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

Lloyd Sealy Library

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Digital References Resources: Never a better time to use them

Screen capture of the Remote Resources for a Distance Learning Environment guide

With the physical library closed, our circulating collection is inaccessible. This means that items placed on reserve are also inaccessible, putting many students in a difficult situation. Many rely on using the textbooks on reserve, scanning pages as needed. Now, unless someone had the foresight (and copyright permission) to scan an entire text, they are out of luck. Basing assignments entirely on an assigned text all but guarantees that many students will fall behind and be unable to complete assignments.

With that in mind, instructors should identify alternative readings and modify assignments accordingly. Suggesting that students summarize Chapter 7 is impossible for someone without the ($200) text. Instead, ask them about the specific content covered in the chapter, and present them with options as to where they might find similar information.

For many topics covered in a textbook, our digital reference works will do nicely. Under Databases by subject, select Encyclopedias and Dictionaries. Found there will be academic reference works, many with substantial entries. The beauty of these entries is that each provides a basic definition, examples, and usually a discussion of controversies associated with the topic.

As one example, look up “bystander effect.” Britannica Academic has a solid article. Gale eBooks has more than a half dozen: a three-page entry in the Encyclopedia of Social Psychology; a two-page entry in Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology; an entry in the Glossary of Social and Behavioral Sciences. There is also “Bystander intervention,” a five-page piece in Encyclopedia of Psychology and Mental Health and “Bystander apathy,” two pages in Encyclopedia of Street Crime in America. Sage Knowledge Collection also showed many results.

A possible assignment would be to ask students to compare the information found in two or three of these. If there is a question on an exam, point the class to these resources. In many instances, covering the material is what matters, not where it comes from.

For more assignment ideas, see the Library’s Information Literacy guide. For additional digital resources available during this remote teaching and learning period, see our Remote Resources for a Distance Learning Environment guide.

-Jeffrey Kroessler

Posted: 
April 3, 2020