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May 21, 2024

Our best tips for navigating Brody and MSE

By ARIELLA SHUA | August 30, 2018

A12 Windows
COURTESY OF ROLLIN HU Constructed in 2012, Brody is a popular study spot with group study rooms and a yummy cafe.

You’ve no doubt noticed the interconnected buildings behind the Beach, one older and shorter, the other newer and sleek. They’re empty now but they won’t be for long. These are MSE and Brody. If you’re a typical Hopkins student, they’ll become your second home.

The Milton S. Eisenhower Library (MSE) has been the flagship of the Sheridan Libraries since 1964 with over four millions volumes on the shelves. The Brody Learning Commons, which opened in 2012, is a sociable study center. Side by side, it’s easy to spend an entire day going between both buildings.

Brody and MSE are central to any student’s weekly, if not daily, routine. This guide will give you a jump start on mastering the Brody and MSE lifestyles. 


Before exploring the libraries themselves, it’s worth mentioning who make Brody and MSE run so smoothly: the librarians! Dozens of librarians, each with different roles and specialties, are available as resources to students. 

Jennifer Ditkoff, Student Engagement and Information Fluency Librarian, explained some of the resources available to studens in an email to The News-Letter.

“I teach library workshops, run programs for students, partner with offices all over campus and staff the research consultation office,” she wrote.

And yes, they want to offer help — you can even text them if you need it!

The librarians offer ways to be involved with the library, such as through the paid Freshman Fellows program, the Student Advisory Council or working in Special Collections. Ask them about what’s going on, and you might find something that works for you. 

Librarians can also help you find books for your classes and research projects. Need a book that isn’t available? If the library doesn’t have the item or if the item is currently checked out, you can request if from the Borrow Direct service. And if you need an article from a source that isn’t stocked, the Interlibrary Loan staff can get it to you for free.

Brody Café

Want a hot cup of coffee, a chocolate muffin and an airy study area? Head to Brody Café. The Daily Grind sells much-needed treats and drinks here. The café is the perfect place for a quick catch-up with friends while you grab a latte. Plus, you’re bound to see familiar faces making their way through, as Brody Café leads into Brody proper.

During finals week, the café has free coffee after midnight. It’s a gift unlike any other while cramming for that early morning test.

The Reading Room

Sometimes you need to study in silence while surrounded by hundred-year-old artifacts and plenty of natural sunlight to boot. Sounds impossible, but the Reading Room checks all these boxes. Walk through the wooden doors on Brody’s top floor. You’ll enter another world, one in which silence reigns with a side of sophistication. The tables are often full, but there are cozy armchairs by the windows too.

This is one of librarian Heidi Herr’s favorite spots in the library and for good reason. She mentioned the “plethora of curiosities” displayed in the room, such as a Mark Dion art installation and a Victorian-era fan made from a parrot. If you want an atypical study zone, the Reading Room is perfect.

Study Rooms

You’ve probably seen the floating blue room near the top of Brody. You, too, can one day study there, where the walls are white boards and friends can be seen waving from across the library. There are 18 Brody and 20 MSE study rooms, and all can be reserved on the library website.

You can book rooms a day in advance, and you absolutely should. Otherwise you’ll probably be kicked out by someone with a reservation. We’ve all kicked people out and been kicked out ourselves. It’s practically a Hopkins rite of passage.

The Atrium

As the lowest level of Brody, this open-air study zone is full of comfy chair-desk hybrids, white boards and students pretending to work while actually catching up with friends. Come during the day and you’ll see people hanging out between classes. Come late at night and you’ll see frenzied last minute studying, often accompanied by tons of snacks.

Bring the longest charger you’ve got. There are outlets on the Atrium floor, but unless you want to bend over your phone for an hour, it’s easier to just use a cord that’s a few feet long.

M/A Level

Off Brody’s stairways are the first floors of the library. The stereotype of MSE being for silent work isn’t true of M and A Levels. Both encourage group studying, with tables in addition to desks. If you want to get work done while catching up on the latest drama, head to M or A.

MSE floors generally decrease in volume as you go down. But that’s not always the case with M and A Level. M is usually quieter, while A Level is as much of a party as problem sets and projects can be.

B/C Level

Head off the Atrium or keep going down Brody’s stairs and you’ll hit the serious part of MSE. B and C Level are silent zones, but B is more relaxed than C. Noises from the Atrium and whispered conversation keep the atmosphere more casual. C Level, on the other hand, maintains a constant quiet throughout.

Both B and C have small rooms along the walls with the doors shut. These rooms can be booked but are often empty, making them ideal for impromptu group study sessions.

D Level

Dead silent. D Level is truly the place where fun goes to die. If you’re the kind of person who likes to study in a place where even breathing is muted, this is the ultimate study space.

If you must come down here, don’t you dare wear flip flops, have a cold or keep your ringtone at anything louder than silent. You could be killed — or worse, get a disapproving glare from an engineer who hasn’t emerged from the dungeon in way too long.

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