Library News Blog

Two charger cables

While staplers remain high in demand, we have been expanding the range of supplies and accessories we offer at the Reference Desk. When the Library added additional group study rooms—equipped with white boards, large monitors with multiple HDMI hookups, and outlets—we started to provide students with dry-erase markers and adapters to connect their individual devices to the room’s projector.

After many a desperate request, we have also purchased a few phone chargers that have quickly become popular. All these items can now be checked out at the Reference and Circulation Desks for 3 hours at a time. 


November 2017

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Ellen Belcher

In preparation for our upcoming exhibit, “Rogues Gallery: Forty Year Retrospective of Courtroom Art from Son of Sam to El Chapo” (Shiva Art Gallery, November 29 through February 2), I have been spending a lot of time with the Richard Tomlinson Collection of Courtroom Drawings. It strikes me that while many of us are familiar with courtroom drawings, we don’t know much about the process of courtroom artists.  

By Richard Tomlinson. An artist making a drawing in court.

As I reported previously in this newsletter (Spring 2012, p. 15), Richard Tomlinson worked as a courtroom artist for three decades. For quite a while, he worked covering New York City area trials full-time for Channel 5 WNEW news. He and other artists, working for other news outlets, would sit side by side, drawing boards in their laps at the front of the courtroom, surrounded by their art supplies, working quickly to capture all the action of the court proceedings within their allotted space on the courtroom bench.  Richard Tomlinson was well known for drawing in a small, confined area with a few materials in his pocket and a pair of binoculars next to him; others spread out onto every free area on the bench and floor. At the end of the proceedings, courtroom artists ran outside to waiting news photographers and cameramen, who would immediately shoot the drawings in natural light on the sidewalk. Other times, artists lugged their drawings to Midtown newsrooms on the subway (or sometimes by a speeding cab), where editors shuffled through them looking for the best shot to illustrate breaking news stories.  Now courtroom artists scan their drawings in their studios and email them to newsroom editors.  

Four sketches by Richard Tomlinson

Courtroom artists employ a range of materials to capture all the color, actions, and emotions of court proceedings quickly.  Sometimes the court appearance of defendants and witnesses is so brief that only a quick sketch can be accomplished, which is later colored in with details added from memory.   The paper has to be the right size and texture to capture and hold the action as well as the drawing media, and it must stand up to possible rough handling. Everyone develops their own distinctive style, which could change over time, or with each trial. While pastels and charcoal can be messy and easily smudged, they are by far the most used medium because of their ease of use in rendering quick, colorful, and expressive drawings.  Richard Tomlinson often did a charcoal sketch that he then filled in with colored oil crayon, pencils, or watercolor onto a thin, smooth—but very durable—vellum paper. Other artist materials include markers, pens, and gouache in any combination, all of which must correctly interface with the paper. 

While courtroom artists are dwindling in number due to the widespread introduction of cameras in the courtroom, the Special Collections has a growing collection of courtroom art, launched by the Richard Tomlinson Collection and now supplemented with gifts of the Elizabeth Williams Collection and Aggie Kenny Collection. Portions of all these collections will be on exhibit in the Shiva Art Gallery exhibit, opening on November 29. Examples from these collections will also soon also appear in our Digital Collections. 

A selection of resources on courtroom artists 

Church, M.. (2006). The art of justice: An eyewitness view of thirty infamous trials Philadelphia, Pa.: Quirk. Reserve (3 day loan)  NC953.8 .C47 A4 2006 

Dengrove, I. L. (1990). My days in court: unique views of the famous and infamous by a court artist. New York: Morrow. Stacks  NC 953.8 .D46 A2 1990 

 Hobman, P. (2015). Trial & image: Courtroom artists capture the colors and gestures of justice. ArtNews 115(2), 110-117. 

Library of Congress, Washington D.C. (2017). Drawing justice: The art of courtroom drawing.  Online exhibit.

Frost, Natasha. (August 2017). The dying art of courtroom illustration. Atlas Obscura Blog.

Williams, E.. (2014). The illustrated courtroom: 50 years of court art. Reserve (3 day loan) NC953.5 .U6 W54 2014 

November 2017

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Maria Kiriakova

The Library’s monograph collection is multifaceted and reflects a variety of subjects that are hot topics in today’s mass media outlets. These passionately debated issues include race and ethnicity. Below are just a few examples of the books (in print and electronic format) that deal with the issue of being black in different parts of the world throughout history. See the location provided to find these materials in our library.

