Library News Blog

*Institutional Repository

In November 2011 the CUNY Faculty Senate adopted a resolution supporting the development of an open-access institutional repository (IR). It was further resolved that the faculty — working through the University Faculty Senate and the Office of Library Services — should develop guidelines for depositing materials into that repository. CUNY Academic Works, the name given to the CUNY IR, was launched in March 2015. Representative of a range of scholarly and creative works by members of the CUNY community, the repository now contains over 9,150 papers, including peer-reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings, and student works such as theses and dissertations. With Academic Works off to a successful start, it is time to begin a conversation about what guidelines faculty wish to adopt relating to the archiving and sharing of their works in this new institutional repository.

Brief History of Open Access

The open access movement in the scholarly communications field grew out of the confluence of three issues: economics, ethics, and widespread access to the Internet. Economic concerns related to escalating prices for journals, particularly in the STEM disciplines, coupled with the fact that much of the research published in these journals was government funded, in effect, requiring taxpayers to pay twice, once for the research and then again for access to the research results. Increasingly frustrated by copyright agreements restricting their ability to broadly disseminate their works and by the fact that publishers, not authors, were the ones reaping the direct financial benefits, scholars were inspired by the World Wide Web to find new ways to reach a wider audience. While recognizing the added value of working with experienced publishers, increasingly authors are questioning whether it is necessary to give publishers complete copyright control over all their works. Some authors are opting to publish their work in open access journals; others are publishing in pay for access journals and then self-archiving a copy in an open access repository. (For a more complete, but focused history of the open access movement we recommend Peter Suber’s Open Access Overview).

Open Access Journals vs. Open Access Repositories

Open access (OA) literature has been defined as “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions” (Suber, Overview). As journals move from print format to electronic dissemination, some, including mainstream journals, are now either completely or partially open access. Some appear to be using limited open access as a public relations tool: Springer recently opened up a small subset of its articles to mark National Criminal Justice Month. In addition, a growing number of journals that are not following an open access model are expressly permitting authors to self-archive some version of their published articles on web sites including their institutional repository (see SHERPA/RoMEO, a database of publishers’ policies on copyright and self-archiving). To make it easier to protect an author’s right to deposit works in an institutional repository, many faculty bodies are adopting policies requiring its members to do so, effectively overwriting any provisions in publisher agreements to the contrary. Luckily, these policies do not appear to have limited in any way the places in which authors are choosing to publish.

Today, Directory of Open Access Journals includes over 11,000 open access journals and Registry of Open Access Repositories lists over 4,000 open access repositories. CUNY is the publisher of some of these open access journals (see e.g., CiberLetra, Revista de Critica Litereraria y de Cultura, Journal of Literary Criticism and Culture, Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, LLJournal, and Urban Library Journal). Using the policies of the Urban Library Journal as an example, it is not unusual for open access journals to unabashedly encourage authors to deposit their works in institutional repositories so long as there is an acknowledgement of its initial publication in said journal.

Some repositories are established and maintained by academic institutions like CUNY’s Academic Works; some are focused on data and others serve the interests of a specific discipline. Increasingly popular are the social networking platforms created by for-profit companies that enable researchers to share their work, promote their research interests and communicate with one another.  These platforms are neither repositories nor open access vehicles. Key features of open access repositories are the permanence of the posted content and the unimpeded access for all viewers.  The social media platforms allow account holders to remove their materials after posting and force potential viewers to create accounts before gaining access to the work.  There is considerable debate about the appropriateness of these networks for sharing academic work, the long-term goals of the companies behind them, and the ethical ramifications of using them. Nevertheless, they have wide appeal and do demonstrate the principle underlying the open access movement:  the desire to widely share one’s work. The chart shows some of the tools John Jay faculty are using to provide access to their works.

