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

Lloyd Sealy Library

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Library News Blog

Group photo of librarians and library staff

The Library Department’s 2019 yearbook photo, featuring some of our faculty and staff. Photo by Caroline Kim, Committee on Commencement Activities.

Faculty notes

Larry Sullivan was elected to the Caxton Club, a Chicago bibliophilic society founded in 1895. 

Ellen Belcher presented the paper “Peopling Pots and Potting People: Anthropomorphic Ceramics in the Halaf and Neolithic Anatolia” at the Third International Workshop on Ceramics from the Late Neolithic Near East, in Antalya, Turkey on March 8, 2019.

Robin Davis presented “The Final Death(s) of Digital Scholarship: An Ongoing Case Study of DH2005 Projects” at the Digital Afterlives Symposium at Bard Graduate Center, March 1, 2019. She also presented “Bot Literacy: Teaching Librarians to Make Twitter Bots” with Mark Eaton at Computers in Libraries in Arlington, VA on March 27, 2019. As of June 13, 2019, she will be leaving John Jay to join NC State University Libraries as the User Experience Librarian. She is grateful to have spent seven wonderful years at Lloyd Sealy Library and will miss John Jay and her colleagues very much.

Library news in brief

Digital theses update
Ninety-nine theses have been submitted electronically since the process was established in late Fall 2016. Almost half of those (47) were submitted by students in Forensic Psychology, followed by Forensic Science (27), then Criminal Justice (11), Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity (6), Forensic Mental health Counseling (6), and International Criminal Justice (2).

John Jay theses are published and accessible in two places: The ProQuest Dissertation and Theses database and CUNY Academic Works. Via CUNY Academic Works, theses have been downloaded in 126 countries. The top of the list for some time has been “Tattoos and Criminal Behavior: An examination of the relationship between body art and crime” followed by “Risk and Prevalence of Personality Disorders in Sexual Offenders.” To see what all the fuss is about (854 and 506 downloads respectively) see for yourself by following those links to read them in CUNY Academic Works. Theses largely come from the fields of psychology, forensic science and criminal justice. These data are a strong bit of evidence illustrating the impact and reach of the institutional repository. Theses published to these platforms in the last two years are no doubt getting significantly more traction than theses that would otherwise be discoverable only through library catalogs. If you are a student or faculty member publishing work that you hope to be read and cited, please consider submitting to Academic Works. Kathleen Collins

24-hour Library Lab
The Library Reserve Lab, including the new extended study area, will be open continuously from 8:30am on May 13 until 9:45pm on May 22, 2019. That’s 220+ hours straight of open study space! With support from Student Council, as well as the Library and Public Safety, we are happy to provide a safe place for John Jay students to prepare for their final exams and projects. The Reserve Lab’s extended study area seats 24 users at computer workstations and provides many outlets for students to bring their own devices. The Library has sponsored the 24-hour Library Lab every semester since Spring 2014, and it is one of the most popular services we offer. Robin Davis

JJAY Students app
Since the new John Jay app for students debuted last summer on iOS and Android, over 5,000 students and faculty have downloaded it. The app serves as a directory of student services and clubs, a notification hub for important reminders such as Commencement deadlines, and a unified campus events listing. The Library piloted listing weekly workshops on the app’s calendar this semester. Students can now discover these workshops, add them to their schedules, and check in, all through the app. Student feedback so far has been positive. For those who don’t have the app, workshops are always listed on the library website, the main College calendar, and on flyers throughout campus. Robin Davis