Six book covers

Aitken, R. (2015). Black Germany: The making and unmaking of a diaspora community, 1884-1960 (1st pbk ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stacks DD78 .B55 A48 2013

Alexandrov, V. (2013). The Black Russian. New York, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press. Stacks DK34 .B53 A43 2013

Campt, T. (2004). Other Germans: Black Germans and the politics of race, gender, and memory in the Third Reich (UPCC book collections on Project MUSE). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Stacks DD78 .B55 C36 2004 and also available in as an ebook, unlimited user access.

Chambers, E. (2017). Roots and Culture: Cultural politics in the making of Black Britain. I B Tauris & Co Ltd. Stacks DA125.N4 C39 2017

Dixon, K. & Burdick, J. (2012). Comparative Perspectives on Afro-Latin America. University Press of Florida. Available as an ebook, unlimited user access.

Earle, T. F., & Lowe, K. J. P. (2005). Black Africans in Renaissance Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press. Stacks D233.2 .B44 E26 2005

Hondius, D. (2014). Blackness in Western Europe: Racial patterns of paternalism and exclusion. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. Stacks D1056.2 .B55 H66 2014

Marable, M. & Agard-Jones, V. (2008). Transnational Blackness: Navigating the global color line (1st ed., Critical Black studies series). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Stacks and Reserve HT1581 .T73 2008 

Ramey, L. (2014). Black Legacies: Race and the European Middle Ages. Florida: University Press of Florida. Available as an ebook, unlimited user access.

Smith, C. A. (2016). Afro-Paradise: Blackness, violence, and performance in Brazil. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Available as an ebook, unlimited user access.

Trigos, L. A, Svobodny, N., Nepomnyashchy, C. (2006). Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and blackness (Studies of the Harriman Institute). Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press. Stacks PG3358 .R33 U53 2006

Wyatt, Don J. (2011). Blacks of Premodern China. University of Pennsylvania Press. Available as an ebook, unlimited user access.

November 2017

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Gaslight Lawyers coverMaria Kiriakova

Gaslight Lawyers: Criminal Trials & Exploits in Gilded Age New York by Richard H. Underwood was published this year by Shadelandhouse Modern Press in Lexington, Kentucky. The book was recently acquired by the Library (Stacks KF355.N4 U53 2017). It has an excellent bibliography, and many of the works cited are also available via the Sealy Library.

Professor Underwood did his research in the New York Public Library, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Library of Congress, among others, but he highlights the Lloyd Sealy Library’s trial transcripts collection in his acknowledgements—and he opens the book with a special dedication:

To John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Lloyd Sealy Library, with a special tribute to librarians Ellen Belcher, Ellen Sexton, and Bonnie Nelson

November 2017

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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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Strokes of Genius: A History of Swimming cover

Maria Kiriakova

It is always interesting to observe how books are published in waves. One year, many books are published on the topic of cleaning, for example, while another year Internet security sees a surge of publications. Surprisingly, the year of 2017 brought two books on the history of swimming that the library acquired.

In Strokes of Genius: A History of Swimming that was just published by Reaktion Books in London, Eric Chaline researches how swimming contributed to the evolution of species and surveys this art of human movement from prehistory to the current era. The author looks at swimming not just as a sport, but also as a part of religious, military, and medical history. You can find this book in the Stacks, GV836.4 .C43 2017.

Swell: A Water biography cover

The other book is Swell: A Waterbiography by Jenny Landreth (Bloomsbury Publishing). It is a fascinating account of societal norms prescribed for swimmers of different genders in the last two centuries. You can read the whole story of the “swimming suffragettes” who liberated swimming for women by picking up the book from the Stacks, GV837.5 .L36 2017.

November 2017

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Recently acquired by the Media Department

Ellen Sexton

Timbuktu poster

Timbuktu  DVD 1480  a 2014 French-Mauritanian drama film directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, telling the story of an occupation of Timbuktu by Islamic militants, as experienced by one small family.

Woman in gold poster

Woman in gold DVD 1481  An elderly Jewish woman fights a legal battle to recover a Klimt painting stolen from her family by Nazis.  

Waltz with Bashir promotional image

Waltz with Bashir  DVD 1473  Animated autobiographical account of the 1982 Lebanon war and massacres at Sabra and Shatila.

Touching the void.  DVD 1479  Feature film on surviving a climbing accident in the Peruvian Andes. 

La jaula de oro [the golden dream] DVD 1471 Director Quemada-Díez, 2013, social-realist drama of Guatemalan teenagers travelling through Mexico to the United States.

