Library News Blog
Items from the Special Collections
Research in action: student spotlight (from the Spring 2014 Newsletter)
Jakub Gaweda is 2014 graduating senior majoring in Global History.
Last November, I was approached by Prof. Gerald Markowitz to work on a research project for John Jay’s upcoming 50th anniversary. Prof. Markowitz, along with a few others, was asked to head a committee to create a timeline exhibit for the College. I gladly accepted the offer to join them, recognizing that the experience would greatly increase my own research skills.
As I began to attend the exhibit meetings, I quickly learned the scope of my work. I would look through books of newspaper clippings located in the Special Collections room, compiling a list of events at the college: plays, sports, funding received, grants, guest speakers, etc. Thankfully, two more student researchers were brought on to help me with what seemed at times a Sisyphean task.
Over the months of January, February, and March, I became intimately acquainted with the Special Collections room, the Library Conference room, John Jay’s newspaper clippings, and its archival photographs in ways I could have never imagined. When I closed my eyes, everything was sepia. At certain times of the day, I smelled aging newspaper, and if I listened carefully, I could hear the crinkle of paper and the flipping of binder pages. I cursed when the Library was only open till 10pm on weekdays.
Levity aside, I found the research fascinating. While I enjoyed learning about the big events of John Jay, including CUNY’s financial crisis in 1976 and the student takeovers in 1989 in response to rising tuition costs, what I found most compelling were the small stories. Over the course of my research, certain names would begin to reappear every now and again: a notable basketball player, a professor, or a student who won a scholarship. Often surfacing only in small blurbs with a few sentences, these stories often did much to humanize the history of the College. Seeing these small narratives unfold literally before my eyes made me cognizant of my own place at John Jay and how short my time at the school is, as just one of thousands of other current and former students. I felt the same way when looking at the photographs of John Jay’s history. Photos of student and campus life were just as interesting as Mother Teresa or Bill Cosby at the college.
I also can’t forget to thank the fantastic Library staff for all the help they have provided me. From Prof. Ellen Sexton to Robin Davis, who both directly helped me manage the materials, to every single other librarian I may have at one point or another asked (hopefully kindly) to open some door for me. It made my work that much easier and more enjoyable.
It’s a good thing that I did this research when John Jay was only 50, as I am not sure I envy the researcher who, in another 50 years, will have to face an even more daunting task. Maybe—with any luck—he will find some mention of me in the records.
Editor’s note: in addition to their incredible work on the 50th Anniversary Exhibit, Jakub and his classmates, Kayla Talbot and Brittany Cabanas, have made invaluable contributions to the John Jay College Archives in the Digital Collections by scanning archival items, researching photograph subjects, and creating metadata. See their work online at dc.lib.jjay.cuny.edu! —Robin D
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 10:47am
Strategies for steering away from predatory journals
In the past few years, a for-profit, scam-like publishing industry has emerged, exploiting the Open Access model in order to trick scholars into contributing their work. More than ever before, it is crucial that researchers establish and confirm the credentials of a journal and its publisher before they submit a paper for publication. The following suggestions on what to watch out for and how not to fall prey to these dishonest presses is culled from Prof. Monica Berger’s (NYC College of Technology) presentation “To Catch a Predator: How to Recognize Predatory Journals and Conferences” that took place at the Graduate Center on 11/26/13. Knowing what to look for should make it easier for you steer clear from submitting your work to journals that lack credibility.
How to recognize predatory journals
Solicitation and the publishing process typical of predatory journals
- mass mailings of unsolicited invitations to contribute to a journal (these spam-like invitations shouldn’t be confused with the emails received from the scholarly organizations you are a member of or with emails from the journal or publisher where your past work appeared)
- a strikingly quick turnaround from submission to publication
- peer review process not explained and conducted in no time
- no revisions required
Typical journal and publisher presentation
- the title resembles the title of a well-known publication
- the title suggests an overly broad or extremely vague scope (e.g., Galaxy: International Multidisciplinary Research Journal, British Journal of Science)
- although the title specifies location (European Journal...) the journal is located in another part of the world
- the publisher’s website include typos and grammatical errors; contradictory details about editorial policies, fees, etc.; dead links and no information about the publisher’s physical address; a look and interface that mimics the design of a well-known publisher
- the publisher is also the editor
- the email address is a popular one (Gmail or Yahoo) or not listed at all ( web form only)
- no information about editorial or advisory boards
- a large number of published titles (especially for new presses)
To learn more about predatory publishers, you should consult the blog maintained by Jeffrey Beall, the Scholarly Initiatives Librarian at the University of Colorado Denver at scholarlyoa.com. Beall maintains and regularly updates a list of predatory open access journals to stay away from. He has also put together a list of criteria for determining whether a journal is predatory (his list is more exhaustive than the abbreviated one above).