Policies to deposit work in Institutional Repositories

As illustrated by activity of John Jay faculty, CUNY’s commitment to open access is still in the early stages. Does CUNY, a public university funded by taxpayers and a community of scholars interested in sharing its research with the broadest possible audience, want to increase that commitment? Faculty at the University of California, Harvard, Kansas State, Rutgers and MIT and over 530 university or research institutions have adopted policies requiring faculty to deposit their articles in their respective institutional repositories, as reported in The Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARmap). Might departments and/or colleges and/or the entire City University be ready for that step? What information does the faculty need to make this decision?

Table of OA vehicle options

Download this chart as a PDF (with OCR)

Learn more and join the conversation

For more information on CUNY Academic Works and how you can join the conversation and/or add your works to the CUNY IR, take a look at the guide at

For a focused history of the open access movement we recommend Peter Suber’s Open Access Overview at

For details about publishers’ policies on copyright and self-archiving, please consult the SHERPA/RoMEO database at

Directory of Open Access Journals can be accessed at

Registry of Open Access Repositories can be found at

You may review the Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARmap) at


Jeffrey Kroessler, Maureen Richards and Ellen Sexton

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The infamous Pirate Bay and Napster were the first widely known copyright infringing peer-to-peer file sharing services to draw the attention of law enforcement authorities. Music and movies are not the only files that are shared illegally. Academic peer reviewed articles now have their own pirate sites in SciHub and Library Genesis, both of which are currently located beyond the immediate reach of Western court orders on servers in Russia. The scale of SciHub’s content theft makes it significantly different from the unorganized informal #icanhazpdf exchanges occurring on Twitter. A significant part of SciHub’s operation is to use the “donated” sign-on credentials of people employed by or enrolled at colleges across the world to access and steal massive amounts of content from legitimate library-publisher computer networks. This is theft from both libraries and publishers. Libraries make agreements with publishers to enable access to licensed content for our own user groups, and only our user groups, in return for license fees paid for by our institutions and ultimately by our students and taxpayers. Small academic society publishers reliant on subscription fees may arguably be most negatively affected by SciHub, but also threatened are the behemoths of the publishing world such as Elsevier which is currently engaged in legal action against SciHub. The claim by SciHub that is providing open access is diminished by the fact that neither authors nor publishers are giving permission to SciHub to share their content. SciHub will likely eventually go the way of Pirate Bay and Napster — forced to change and legitimize their business models to fit in with established intellectual property norms. SciHub has already lost its use of a .org suffix in a court ruling by a New York District court in 2015. But meanwhile we have a responsibility to educate our students to respect intellectual property and teach them how to access content legally.

You have a citation; here’s how to get to the article without visiting a pirate site or using Twitter hashtags of questionable legality:

These easy to use library tools should be familiar to every member of the faculty, graduate and upper level undergraduate students.

1. The “FInd journals Online” tool on our homepage (under the tab marked “journals”) to get to either an online subscription to a specific journal, or licensed access to it through a database.

2. Our DOI resolver, for those occasions when you know the unique Digital Object Identifier of a published article. It’s part of our citation linker tool – no need to fill in the other citation details, just put the DOI into the relevant field. This citation linker tool also lets you search using the author and article title without knowing the DOI. Get to it by clicking on the “Find an article by citation” link on our homepage.

3. If these tools fail to get you to the needed article, use interlibrary loan. Requested articles can most often be delivered to you within a couple of days, and sometimes within hours. Thanks to copyright law and license agreements hammered out between librarians, publishers, and database vendors, we can usually deliver the needed article as a pdf. We are reminded just how convenient that is on those rare occasions when we cannot find a provider in this country and must send our request further afield. We have generous German colleagues who help us with article requests, but are permitted to do so only by sending a photocopy through the mail. We are of course grateful to our European colleagues for their generosity in sharing their materials with us, and happy to be reminded how much more easily and quickly U.S. libraries can legally and ethically share their resources via electronic communication.