Billy Budd  (Peter Ustinov, 1962).  DVD 1478

Juno  DVD 1470

Alien quadrilogy: Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection.     DVD 1472 

High school.  2010.  “What could possibly go wrong when you steal a psycho drug dealer's stash to get the whole school high?”   DVD 1474 

Kiss me deadly (Mike Hammer investigates the murder of a mysterious blonde; classic film noir from 1955).  DVD 1475

Murder in Coweta county  True-crime story set in 1948 rural Georgia.   DVD 1463

Looking to assign a DVD to your class? We recommend requesting DVDs for in-class viewing in advance.

For viewing outside of class, students may request a DVD by call number (e.g., DVD 1477) at the Circulation Desk. They may view it in the library with headphones or in the Media Viewing Room (seats 6), but cannot take it out of the library.

November 2017

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Recently acquired by the Media Department

Ellen Sexton

Free CeCe cover

Free CeCE  (DVD 1482) An African American trans-woman’s experiences of violence, incarceration, and activism highlights transphobia, racism and the everyday dangers faced by transgender people. 

Windmill photo

Marathon for justice (streaming plus DVD 1485)  Environmental justice is explored around the themes of air, water and land in this documentary; activists in Philadelphia protesting industrial air pollution, Navajo people coping with water poisoned by uranium mining, and Lakota in the Black Hills struggling for reimbursement for land stolen from them by the United States.

Festival au desert photo

Last song before the war (DVD 1484)  The 2011 music Festival au Desert in northern Mali. 

Untouchable cover

Untouchable  (DVD 1483)  Ex-Bronx Defender David Feige’s 2016 documentary explores issues surrounding child sexual abuse and the restrictions placed on registered sex offenders.  It won the new documentary director award at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. 

Capitalism, in six episodes. Streaming from Icarus Films on the Docuseek2 platform:

Inside the criminal mind (30 documentary episodes, directed by Ron Meyer).   DVD 1476 

National Gallery Director Frederick Wiseman, 2014.   DVD 1469

You’ve been trumped  DVD 1464

Brotherhood: life in the FDNY  DVD 1465

Burn: One year on the front lines of the battle to save Detroit   DVD 1466

Too hot for Burn (more Detroit firefighting)  DVD 1468

Incarcerating US  DVD 1467   Also available streaming on Docuseek2 platform.

The brainwashing of my Dad  DVD 1461

National Gallery Frederick Wiseman documentary, 2014.   DVD 1469

A good job: stories of the FDNY DVD 1462

American teen Five Indiana high school students tell what it is really like. DVD 1477

Looking to assign a DVD to your class? We recommend requesting DVDs for in-class viewing in advance.

For viewing outside of class, students may request a DVD by call number (e.g., DVD 1477) at the Circulation Desk. They may view it in the library with headphones or in the Media Viewing Room (seats 6), but cannot take it out of the library.

November 2017

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Phones, tablets, and computer displaying BrowZine

Maureen Richards

When you want library resources, do you typically think about looking for them in databases? Do you search the CUNY+ catalog for a book? Explore the Library’s growing streaming video collections by going to Films on Demand or one of the Alexander Street video databases? Or do you just head directly to a favorite database like JSTOR, PsycINFO, Project Muse or Google Scholar?

Chances are that you have your list of go-to sources and have not thought much about library databases on a more macro-level. If you did, one of the first things you would discover is that the majority of library databases provide access to scholarly journals—those peer reviewed, academic journals that are often required sources for papers and research projects, particularly in upper level courses and graduate work. You would also discover that despite the abundance of these journals in the scholarly literature landscape, the vast majority of them are now only available electronically through libraries. 

In other words, opportunities to cozy up with your favorite academic journal are fleeting. 

Much to the chagrin of journal editors, most of these journal articles are discovered as the result of keyword searches in databases, without any links to the journal issue. Our speed-of-light, get-it-anywhere-anytime-online delivery methods provide access to these articles, often as an easy-to-access PDF—but without the context of the journal issue. 

Screenshot of social science and behavioral science journal selection

BrowZine, the Library’s newest tool for browsing journals, is trying to change this. We think this is a good thing, since every year students and faculty at John Jay download the full text of about 1 million journal articles... and context matters!