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 10:29am
Screenshots from TRACfed
Many of the library databases provide access to scholarly journals, but the library also has many special purpose databases. TRACfed is one of them. TRACfed uses U.S. Federal Government data collected by TRAC (the “Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse”)—mostly pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (foia) —to track how the government enforces the law, assigns its employees and spends money.
TRACfed uses this data to create reports (the TRACreports) and makes the data available to subscribers so they can create custom reports. Federal offices that are mined for data include:
- Federal Courts and Judges
- Drug Enforcement (DEA)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
Two recent reports—Federal Drug Prosecutions Fall to Lowest Levels in Over 13 Years and Criminal Deportation Filings Dip to 12%—provide some insight into the types of reports you might find in TRACfed.
If you are interested in learning about the “lead charges” under the U.S. Code assigned by federal prosecutors across the country, you can use the “About the law” tool. Just click on a section of the U.S. Code and find out how many prosecutions and convictions took place and what their geographic distribution was. Would it surprise you to learn that in 2013 there was a total of 71 prosecutions and 43 convictions under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and that most of those cases occurred in the eastern half of the United States?
For those more interested in accessing data to do their own analysis, tracfed has three tools designed to meet a range of needs aptly called Express, Going Deeper and Analyzer. The data that can be accessed with these tools varies based on which of the 6 “layers” of information you are researching:
- Criminal (enforcement)
- Civil (enforcement)
- Administrative (enforcement)
- People (federal employees)
- Money (federal expenditures)
- Context (demographic and economic information about your community)
Using the Criminal layer as an example: if you want to know the monthly prosecution, conviction or prison sentences of one year or more, then the pull-down menu in the Express tool is the one for you. If you also want to know the lead charges, what agency brought them, and what prosecutions were declined, then use Going Deeper. If you want to create your own unique data slice on a topic or by a specific agency or statute, use Analyzer, but be sure to first take the Guided Tour to familiarize yourself with this powerful tool.
The design of TRACfed interface looks somewhat dated and cluttered, but once you get started it is surprisingly easy to navigate. It contains a massive amount of federal government data and provides robust tools to meet the needs of the beginning and expert researcher. TRACfed is the product of a nonpartisan project associated with Syracuse University.
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 10:18am
Odd as it may sound, Business Source Complete can yield a bounty of useful information for student research. This is surprising, of course, since very few assignments focus on business specifically. But under the umbrella “business” we find management and administration, labor and personnel matters, crime and security, even intellectual property.
If a student is researching police suicide, for example, Business Source Complete yields hundreds of hits for the search terms “police” and “suicide” or “stress.” A search for “intellectual property” likewise brings up more articles than any undergraduate could use. We might expect both of those topics to be covered by this database, but what about a more sociological question? The favelas of urban Brazil offer a fertile field for research from a sociological or urban studies perspective, so it might seem a misstep to try Business Source Complete. But even here we get over 150 hits, and it would be worth investigating whether that set of articles differs from what comes up under SocIndex, for example (actually, Business Source has a few more hits than SocIndex).
When students embark on such a research quest, they must be encouraged to go where the sources take them, rather than mining the results for a specific answer. Toward that end, we should encourage them to venture beyond Academic Search Complete and jstor. After all, who knows what they may find in Business Source Complete, or even the Military and Government Collection.
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 10:15am
Advanced search box.
A single search box and expandable search widgets!
