Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
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Lloyd Sealy Library

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Virtually browsing the library shelves

Maria Kiriakova

Several books to the left and right of Blue On Blue

Most people like browsing shelves in a bookstore. You walk through a certain section (Mystery or Cooking) and then just let your eyes wander from title to title, lost in time. In an academic library, there are no labels for such sections, but you can still browse books in a certain area of knowledge using the call number system. Books that have call numbers starting with B, for example, will deal with philosophy and psychology; HV represents criminal justice; and Z stands for library science. You can browse the whole Library of Congress Classification Outline (the one the majority of the American academic libraries use).

Reference librarians often suggest to students who are looking for books on a particular topic to find one book in the catalog that fits their topic, then find it on the shelves and browse the area for more titles that might address the same issue. Now the library discovery tool OneSearch allows users to virtually browse library bookshelves to see books arranged by call number and represented visually by book covers—similar to browsing in one’s favorite bookstore.

For example, say you found a great title on police corruption in OneSearch, Blue on Blue: An Insider’s Story of Good Cop Catching Bad Cop. The book's record page shows detailed information about the author, publisher, table of contents, subject headings, call number. By scrolling to the bottom of this screen (as in the screenshot above), you will see the images of various book covers to the left and right of Blue on Blue, all with call numbers beginning with HV 7911.

November 2017

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