Library News Blog

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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Open/Alternative Educational Resources at CUNY

Ellen Sexton

Might students be more likely to arrive in class ready to learn if getting access to assigned readings did not involve paying a large amount of money? Would they read the first week’s materials in time if they did not have to wait for a book to be mailed to their home? Would the course be better if the learning materials were customized for your needs? 

Faculty around CUNY are dropping textbooks in favor of open and alternative educational resources. Hundreds of courses are currently listed in CUNYfirst as “Z” courses—those with zero textbook costs for students—and New York State has awarded $4 million to CUNY to develop more. One way of making a course zero-cost is by using Library reserves, or by putting links from your Blackboard site to electronic journal articles and book chapters licensed or owned by the Library—that’s what we are calling “alternative” educational resources (AER). The “open” educational resource (OER) concept moves far beyond those strategies, embracing remixing, re-editing and re-creation of content. 

David Wiley, the man behind Lumen Learning/Waymaker, has defined open educational resources as copyrightable works that have been licensed so that users can retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the content. Creative Commons licenses are commonly used to indicate various degrees of openness. The MERLOTx repository, led by California State University, and the Open Textbook Library hosted by the University of Minnesota are two of the best-known repositories of open learning materials. They are great places to see the range of easily discoverable materials available for adoption, remixing, anthologizing, etc. Lumen Learning hosts open textbooks but requires students to pay a small per-semester fee for access. CUNY has taken on the payment of such fees for the spring semester. Of course, “zero-cost to students” does not mean free of effort from faculty. Creating or choosing and adapting open resources involves labor. As OER practitioners have observed, open is “free” as in puppies, rather than “free” as in beer. 

Professor Karen Okamoto has created a guide to zero-cost (to students) textbook alternatives for John Jay faculty, with links to CUNY and SUNY activities.

Introducing Vee Herrington 

Vee Herrington is joining us to support CUNY’s initiative to replace costly textbooks with alternative resources at zero-cost to students. Vee led an open educational resource initiative at CUNY’s Guttman Community College, where she was Chief of the Library and Director of Academic Technology. Her familiarity with library licensed content and OER will be invaluable in supporting faculty who are exploring new pedagogical practices. 

Vee has worked at Bell Labs and was Command Librarian of the US Army Military Intelligence Corps. Her many credentials include a doctorate in instructional technology. Vee will be with us as a non-teaching adjunct librarian, for two days a week, working closely with Ray Patton and Gina Foster. She may be contacted at

Open Access: Have you received an email from Saad?

Librarian Saad Abulhab has been tasked with reaching out to faculty to encourage them to deposit copies or pre-prints of their published articles in our institutional repository, CUNY Academic Works. He is trawling through bibliographic databases to gather citations, and checking journals’ self-archiving policies. His aim is to identify works that are permitted by the publisher to be posted on the institutional repository. He has been sending out emails to faculty whose work we believe may be posted on CUNY Academic Works if the author agrees. Faculty grant permission via a web form, where they type out the title of the work(s), tick a box agreeing to terms and conditions, and click a button to submit. Saad is a scholar of Arabic scripts, and has posted his own articles on CUNY Academic Works. 

November 2017

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RefWorks → ProQuest RefWorks

If you have been using RefWorks to manage your research and citations, you may be aware that changes are afoot. As you export a citation from an article database to RefWorks, you have likely seen the option to export to either the “legacy” (original) version or the new version. As the legacy version is guaranteed to remain available only through the end of 2017, we suggest you take the time now to migrate to the new version.

To do a “soft migration,” after you log into the legacy RefWorks, you will see a link at the top of the screen that says, “Move to the newest version of RefWorks from ProQuest.” Choosing that link will move your account data to the new RefWorks. You will be prompted to login to the new RefWorks using your college email. Even if you used your college email to create your original account, do not choose the option that says “Use login from my institution,” if you see it. At this point you are essentially creating a new account. If you currently sign into legacy RefWorks with your institutional email, you are advised to use a different password from the legacy account to avoid confusion. Your new RefWorks account will be created and all your records and folders will be copied from legacy RefWorks. 

You may also move your references to the new version from within the new RefWorks. This requires that you have already created an account in the new version of RefWorks. Use “Import References” from the Add menu icon to move your references from the old to the new RefWorks. For this method and for new RefWorks users, simply head to the new RefWorks.

It is possible to have accounts on both platforms, but it is only possible to import new citations to one. We advise that once you migrate your citations from the legacy RefWorks to the new version, you no longer use the legacy RefWorks. While it may take a little bit of getting used to the new environment, the improvements are more than worth the brief adjustment period.

If you any questions about using RefWorks, visit our RefWorks guide. You may also email Prof. Kathleen Collins. And keep an eye out for introduction workshops, too.

November 2017

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Peggy Teich

The library now subscribes to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Papers database. According to their website, NBER, “founded in 1920, (is) a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to conducting economic research and to disseminating research findings among academics, public policy makers, and business professionals.” 

Paper example, The earnings of undocumented immigrants

Working papers are written by scholars and experts in a field, prior to submitting those papers to peer-reviewed journals or book editors. They typically contain extensive datasets including time-series data on a wide variety of topics. They also include comprehensive bibliographies.

While the papers found in this database are primarily socio-economic, their scope is in fact much broader. Working papers can be found on topics such as criminal justice, public administration, political science, history, demographics and education. 

For example, a simple search on the term immigrants pulled up papers with an expected economic bent such as:

  • The Earnings of Undocumented Immigrants
  • Are Immigrants a Shot in the Arm for the Local Economy?

But the search also retrieved papers on the following cultural, historical, sociological, and demographic topics:

  • The Educational Attainment of Immigrants: Trends and Implications
  • Immigrants and Gender Roles: Assimilation vs. Culture
  • Intergenerational Persistence of Health in the U.S.: Do Immigrants Get Healthier as they Assimilate? 

Give NBER a try!

November 2017

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Marta Bladek

Coupled with the current political climate, the College’s mission to educate for justice has been prominently reflected in the kinds of research questions and interests we have been encountering this Fall at the Reference Desk, in our workshops, and course-tailored library sessions. Fittingly, students and faculty have been seeking more information on critical issues that have been garnering the media and public attention. 

Gerrymandering and redistricting: viewpoints, articles, and more

The Library offers access to an array of current events resources. One that stands out is the Opposing Viewpoints in Contexts database, readily embraced by students who first encounter it in their first-year library workshop. Faculty who touch on current events and debates in their courses and have students research related topics may want to take a closer look at it.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context appeals to students because of its visual and multimedia-rich platform. It is also easily searchable and browsable by topic. Featured resources range from print-based (news items, including editorials, magazine, and journal articles) to multimedia (NPR podcast and news video clips), with statistics and maps if available. As with a vast majority of databases, students can print, email, save, and get help with citation. 

The range of topics Opposing Viewpoints covers complements the ease and convenience of its interface. Regularly updated and featuring newly available content, the database addresses such pressing issues as Confederate Remembrance, Freedom of Speech, Gerrymandering and Redistricting, North Korea, US-Puerto Rico Relations, and many others. The range and variety of information offered allow students to get a fairly comprehensive understanding of an issue, thus providing a great foundation for an in-depth engagement with a topic.

November 2017

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