Because so much of the content we provide is not “free on the web,” knowing that we must use our proxy server to access library resources when off-campus can be very useful in clearing up those mysteries as to why getting to something works seamlessly on campus but not from home. Sometimes simply Googling an article citation while on campus will locate the article deep in one of our licensed resources, but this won’t work from home, as your IP address will not be recognized as being inside the pay wall. (For more about our proxy server, visit But the tools listed above should get you to the article you need, from home, as they work well with our proxy server.

Ellen Sexton

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Elsevier’s Scopus, the prominent multidisciplinary abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, has recently introduced a new Metrics module that offers a glimpse of an article’s scholarly impact. The new Metrics module aims to show how a given article has been received by the scholarly community, the public, and even the media. It also measures the article’s impact as compared with similar articles (Scopus considers articles to be “similar” and calculates percentile benchmarks based on publication date, document type, and discipline associated with the source).

The Metrics module includes citation counts, the more traditional measure of scholarly impact, but it also captures a wider range of metrics that complement citations:

  • Scholarly Activity keeps track of downloads and posts in research portals such as Mendeley and CiteULike
  • Mass Media tracks the article’s media coverage
  • Scholarly Commentary lists the number of reviews, blog posts and Wikipedia entries that reference the article
  • Social Activity counts the times the article has been mentioned on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

Insofar as it captures the scholarly and public engagement with a researcher’s work, the Metrics module offers a more comprehensive overview of how an article enters and performs in the field than citation counts alone are able to.

Individual John Jay researchers whose work is indexed in Scopus can easily access their metrics. After performing an author search, a list of articles by a given author will come up. Each article will include the Metrics module in the lower right corner of the page.

For example, very quickly, I was able to gather the metrics for Professor Saul Kassin’s 2011 article on “Inside Interrogation: The Lie, the Bluff, and False Confessions.”

Scopus metrics details

As always, when referencing scholarly impact metrics, researchers and evaluators should be aware of the many caveats that relying solely on numbers has. Notably, even as it promotes the Metrics module, Elsevier calls “for the responsible use of metrics.” For an overview of the advantages and problems that scholarly output measures present, please consult the Library’s regularly updated Faculty Scholarship Resources guide. The guide aims to assist faculty who want to locate, gather, and present their scholarly works’ impact in a way that reflects the complex and imperfect nature of existing research assessment measures.

Marta Bladek

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The graduate student experience poses an interesting challenge in connection with the Library, not unlike that of distance learners (some of whom may overlap). As many graduate students work full or part time, are engaged in internships, or take classes mainly in the evening, they are not physically present on campus as often or as long as undergraduates. As a result, they have the potential to feel on the fringes of the college community. This problem is certainly not unique to John Jay or CUNY, and a fair amount of research has been published about the specific needs of graduate students nationwide. The Office of Graduate Studies has made significant strides in the hopes of bridging this inevitable gap, including a monthly social hour for fellow students and faculty and a robust series of workshops offered in early evenings. Each semester this workshop program includes at least two library sessions covering topics such as library database searching.

There is an unfortunate perception that graduate students don’t need assistance with using the Library, but this is far from the case. Not only are many students returning to school after many years away (some before research was mostly conducted online as it is now), but a basic level of library research skills in graduate students is assumed and expected. Graduate students who feel deficient in this area generally must take the initiative to self-educate. The more insidious problem is not recognizing the need for strengthening research skills and therefore not being aware of resources the Library offers.