You may have noticed LexisNexis’s new main page. Gone are the three content search boxes in the middle of the screen. They have been replaced by a single search box that retrieves results from news sources, federal and state cases, law reviews and company profiles. This single search will display up to 1000 results where applicable. The three content search boxes for news, legal cases and business information are now placed on the bottom of the page and are expandable (see the news search box expanded in the screenshot on the right). They perform quick searches for news articles and legal cases. The main page continues to feature links to articles on “Hot Topics” in the news. A new “Tools” menu is located on the left and features video tutorials, research guides and a list of content titles in LexisNexis.
You might be wondering where the advanced search form is now located. Underneath the single search bar you’ll find an advance search option that allows you to specify a date range, build a segment or field-specific search (e.g. “Headline” for news sources), specify a source, and select by content type.
For more advanced content-specific searches, click on the “Search By Content Type” option above the search box. Here you will find options for searching news, legal, international legal and other content. Click on one of these links and then select the advanced search option below the single search box for content specific search filters. Landmark cases by topic (e.g. abortion, capital punishment, and civil rights) are now listed under most links in the legal subsection of the Search By Content Type menu.
If you have any questions about the new LexisNexis interface, please contact the Library.
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 10:11am
We are proud to announce the launch of the Lloyd Sealy Library Digital Collections. Our rich digitized resources are a boon to researchers, instructors, students, and the general public. From 1930s Sing Sing mug shots to photographs from NYPD history to exclusive oral history interviews with major figures in criminal justice, our digital collections are freely available to the public and include many public domain images. Presented here are highlights from each of the collections we feature online.
Browse through the collections yourself at dc.lib.jjay.cuny.edu!
Justice in New York: An Oral History stretches across more than half a century, from the 1950s to the 2010s. Those years saw an unprecedented rise in social unrest and violent crime in the city, and then an equally dramatic drop in crime and disorder. If the interviews have an overarching theme, it is how the city—the police, courts, elected officials, and advocates—addressed and overcame those challenges. These men and women were actors in that drama, and their narratives stand on their own. The truth or mendacity of the story is for the reader to assess.
The images in this collection portray arrested crime suspects, their rap sheets, crime scenes and crime investigation, dating from 1940–1945 and located mainly in Brooklyn. Burton Turkus (1902–1982) collected and created these documents while he was a Assistant District Attorney and Chief of the Homicide Division in the Office of the District Attorney, Kings County (Brooklyn), 1940–1945. During this time, he investigated and prosecuted key members of the organized crime syndicate based in Brownsville, Brooklyn that came to be known as Murder, Inc.
Policemen guarding children on public skating ponds
The photographs and images in this collection are selected from the New York Police Department's annual reports issued from 1912 to 1923. The full annual reports are held in Lloyd Sealy Library and have been fully digitized. They include crime statistics, events in the history of the NYPD, and descriptions of city policy. Each image record includes the link to the source report.
Photograph of Sing Sing baseball team with trophies
The images are of items collected by Lewis E. Lawes while Warden of Sing Sing between 1920–1941. Most are photographs taken in and around Sing Sing and illustrate the prison, its inmates and officers, and Lawes himself. Included are photographs of death row inmates executed at Sing Sing, some dating from before 1920.
Mother Teresa at John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the 23rd Commencement
The John Jay College Archives are part of the Special Collections of the Lloyd Sealy Library. The archives holds a wide variety of material such as correspondence, reports, studies, newspapers, newsletters, brochures, college yearbooks, bulletins, audiotapes, videotapes, photographs, and architectural plans. Some of these materials are presented in this online collection.
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 6:26pm
Top: A little journey to the home of Jac Auer. Bottom: papers of retired NYPD Assistant Commissioner Philip McGuire.
We recently came across two beautifully illustrated works which came to us with the Helpern Library, a large collection of books that was de-acquisitioned by the NYC Health Department.
In the last decade of the 19th century, a successful industrialist, Elbert Hubbard, inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, founded a community of artisans in upstate New York, the Roycrofters. These woodworkers, artists, printers and bookbinders explored organic, naturalistic visions of the world. Hubbard’s 1915 account of a celebrity physical fitness promoter, A little journey to the home of Jac Auer, was one of a series of Little journeys published by their small print press. Hubbard himself died later that year in the sinking of the Lusitania. A digitized copy of a variant edition can be read on HathiTrust. Our copy is printed on watermarked paper, bound in suede, illustrated with graphics in red and black inks, with black and white photographs.