More from the Spring 2019 newsletter

Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 3:53pm

Title page, Les Voleuses de Grands Magasins

From the Desk of the Chief Librarian

Larry E. Sullivan

"These monsters in nature, models of hell, curse of the earth, women that dare attempt anything, and what they attempt they care not how they accomplish.” This quote from John Marston’s Jacobean revenge drama The Malcontent (ca. 1603) typifies many of the psychological, biological, anthropological, and criminological views of women’s criminality well into the twenty-first century. In honor of Women’s History Month in March, the Sealy Library acquired two classic French studies on female criminality that are exemplars of this view: Paul Dubuisson, Les voleuses dans les grand magasin [“Shoplifters in Department Stores] (1902), and Raymond de Ryckère, La Femme en prison et devant la mort [“Women in Prison and to Death”] (Lyon, 1898). Both of these books follow such theories as those of Cesare Lombroso, Sigmund Freud, and W. I. Thomas on the causes of crimes committed by women. For example, Lombroso, in his The Female Offender (1903), concluded that criminality among females was an inherent tendency reduced to biological atavisms. He attempted to prove this assertion by using, among other methods, anthropometric analysis to conclude that the cranial capacity of female criminals and prostitutes are more similar to lunatics than to normal women. Sigmund Freud in his New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1933) saw women using crime to avenge on men their lack of a penis. W. I. Thomas in The Unadjusted Girl (1923) described women as manipulating the male sex urge for ulterior purposes. In addition, Otto Pollack depicts women as inherently deceitful in his work, The Criminality of Women (1950). We could cite many other theories of female crime in the literature, but most hearken back to our opening quotation from the early seventeenth century.

Our two new additions are very rare French works that fit right into this tradition of theories about the female offender. Sealy Library’s copy of Paul Dubuisson’s work on shoplifting is the only known copy in the United States. The first large department store in Paris was Le Bon Marché, founded in 1838. Dubuisson, a French psychologist, mentions that “a special folly seizes a woman after she crossed the threshold of a great department store.” Even honest women, he goes on to say, are fallible to the “disease of kleptomania.” In 1816, kleptomania was first diagnosed as an impulse control disorder. By the beginning of the 20th century, such Freudians and eugenicists as Eugen Bleuler considered kleptomania among pathological and reactive impulses, and indicated that kleptomania is irresistible and not related to antisocial behaviors. In the twenty-first century many studies have reverted to more sophisticated biological theories of such crimes, a neurobiologic disorder rather than a psychological one. For example, in 2017, the Mayo Clinic reported in a study that two-thirds of kleptomaniacs are women. Today, we often link this crime with biological disorders that link kleptomania with the neurotransmitter pathways in the brain associated with behavioral addictions, including those associated with the serotonin, dopamine, and opioid systems.

Raymond de Ryckère in La Femme en prison… took a Freudian view of female criminality viewing women as “unpredictable narcissistic cats.” He believed that females were much more deceitful than men and more wily. His conclusion was that female judges should adjudicate crimes committed by women because they were “more astute and more pitiless than men.”

These acquisitions illustrate once again the scope and depth of our historical and international criminal justice collections and burnish our reputation as the premier research library in criminal justice in the United States. Such rare French studies, both from the holdings of noted French collector Philippe Zoummeroff, broaden our understanding of the development of theories of crime and are welcome additions to the Sealy Library.

More from the Spring 2019 newsletter

Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 3:40pm

Experts from publisher Elsevier will be on campus to give a special SCOPUS training session, on Wednesday, 20 March 2019, during Community Hour 1:40 – 3 pm, in the Library classroom (on the upper floor of the library, west side). 

Open to all John Jay College students, staff & faculty.

Learn about Scopus’ comprehensive abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature within scientific journals, books, and conference proceedings. The training will be led by SCOPUS experts from the publisher Elsevier.

  • Find existing discoveries in the global world of research
  • Differentiate research topics and profound ideas
  • Identify and analyze which journals to read/submit to
  • Position your career – view citation counts and h-indices
  • Decide what, where, and with whom to collaborate
  • Track research impact; view global research trends


Questions? RSVP? Contact Maureen Richards at marichards@jjay.cuny.edu

Posted Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - 5:24pm

Book cover, a corset with a green ribbon around itHer Body and Other Parties: Stories (Graywolf Press, 2017) by Carmen Maria Machado is a stunning short story collection that weaves together elements of science fiction, psychological horror, and dark comedy. I was glued to this book from the very first story—Machado’s characters navigate dangerous worlds, communicate with ghosts, and grapple with dread. Her Body and Other Parties is currently on the 2018 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize Shortlist and was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction. According to Deadline, FX has just secured the rights to a TV series based on the book, billing it as a “feminist Black Mirror with fairy tale themes,” which sounds spot-on. Available to check out from multiple CUNY libraries, including Hunter and BMCC. Robin Davis


