Books to make you blush at Johns Hopkins rare books exhibit

The Sheridan Libraries Department of Special Collections hosted its annual Valentine's Day library treat—"Dirty Books and Longing Looks," an open house of saucy and sweet books sure to make anyone swoon.

With Cupid as their guide, students studied the rare books and crafted their own vintage-inspired declarations of love.

New highlights of the exhibit included a 1930s scrapbook complete with lipstick kisses between a hard-boiled dame and her salty sailor beau, and one of the first guides to writing a Valentine dating from the 1810s.

"[Special Collections has] hosted 'Dirty Books and Longing Looks' since 2010, and it is one of our favorite library traditions," said librarian and curator Heidi Herr, who organized the event. "It's a fun way to introduce students to material they do not expect to find in the library. After all, they are viewing rare resources dating from the 17th century through today, ranging from hilariously awful erotica to scrapbooks documenting love gone awry. Sassy, sweet, and well, sometimes truly tawdry, the open house serves to pop monocles, generate sighs, and get students interested in exploring primary resources for their own research."