On the other side of the Atlantic, after the Great War, Dr. Fritz Kahn was accompanying his popular science works with extraordinary machine-inspired biomedical illustrations. Best known perhaps is his 1926 poster of the human body as a chemical plant, Der Mensch als Industriepalast (Man as Industrial Palace). While we do not have the good fortune of owning that wonderful item, we do now have some of his illustrations in a 1926 English translation of his popular science booklet, The Cell. Kahn originally published the booklet in Stuttgart in 1919, as part of the Cosmos series. The paper of our copy is quite brittle and can be handled only with great care. Happily the same illustrations can be seen risk-free in a digitized copy of the original German print on Project Gutenberg.
Just arrived in the archives are the papers of retired NYPD Assistant Commissioner Philip McGuire. McGuire’s professional interests at the NYPD included the use of information systems for crime analysis. The collection has not yet been processed, but we believe his records are likely to provide a unique look at the development of computerized crime mapping. We hope to make the collection available to researchers this summer. Shown here is a 1970s dot-matrix print-out showing a crime map of the area around City College.
We have also acquired an early American edition of Beccaria’s Essay on Crimes and Punishments, published by R. Bell in Philadelphia in 1778, bound in its original sheepskin.
Ellen Sexton is the Interim Special Collections Librarian.
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 6:13pm
Faculty favorites: wherein faculty share a favorite book with the rest of us.
Carmen Solis, SEEK Department
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2014). 4th ed. Racism without racists: color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.
Bonilla-Silva, a sociologist at Duke University, brings to light issues of color-blind ideologies and how those become ways to implement racist strategies. He helps one to see things like language context and story lines in color-blind dramas very differently. The analysis teaches one a lot.
The third edition is available on textbook reserve and in the library stacks: E184.A1 B597 2010
James Cauthen, Chair, Political Science Department
Kuhn, T. S. (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Originally published in 1962, I first read this book on the history of science as a graduate student almost 20 years ago and I still think about it today. Its biggest impact on me was Kuhn’s view that scientific advancement is not incremental and linear, but rather through a series of revolutions. These revolutions come about after “puzzle-solving” within a dominant paradigm reveals weaknesses in the paradigm, leading to revolution and a new paradigm. Although Kuhn was a physicist who later focused on the history and philosophy of science, his work has application in the social sciences and beyond. Whenever you hear the phrase “paradigm shift,” you can thank Thomas Kuhn.
Available in the library stacks: Q175.K95 1970
Comments solicited by Janice Dunham.
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 6:08pm
The Library maintains an impressive collection of video materials in the form of DVDs, VHS, and streaming video. We circulate materials mostly among John Jay College faculty and students but sometimes also lend them to other CUNY schools after making special arrangements. To ensure that a video will be available for your class, please make reservations in advance. Students are allowed to use the DVD/VHS collection in-library only. We have refurbished our media room on the ground floor of the Library and a small group of students (up to 8 people) can have a viewing there.
We welcome suggestions from the faculty for future purchases. In the meantime, browse through the list of the latest video acquisitions. Descriptions are followed by the videos’ call numbers.