Book cover, with a window open to blue skies with cloudsBlue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds by Lauren Slater (Little, Brown, 2018). Slater traces the history of psychopharmacology over the last century via nine drugs/treatments, from Thorazine to deep brain stimulation. She incorporates the decades-long experiments with treatments for her own depression, though this is more a collection of micro-histories than a memoir. It’s a journey of uses, misuses, trials and missteps, as well as the changing medical and popular attitudes towards various drugs and towards psychotherapy and other non-chemical treatments. There’s just enough science to satisfy the curious layperson interested in the workings of the brain; she describes what happens to rats on certain drugs but is most interested in addressing the human element. Available to check out from multiple CUNY libraries, including KBCC and QBCC. Kathleen Collins


Book cover, with a sad-looking young boy. There is also a National Book Award Finalist sticker.Hey, Kiddo (Graphix, 2018) is a moving graphic novel by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. This is a departure from Krosoczka’s usual work, which includes the Lunch Lady series and other children’s literature. Raised partly by his single mother, who is a drug addict, and mostly by his grandparents, Krosoczka retreated into art as a way to cope with his turbulent family life. The memoir follows him as he becomes a young adult, blossoms as an artist, tracks down his father, and reckons with his mother’s addiction, stints in rehab, and fatal overdose. This graphic novel is pegged as appropriate for ages 12–18, but adults will find it an absorbing, charming, and complex read, too. Available to check out from KBCC. Robin Davis


Book cover, with a microphone and empty stoolA Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (translation Knopf, 2017). A cocktail of stream of consciousness, jokes and tears in one glass. One evening of a stand-up comedy act by one man is described in almost 200 pages. Are you laughing at the man or with the man because he has no tears anymore? Did he plan this evening or is he improvising on the spot? This book is not a light read although it is impossible to put it down until you read it all. Available to check out from multiple CUNY libraries, including Baruch and Hunter. Maria Kiriakova


More from the Fall 2018 newsletter

Posted Monday, November 12, 2018 - 4:36pm

Digitization news

Ellen Belcher

Black and white scan of a trial transcript from the New York Supreme Court, 1912

On a hot July night in 1912, a gentleman known as “Beansy” was shot outside his illegal gambling establishment at 104 West 45th Street. By October of that same year, seven men came before the Supreme Court of New York County, all charged with first-degree murder of Herman “Beansy” Rosenthal, including a NYPD Lieutenant named Charles Becker. Thus began a series of famous trials and public discussion about corruption in the NYPD and who was responsible for planning and carrying out Rosenthal’s murder.

Ultimately, five of the original defendants were found guilty on appeal and were executed at Sing Sing Prison. While it is generally agreed that Lieutenant Becker was “on the take” and had a far too cozy relationship with members of the “Lenox Hill Gang” (his co-defendants in this first trial), speculation on the guilt or innocence of Becker for this particular murder continues to be hotly debated and is the subject of five books so far.

The transcripts of three trials related to this case are in our Criminal Trial Transcripts of New York County Collection, which has been available on microfilm since 1985. The first half of the first trial (2,100 pages long) is available on the Library’s Digital Collections. We will make the second half and the other trials digitally available in 2019. In the meantime, we have supplemented the metadata with links to many other resources related to this case.


Mug shot of Frank Cerefisi Mug shot of Louis Rosenberg Mug shot of Charles Becker

Mug shot of Harry Horowitz Mug shot of Jacob Seidenshner

Above: Sing Sing prisoner identification photographs of five co-defendants ultimately found guilty of Rosenthal’s murder. From the Lewis Lawes Papers, available on the Library’s Digital Collections , where you can find more aliases for the men pictured here.


Richard Enright in NYPD Uniform in front of a large wreath    Richard Enright speaking to guests at a luncheon or dinner.

Earlier this year we received the Richard E. Enright Papers. Enright was NYPD Commissioner from 1914 to 1928. The donation was received from a retired garbage collector who found them in the trash on his route in Milwaukee. The entire collection has now been described in a finding aid, and all 20 items have been digitized and are now uploaded to the Library’s Digital Collections.