BrowZine allows you to access and browse over 15,000 academic e-journals, much like you might browse their print counterparts. In BrowZine, you can find any academic e-journal title that the Library subscribes to that has an ISSN or eISSN number. BrowZine operates in a web environment but it uses journal covers and journal page images that have the look and feel of a bookshelf. It has been compared to Flipster, an app for browsing popular magazines (available remotely to all NYPL library card holders), but for academic journals. 

BrowZine has a web version and mobile apps. All platforms allow you to view complete issues of e-journals that the Library subscribes to, dating back to 2005, including the table of contents. The web version provides access to more content because it provides extra links to content through the Library website. The web version also shows the impact factor for the different journals. The app version focuses exclusively on the approximately 15,000 academic e-journals that have an ISSN or eISSN number, and is great for tracking and reading your favorite journals on the go from your phone or tablet. 

How do I get BrowZine?

To access the web version of BrowZine, you can go directly to Alternatively, you can go to the Browse journals by subject link under Journal titles on the library website. For the app version, download the mobile app on your iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Select the John Jay College library on the “Settings” page and then enter your John Jay user name and password—the same that you use for your John Jay email.

How do I use BrowZine?

You can search for journals by title, subject, or ISSN. Once you begin typing in the search box, a list of results will begin populating. Be sure to pay attention to the accompanying icon for a particular result.  A red file icon indicates that this result is for a subject category. A blue book icon indicates that the result is for the title of a specific journal. For example, a search for “criminal justice” will retrieve both subject category results and journal title results. 

Set up a personal account so you can create a personal library and save up to 64 journal titles to your bookshelf. By doing so, you will get alerts when a new issue of a journal is published and be able to save articles to read later, even when you are offline. You can also save citations to tools like Zotero, RefWorks, Dropbox, and Mendeley to help keep all of your information together in one place. 

Should I use BrowZine with students?

A common complaint from faculty is that students are not selecting appropriate sources. By introducing students to BrowZine, which only accesses academic journals, they can only get scholarly content. Furthermore, by introducing students to journals, and not just journal articles, BrowZine can be used to put journals back in context for students who are frequently unfamiliar with academic journals and how they are used for scholarly discourse within a discipline.

Consider asking students to follow certain journals in a subject area and identify current areas of research. This will familiarize students with key journals in a field and encourage them to select articles of interest from the recent literature. All subject and journal URLs in BrowZine are persistent links, so connecting students to journals in BrowZine is easy. Simply copy and paste the URL from the address bar into your syllabus or Blackboard course. 

What BrowZine is not

Keep in mind that BrowZine is a browsing tool, not a discovery tool. You cannot conduct keyword searches to find articles in BrowZine, and it should not be used as a substitute for a comprehensive search of the library literature.


For more information about getting started with BrowZine, consider viewing a very short video. Once you get started, we look forward to your feedback!

November 2017

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Jeffrey Kroessler

The editorial page of any newspaper is often the most interesting. We scream at the small-mindedness. We wonder at the ignorance. We cheer the courage. We consider the nuances. We question our own certainties. And we learn to respect the combative nature of ideas in the public arena. 

Our students do not know what an editorial is. Nor, obviously, an op-ed.

I grew up reading newspapers. I read the sports pages (first), absorbed the editorial cartoons, and marveled at the letters to the editor. Early on, I understood the fundamental difference between information—news—and opinion. And so learned to form my own informed viewpoint.

But that was a print world. Students now inhabit a digital world. When was the last time you saw a student carrying a copy of the Daily News? Or, god forbid, the Wall Street Journal? True, all members of the John Jay community have access to a free digital subscription to the Times, but do we know how students use that? Do they click on the editorial pages?

For much of their schooling, students have been taught to look out for bias. Bias is bad. From there it is a short bridge to seeing opinion as bad, and therefore editorials are suspect.

In my own research on urban affairs, I always look to see what the Times thought. I go into the New York Times Historical database and limit results to articles and editorials (and then, being a historian, “oldest first”). When I ask students whether an editorial would be useful for their topic, they invariably answer no.

How can students who have not read editorials or understand their role in public discourse comprehend the concept of a community of opinion, or the role of opinion shapers? When news comes from everywhere, there is no authoritative voice, and thus no opinion carries more weight than any other.

We have digital access to many newspapers. You will find Ethnic Newswatch; New York State Newspapers; National Newspaper Index; LesisNexis, and more. Consider also Opposing Viewpoints in Context, listed on our website under the subject Current Events. Ask students to find and evaluate opinion pieces on the same issue. Does everyone agree? Are their own viewpoints validated? Are they outraged? What do they think?


November 2017

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