Level is mostly known for the Rare Books Collection Room, another beautiful room with wooden furniture, which includes medieval and Renaissance manuscript books, the Machen collection of incunabula (books printed before 1501), the works of Byron, Anthony Trollope, Oscar Wilde, among many other unique and intriguing finds. Literature classes often get the chance to explore here or even have class here, which is basically the equivalent of having class in a museum.
Two levels down from the main entrance, B-Level is a floor known for its iconic blue chairs (they’re just as comfy as they look) and tons of natural light. There are a few tables with huge whiteboards and there are also lots of whiteboard-wall group study rooms. I love this level for writing papers or stories for my Fiction and Poetry course; I find that the natural light is really conducive for writing. B-Level is also home to the print room, which I am a fan of for the housing coolest stapler of all time, which automatically staples your papers perfectly. Additionally, B-Level has the IT help room, which is a great resource for us technology-challenged millennials.
Brody is not a library. Brody is a space for making studying social, making group projects doable, and allowing everyone to find their best environment for studying, whether that be a huge blue chair or a room with high ceilings and long tables. Brody is a place that really emphasizes the collaborative nature of Hopkins. And in my mind, Brody is no longer an old classic diner. Rather, Brody is an interactive, open, modern study space: the Hibachi of libraries, if you will.