However, we have had a difficult time identifying the people, events, and dates for some of these items.

If you can help, please contact us.


More from the Fall 2018 newsletter

Posted Monday, November 12, 2018 - 4:09pm

Ellen Sexton

We have just started subscribing to Academic Videos Online (AVON), the most extensive product curated by Alexander Street Press, a vendor that licenses video collections to university libraries. AVON contains 66,000 titles from multiple disciplines and in diverse formats: documentaries, feature films, lectures, news programs, and more. The metadata describing each video is detailed and includes abstracts and subject headings. Most (but not all) of the videos are closed-captioned in English.

A young boy with the caption, "and they tied my hands to the back. And they said, I, why violate the rule in the camp."


AVON videos are accessed via two user interfaces: the ProQuest search interface and the Alexander Street platform.

The ProQuest interface consists of an index with descriptive metadata and just a tiny thumbnail image of the video. The thumbnail image links to the video itself, which is hosted by Alexander Street on their platform.

This is an unusual construction for a database, but the ProQuest search interface alleviates significant aesthetic and functional problems with the Alexander Street platform. Searching the metadata on the ProQuest interface is many times quicker than on the Alexander Street platform. (Unfortunately, there is no easy link back to the ProQuest search engine from the Alexander Street platform, but perhaps that is something they will eventually add.)


The fastest and most efficient way of searching for videos by title or by specific topic is by way of the ProQuest search layer. The advanced search is especially powerful: searches can be limited by document type, language, and publication date. Word searches can be narrowed to specific record fields, including title, subject, location, person, etc.

All of the metadata is also harvested and shared with the library’s main discovery tool, OneSearch. Restricting OneSearch results to Resource type: Audio visual makes for more efficient searching and will search video content from multiple vendors.

The best way of browsing by discipline is on the Alexander Street Platform—slow, but it works.

An older woman in a traditional Nigerian hat telling a young woman, "You will give birth to a daughter too."


There’s a substantial amount of more obviously educational material. Documentaries, archival footage, news programs, training materials, music performances, and lectures typically appear in search results. Many are short enough to show in their entirety during one undergraduate course period and still have time for discussion.

AVON includes content previously packaged for us as American History in Video and Criminal Justice & Public Safety in Video. The easiest way to browse content from either of these collections is to navigate via the discipline headings on the Alexander Street platform—for instance, Social Sciences » Criminal Justice & Public Safety.

Middle-aged black man in glasses behind a desk covered in books, with a background of many books

The feature film content is astonishingly good, though not easy to browse. It is discoverable using the ProQuest interface by limiting the search to results tagged with the document type “performances.” Or search for the name of a distributor, or a particular award. Some films that caught my eye include, from distributor Kino Lorber, The Return (2003), City of Life and Death (2009), and Happy Together (1997).

From Music Box films we get Ida (2014), Seraphine (2008), Viva Riva (2011), Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present (2012).

From Sony Pictures Classics, we get Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens) (2002), Persepolis (2007), Made in Dagenham (2010), 12 (2007), Frozen River (2008), Volver (2006), Waltz With Bashir (2008), The Triplets of Belleville (2003), Sunshine State (2002), Friends with Money (2006), Breakfast on Pluto (2005), House of Flying Daggers (2004), The Raid: Redemption (2012), and The Tango Lesson (1997).

Also notable are We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), Bicho de Sete Cabeças (2000), and many award-winning movies from the Middle East, Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, South and East Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Early film is represented in the collection with titles from Edison and Ford, The Battleship Potemkin, and other silent classics. An interesting micro-collection is the 13-title Pioneers of African-American Cinema.

Award-winning documentaries include The Sorrow and the Pity (1969), The Fog of War (2003), Call Me Kuchu (2012), Crumb (1994), Dogtown and Z-Boys (2002), Beirut Diaries (2006), 33 Days (2007), My Millennial Life (2016), Long Night’s Journey Into Day (2010), When the Bough Breaks (2001), Cinema Komunisto (2010), Happy Valley (2014), After Tiller (2013). Also present are Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (2016), New York: The Green Revolution (2013), (un)veiled: Muslim Women Talk About Hijab (2007), The Devil Came on Horseback (2007).