In American Drug War 2: Cannabis Destiny (DVD, 90 minutes) director Kevin Booth navigates through the cutting edge of cannabis research while becoming a foster parent to a child who is court ordered to take powerful, mind-altering drugs. This film uncovers the true profit motives that continue to keep marijuana inside the black market. DVD - 1280
Based on the international bestseller, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is both a gripping thriller and a fascinating look at the post-9/11 world. An interview between an American journalist and a Pakistani professor forms the spine of Mira Nair's sociopolitical character study. DVD - 1262
Dirty Wars tells about the dirty little secret of the War on Terror: all bets are off, and almost anything goes. The rules of the game and of engagement have fundamentally changed. Today drone strikes, night raids, and U.S. government targeted killings occur in corners across the globe, killing untold numbers of civilians. Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command, the most secret fighting force in U.S. history. DVD - 1264
When people think about World War II, wondering what it meant for the fate of museum-quality art is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Yet as the documentary The Rape Of Europa demonstrates, this is a surprisingly vast and involving topic. Written, produced and directed by Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen and Nicole Newnham and based on the authoritative book of the same name by Lynn H. Nicholas. DVD - 1261
Aileen: Life & Death of a Serial Killer. Nick Broomfield explores the life of Aileen Wuornos, the prostitute executed in Florida for killing six men. Includes examinations of her childhood, testimony at her trial by Broomfield, and a chilling speech by Wuornos herself. DVD - 240
Aileen Wurnos: The Selling of a Serial Killer. A twisted tale of murder, alleged police corruption and conniving opportunists that tracks the sensational trial and conviction of "America's First Female Serial Killer." DVD – 1299 & VHS - 995
Most Evil: The Serial Killer Matrix (3 discs). What drives someone to kill? Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Stone explores the answer to this mystery and much more with his groundbreaking ’index of depravity’ that decodes the killer’s mind, method, and motive. DVD - 1295
Killers Among Us - Portraits in Evil: 4 Disc Box Set - 20 Part Series: America's Serial Killers; Includes Columbine High School & Virginia Tech Massacre. DVD - 1297
Ted Bundy. Who was he? How was his serial killer personality formed? And how did he keep his violent nature hidden? Interviews with prosecutors, detectives, psychiatrists, forensic scientists, and Bundy's neighbors and classmates to seek answers. DVD - 1300
Twilight: Los Angeles. On March 3, 1991, an African-American man was brutally beaten by four white Los Angeles police officers who stopped him for speeding. On April 29, 1992, when the jury's "not guilty" verdict dismissed the officers on trial for the assault, the city ignited into three days of rioting, looting and violence that left neighborhoods smoldering. Twilight: Los Angeles, adapted from Anna Deavere Smith's searing one-woman play, captures this tumultuous and challenging moment in America's race relations. VHS - 1858
The Child Cases. Correspondent A.C. Thompson unearths more than 20 child death cases in which people were jailed on medical evidence that was later found unreliable. Are death investigators being properly trained for child cases? DVD - 1306
The Suicide Tourist. Do we have the right to end our lives if life itself becomes unbearable, or we are terminally ill? With unique access to Dignitas, the Swiss non-profit that has helped over one thousand people die, filmmaker John Zaritsky offers a revealing look at two couples facing the most difficult decision of their lives. DVD - 1304
Wikisecrets. Behind the leaking of more than half-a-million classified documents on the Wikileaks website stand two very different men: Julian Assange, the Internet activist and hacker who published the documents, and an Army intelligence analyst named Bradley E. Manning. DVD - 1305
Opium Brides and the Secret War. Award-winning Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi reports on the harrowing story of families torn apart and the collateral damage of the counter-narcotics effort in Afghanistan. DVD - 1303
New York Street Games captures a special time in American history. From Boxball to Ring-o-leavio to Skully, the film addresses the social and cultural importance of these games and the sense of community they engendered. DVD - 1302
The Central Park Five tells the story of a horrific crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories and an outraged public, and the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice. DVD - 1210
Maria Kiriakova, Interim Media Librarian (email@example.com)
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 6:04pm
In the words of Victoria Law, the editor, our recently acquired zine* series is “a collection of articles, essays, poetry and art by formerly and currently incarcerated women across the United States. Their works cover subjects like the health care (or lack of health care) system, being HIV-positive inside prison, trying to get an education while in prison, sexual harassment by prison staff and general prison conditions, and giving up children for adoption—in the U.S., if a child is in foster care for 15 of the past 22 months, the state automatically terminates the parent’s legal rights. Many women in prison have sentences far exceeding 15 months and the majority of them were single parents before entering prison” (Tenacious, 2009).
Law founded Tenacious in 2003 in response to a request from incarcerated women in Oregon who could find no outlet for their work. It is produced in print format only. As access to the internet is extremely limited within prisons, an “open access” publishing model would be of no benefit whatsoever to the majority of the zine’s incarcerated readers. Law handles distribution herself, mailing issues to women prisoners free of charge, and covering her costs by asking readers on the outside to pay $3 per issue.
*What’s a zine? It’s a DIY-style publication of original work, usually with a small circulation.
- Tenacious: Art and writing from women in prison: An interview with Vikki Law from New York, United States. 2/13/2009.
- Law, Victoria. (2007). Incarcerated women create their own media (available online to John Jay community). Off our backs 37(1): 37-42.
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 5:58pm