The Office of Graduate Studies and the Library continually try to find ways to navigate the perennial task of effectively communicating with and attracting students to programs and to take advantage of resources. In addition to the workshops mentioned above and representation at Fall and Spring orientations, as the Graduate Studies Librarian, I have participated for the past two years in the Professional Development Fair organized by the Masters Student Research Group, and this Spring, I am piloting a “walk-in research clinic” for graduate students, offered at six strategic points throughout the semester. Thus far, the clinics have been visited by a few students who have appreciated the one-on-one attention, and we hope more will attend as time goes on. The Library offers an online Research Guide devoted to Graduate Students. This is a targeted way for graduate students to utilize the library’s wealth of online resources. Since these students are often unable to visit the Library in person, and because so much of today’s academic source material is available electronically, the Library can serve as the ideal partner in their graduate education. I am always happy to meet individually with students seeking help with their research, to visit classes, and to serve as an embedded librarian. Any graduate students or faculty should feel free to contact me with questions or ideas at

Kathleen Collins

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Group study roomAs team-based learning becomes more prevalent in undergraduate education, students need space to work on group projects. The Lloyd Sealy Library still provides quiet space for individual work, but our four group study rooms have been in more and more demand. Two of these group study rooms received a substantial upgrade last semester, thanks to the Student Technology Fee Committee (see “New Library collaborative work spaces” by Bonnie Nelson in the Fall 2015 newsletter). With an abundance of outlets, a high-definition display, and HDMI connections, these group study rooms instantly became immensely popular among John Jay students. These well-lit rooms, each featuring a large table and six seats, are used daily by groups preparing presentations, working on projects, and doing homework in a social environment.

Due to their popularity, the library implemented an ID card policy and two-hour time limit for groups using these rooms, but with a constant stream of students asking to use the rooms, managing their use became untenable for librarians at the reference desk. On an hourly basis, librarians had to check IDs, keep track of room occupation, hand out HDMI adapters, and lock and unlock the room. Moreover, students were becoming frustrated that they couldn’t anticipate when the group study rooms would be available. A solution was needed.

Enter LibCal, a Springshare product that manages room booking. After settling on policies and testing the calendar among librarians, we launched group study room reservations in February 2016. At the dedicated scheduling kiosk outside the rooms or anytime on our website, students can see when the rooms are occupied and make reservations up to two days in advance. (See for yourself!)

Calendar full of reservations

A typically busy reservation calendar from March

Reservations are synced with class periods on weekdays. Based on multiple conversations with students, the reservation system is easy for students to use — it’s similar to placing online reservations at a restaurant. The system auto-sends an email to the student who made the reservation, and librarians can see all reservations on a calendar. Students simply check in at the reference desk with their name so the librarian can unlock the room. Often, they will simply enter the room when the previous group exits — a seamless changing of the guards. If students need an HDMI adapter to their laptop or mobile device to the display screen, they can check one out at the reference desk.

Over the course of a few months, we have encountered very few problems. The new reservation system has made using and managing group study rooms much easier.

Reservations statistics:

  • February 2016: 79 reservations made by 30 patrons
  • March 2016: 179 reservations made by 89 patrons
  • April 2016: 153 reservations made by 77 patrons (spring break Apr. 22–30)

(Many thanks to Geng Lin, our Systems Manager, for helping us to implement the system and acquire HDMI adapters!)

Robin Davis

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Below is a short representation of the print books acquired in the last three months by the Library. Access information is available in both the Library catalog CUNY+ and the new discovery tool OneSearch.

Book covers

Bammer, A. & Boetcher Joeres, R. (Eds.) (2015). The futures of scholarly writing: critical interventions. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Stacks P302.18 .F88 2015

Blum, S. D. (2016). “I love learning; I hate school”: an anthropology of college. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.  Stacks LB1065 .B56 2016

Deer S. (2015). The beginning and end of rape: confronting sexual violence in native America. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.  Stacks KIE3560 .D44 2015

Dornschneider, S. (2016). Whether to kill: the cognitive maps of violent and nonviolent individuals. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.  Stacks HN786.Z9 V536 2016

Desmond, M. (2016). Evicted: poverty and profit in the American city. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.  Stacks HD7287.96.U6 D47 2016

Jacobs, P. (2012). Force-feeding of prisoners and detainees on hunger strike: right to self-determination versus right to intervention.  Stacks K5519 .J33 2012