An older woman with white hair is outside a closed office door carrying a sign that says, "Kill the Xpressway Now!" A weary older man inside the office looks at the camera.


For best results, use a recent version of Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Firefox. Videos will not play in Safari, including Safari for iOS devices.

The Alexander Street platform is slow to load content. This is especially noticeable when going from the ProQuest interface to the video, and when playing videos off-campus. It does take time for the video to buffer initially before playing. Patience and consciously restraining from clicking pay off. We have been assured by the vendor that there are plans in motion to substantially improve the appearance and functionality of the Alexander Street platform. Until then, the best approach is to use the ProQuest layer for searching, and browse and view the videos on the Alexander Street platform. The quality of the content mitigates the imperfections of the user interface.


More from the Fall 2018 newsletter

Posted Monday, November 12, 2018 - 3:53pm

Ellen Sexton

We now subscribe to the Docuseek2 Compete Collection of documentaries and social issues films. The content comes from Bullfrog Films, Icarus Films (including The Fanlight Collection and dGenerate Films), Kartemquin Films, MediaStorm, the National Film Board of Canada, Scorpion TV, Sincerely Films, Terra Nova Films, and KimStim. Bullfrog and Icarus were founded in the 1970s and together founded Docuseek to stream documentaries via college libraries.

To explore the content, browse the platform, or if you are looking for a specific title, use the Library’s OneSearch discovery tool. Worth noting are Addiction Incorporated (2014), Anthropocene (2016), The Yes Men Fix The World (2009), Xmas Without China (2013), Vulva 3.0 (2014), Mobutu, King of Zaire (2000), United States of Africa (2011), Talk to Me: Teens Speak Out About Sexual Violence (2006), The American Ruling Class (2007), and Death By Design (2017).  

To further whet your appetite, some titles are described below.

Two black men in a crowd carrying protest signs, one of which says We Got the News About how Dues Are Being (last word blocked from view)

Finally Got the News (2003): A documentary “about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, which was, ‘in many respects the most significant expression of black radical thought and activism in the 1960s.’ —Manning Marable, Prof. of History, Columbia Univ.” (Docuseek2 description).

The Great Flood (2013): Original footage of the Mississippi River Flood of 1927, with a wordless soundtrack of blues inspired music.

Brother Towns / Pueblos Hermanos (2010): “An uplifting story about Jupiter, Florida’s humane response to an influx of day laborers from Jacaltenango, Guatemala….Our story includes voices of those opposed to undocumented immigrants as well as advocates helping migrants who seek work and hope, whether documented or not” (Docuseek2 description).

Dust motes sparkle in the air in front of an empty doorway and a tree

Nostalgia for the Light (2011): “Director Patricio Guzman travels to Chile’s Atacama Desert where astronomers examine distant galaxies, archaeologists uncover traces of ancient civilizations, and women dig for the remains of disappeared relatives” (Docuseek2 description).

Milking the Rhino (2009): “The promise of community-based conservation in Africa” (Docuseek2 description).

Facing Death (2003): “A comprehensive look into the life and work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of the landmark On Death and Dying” (Docuseek2 description). 

How Happy Can You Be? (2005): “What is happiness? And how do we get more of it? Visiting leading figures in positive psychology and observing clinical experiments, this is a light-hearted but serious investigation” (Docuseek2 description).

Swim for the River (2006): A swimmer swims the Hudson River from its source in the Adirondacks all the way to New York Harbor, talking to people along the way about past and present pollution threats, including oil seeping into the Newtown Creek.


More from the Fall 2018 newsletter

Posted Monday, November 12, 2018 - 3:41pm

Cover: World Atlas of Illicit Flows, set against a background of sand dunes and camels

Tracing transnational organized crime

Maria Kiriakova

Recently, the library cataloged an electronic version of The World Atlas of Illicit Flows.

