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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University July 23, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 40
Barnes & Noble: the 'village meeting place'

The café at Barnes & Noble Johns Hopkins

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

General manager Rebecca LaFleur says that it didn't take long for the new Barnes & Noble Johns Hopkins bookstore to catch on. The store, located on the ground floor of the university's Charles Commons residence hall in Charles Village, opened on Oct. 20, 2006, and quickly became the "village meeting place" it was intended to be, LaFleur says.

"The store opened with an established base of students and local community members," she said. "We've been very happy with the foot traffic. Several neighborhood groups told me they are very happy to have a bookstore here in Charles Village, and we're starting to see a lot of familiar faces at our events. I guess you can call them our regulars."

The 29,000-square-foot bookstore features general retail services — books, magazines and Johns Hopkins paraphernalia — on the main floor and textbooks for Homewood courses on the second floor. It stocks close to 56,000 book and magazine titles and has a complete children's department.

A popular attraction has been the café, which draws a steady crowd, day and night, of folks who want to eat, drink, read, study or have the occasional business meeting.

"I also see tutoring sessions going on here," LaFleur said. "The other day I saw a gentleman teaching someone chess. It's just your local coffee shop, and people love to come here and hang out."

On the retail front, LaFleur says that both the general book section and children's books have seen a strong rise in sales the past few months. "And anything that says Johns Hopkins on it sells," she said. "Of course, our lacrosse items do very well."

The store features local musical acts on most Monday evenings and, like other Barnes & Noble locations, is a site for book signings and readings. Several authors have already visited the store. In April, nearly 380 people came to hear Frank Warren discuss his new book, The Secret Lives of Men and Women: A Post Secret Book. Warren is a small-business owner based in Maryland who, in November 2004, started the popular blog site as a community art project.

Among the special events set for summer was this past weekend's Midnight Party for Harry Potter, which celebrated the release of the last of the Harry Potter series and featured arts and crafts, refreshments, giveaways, trivia and much more. "We'll have the whole shebang," LaFleur said before the event. "This is, after all, one of the most anticipated book releases in history." Other special events will be announced on the store's Web site,, as they're planned.

The campus bookstore has certainly come a long way from its days in the basement of the university's Gilman Hall.

"We are a destination now. We were extremely busy during Homecoming weekend, and every night there are a lot of people coming through our doors," LaFleur said. It helps being visible.

The Barnes & Noble Johns Hopkins' Village Voices committee is looking for members interested in enhancing the bookstore's community connection. For meeting times and other information, contact Rebecca LaFleur at or 410-662-5850.


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