This 152-page document was introduced on the margins of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly on September 25th. Its creation was possible due to the collaboration between INTERPOL, RHIPTO Norwegian Centre for Global Analyses, and the Global Initiative. Through outstanding charts and graphs, the atlas illustrates how transnational organized crime has infiltrated every corner of society worldwide, exploiting governance weaknesses during local conflicts and sustaining non-armed groups and terrorists. The document provides the first consolidated overview of illicit flows and their significance in conflicts worldwide. There are over a thousand smuggling routes worldwide of goods and services associated with environmental crime, drugs, and people.

Twelve chapters illustrate an atrocious scope of the catastrophe of transnational organized crime, including environmental crime, which is more lucrative than human trafficking. It provides more than a third of income that finances the largest armed groups. Two other big groups of sources for armed groups are illegal trade and exploitation of fuel (20 percent), and illicit taxation and extortion (17 percent). Twenty-eight percent of these groups’ income is derived from production, trafficking, and taxation of drugs. The largest, least risky, and most profitable illicit environmental industry is illegal logging. Other crimes in the World Atlas of Illicit Flows includes illegal wildlife trade; in the document, we learn that pangolins are the world’s most trafficked animals. Human trafficking is also covered; economically speaking, it is the fourth-largest global crime sector, with an estimated annual market value of at least US$157 billion.

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, one of the sponsors of the World Atlas of Illicit Flows, is a non-for-profit organization that attempts to regenerate the debate around countering organized crime, illicit trafficking, and trade. Established about seven years ago, this network of experts around the world grew rapidly, including experts in law enforcement agencies, law practitioners, senior officials in international organizations like UN and INTERPOL, academics, and civil society organizations. It encourages free thinking and debate, looks at the problems of trafficking and illicit trade from new angles, mobilizes political will, and creates new ideas. The Global Initiative website has an abundance of information, research publications, policy briefs, infographics, and more. The research publications can be searched by topic, type of document and type of crime.

The Global Initiative is a young organization that has big potential and is already influential in the international arena. Its website should be bookmarked by students learning about international criminal justice, terrorism, economic and environmental crimes. The Global Initiative’s recent environmental crime projects include a search engine that deconstructs law into data, setting the foundation for an unprecedented ability to conduct smart searches within the laws, compare key legal concepts among jurisdictions, and assess the quality of legal systems to effectively manage societal challenge. Another initiative, UN-TOC Watch, seeks to monitor and analyze how the UN System has been responding to organized crime in the period 2012-2017. There were 1,113 UN Security Council passed resolutions analyzed in reference to different types of crime. The findings are just hot off the press, titled Organized Crime and Its Role in Contemporary Conflict: An Analysis of UN Security Council Resolutions. The collected data can be further explored by the region and type of crime.


More from the Fall 2018 newsletter

Posted Thursday, November 8, 2018 - 5:51pm

Selected by Maria Kiriakova

Chemical Slavery book over  Dopesick book over  The Making of Black Lives Matter book over  Pirate Women book over  Sexographies book over  When They Call You a Terrorist book over

Duncombe, L. (2017). Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press. Stacks G535 .D848 2017

DuPont, R. (2018). Chemical Slavery: Understanding Addiction and Stopping the Drug Epidemic. Rockville, MD: Institute for Behavior and Health. Stacks RC564.29 .D876 2018

Eatmon, D., & Fairey, Shepard. (2017). Chuck D presents This Day in Rap and Hip-Hop History. London: Cassell Illustrated. Stacks ML3531 .C58 2017

Fliter, J. (2018). Child Labor in America: The Epic Legal Struggle to Protect Children. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press. Stacks KF3552 .F55 2018

Galeotti, M. (2018). The Vory: Russia's Super Mafia. New Haven: Yale University Press. Stacks HV6439.R8 G35 2018

Khan-Cullors, P., Bandele, Asha, & Davis, Angela Y. (2018). When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Stacks E185.97.K43 A3 2018

Lebron, C. (2017). The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea. New York: Oxford University Press. Stacks E185.615 .L393 2017 and ebook.

Macy, B. (2018). Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Company that Addicted America. New York: Little, Brown and Company. Stacks RC568.O45 M33 2018

Oldfield, W., & Bruce, Victoria. (2018). Inspector Oldfield and the Black Hand Society: America's Original Gangsters and the U.S. Postal Detective Who Brought Them to Justice. New York: Touchstone. Stacks HV6448 .O53 2018

Walton, T. (2010). Challenges in Intelligence Analysis: Lessons from 1300 BCE to the Present. New York: Cambridge University Press. Reserve JF1525.I6 W39 2010

Wiener, G., Adcock, Jennifer, & Greaves, Lucy. (2018). Sexographies. Brooklyn, NY: Restless Books. Stacks HQ29 .W536 2018

More from the Fall 2018 newsletter

Posted Thursday, November 8, 2018 - 5:47pm

Reviewing NYPL’s ebook reader

Robin Davis

Smartphone displaying SimplyE, with Bestsellers and Staff picks book listsAs I waited on the Columbus Circle subway platform, a friend emailed me to recommend Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff’s 2015 novel. By the time the C train doors opened—really!—I was already reading the ebook for free on my smartphone with the SimplyE app. A little frisson of librarian glee ran through me.

Anyone who has struggled with other ebook readers from libraries will understand my joy. Historically, apps like Overdrive and Adobe Digital Editions have been very user-unfriendly. (Even the ebook vendors that Lloyd Sealy Library works with make downloading ebooks for offline use very difficult, although reading online is a cinch.) But SimplyE simply works.

How to use SimplyE

SimplyE is free to download and is available for iOS and Android, and it requires a library card sign-in. If you have a New York Public Library (NYPL) or Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) card, you can access ebooks that are available through those library systems. The app’s home screen displays current best sellers in fiction and non-fiction, staff picks of recent publications, young adult books, and books in Spanish, Russian, and Chinese. Just tap on a book cover to download or reserve it.

(Don’t have a library card? First, let me strongly recommend that you get one! As my colleague Maureen Richards notes in this newsletter, there are many benefits to an NYPL card even beyond checking out print books from their many lovely bricks-and-mortar branches. But until you treat yourself to a library card, you can choose to get ebooks on SimplyE by choosing the Digital Public Library of America as your home library. Their ebooks include public domain classics, some academic press publications, and some children’s books.)

Features and bugs

I use the SimplyE app quite a lot on my Android phone. Browsing and searching work as expected, and it’s infrequent that a book I want to read isn’t in the catalog. What is frequent, however, are long queues for very popular books. (I am currently 635th in line to read Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects.) Just like print books, library ebooks are usually limited in number, so only a certain number of people can download it at a time. Don’t get disheartened, though—you can reserve a place in the queue for unavailable ebooks, and in the meantime, there are plenty of available ones. You can filter the catalog to display only currently downloadable books to avoid disappointment.

Ebook downloads are very fast. The app allows you to read downloaded ebooks without network service, which can be a lifesaver when your subway train is delayed in a tunnel.

There is one odd bug in the Android app that plagues me: when I change font size or page background color, the app takes me back to the first page in the chapter I’m reading—even if that means rewinding 200 pages. (As a programmer myself, I can appreciate the challenge of this seemingly simple function.) As it happens, this bug turns out to be a great incentive to finish a chapter before closing out of SimplyE.

Background of the app

The app is designed and built by Library Simplified, a group of 10 public libraries with NYPL as the lead partner. The Library Simplified project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “Through our collective action,” the Library Simplified website says, “libraries can better connect more people to more books[,] for we believe more people reading more is our ultimate mission. SimplyE is how we hope to connect more people to more books from libraries.”* Hear, hear!

* Source: “About.” Library Simplified. Accessed 17 Oct. 2018.

Ebooks at John Jay

I would be remiss not to note that Lloyd Sealy Library also gives you online access to many ebooks. These are primarily academic publications that support the multidisciplinary research done on our campus. You can find ebooks through OneSearch, which displays a “Full text available” link instead of a call number for ebooks. Reading (or “streaming”) ebooks online is easy as pie, and downloading a chapter at a time as a PDF isn’t too hard, but downloading entire books for offline reading can be immensely onerous and confusing. That said, our ebook collections continue to grow and have proven to be very convenient for off-campus research.

More from the Fall 2018 newsletter

Posted Thursday, November 8, 2018 - 5:38pm