Konnikova, M. (2013). Mastermind: how to think like Sherlock Holmes. New York, NY: Penguin Books.  Stacks BC108 .K56 2013

Latzer, B. (2016). The rise and fall of the violent crime in America. New York, NY: Encounter Books.  Stacks and Reserve HV6789 .L38 2016

Book covers

Lempert, L. (2016). Women doing life: gender, punishment, and the struggle for identity. New York, NY: New York University Press.  Stacks HV9471 .L436 2016

Martin, J. (2015). The provost’s handbook: the role of the chief academic officer. Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University.  Stacks LB2341 .M295 2015

Mernissi, F. (2011). Beyond the veil: male-female dynamics in Muslim society. London: Saqi.  Stacks HQ1170 .M46 2011

Morello, G. (2015). The Catholic church and Argentina’s Dirty War. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.  Stacks BX1462.3 .M67 2015

Roberts, R. (2016). Blood brothers: the fatal friendship of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. New York, NY: Basic Books.  Stacks GV1132.A44. R64 2016

Schiemann, J. W. (2016). Does torture work? New York, NY: Oxford University Press.  Stacks HV8593 .S345 2016

Sion, B. (Ed.). (2014). Death tourism: disaster sites as recreational landscape. New York, NY: Seagull Books. Stacks G156.5.D37 D43 2014

Taylor, R. B. (2015). Community criminology: fundamentals of spatial and temporal scaling, ecological indicators, and selective bias. New York, NY: New York University Press.  Stacks HV6025 .T39 2015

Wainwright, T. (2016). Narconomics: how to run a drug cartel. New York, NY: Public Affairs. Stacks HV5801.W325 2016

Maria Kiriakova

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Book covers

De Leon, J. (2015). The land of open graves: living and dying on the migrant trail. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Eterno, J. (2015) The New York City Police Department: the impact of its policies and practices. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.

Ingle, J. B. (2015). Slouching toward tyranny: mass incarceration, death sentences and racism. New York, NY: Algora Publishing.

Hall, B. (2015). Inside ISIS: the brutal rise of a terrorist army. New York, NY: Center Street.

Hallaq, Wael B. (2013). The impossible state: Islam, politics, and modernity’s moral predicament. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Langton, J. (2012). Gangland: the rise of the Mexican drug cartels from El Paso to Vancouver. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley.

Book covers

Malave, I. (2014). Latino Stats: American Hispanics by the numbers. New York, NY: The New Press.

McCarthy, L. A. (2015). Trafficking justice: how Russian police enforce new laws, from crime to courtroom. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Morris-Reich, A. (2016). Race and photography: racial photography as scientific evidence, 1876-1980. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.

Wayland, B. A. (2015). Emergency preparedness for business professionals: how to mitigate and respond to attacks against your organization. Oxford, UK: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Ziegler, M. (2015). After Roe: the lost history of the abortion debate. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Zoukis, C. (2014). College for convicts: the case for higher education in American prisons. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.

Maria Kiriakova

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Video resources — physical DVDs, VHS tapes (yes, we still have them) and streaming media databases — are very much utilized by the faculty teaching courses on an array of different subjects. DVDs and VHS tapes can be found in the library online catalog CUNY+, films in the streaming media collections can be searched more effectively through the new discovery tool OneSearch.

From time to time, we highlight a certain database to orient the users about its content and best features. This time we will profile Films on Demand from Infobase Learning.

Video clips from Films on Demand

Several films available through Films on Demand

Films On Demand are not cinema movies. It is a collection of 22,403 videos that include documentaries, news footage, lectures, and educational videos. The producers include BBC, NOVA Frontline, Ken Burns, California Newsreel, PBS, Reuters and dozens more of well-known domestic and international companies. This database is perfect for undergraduate course assignments when students have to get a brief introduction to a topic; in addition, these short films can be used to jumpstart a discussion in class. There are 29 subject areas that are divided into subcategories. The subject of Criminal Justice & Law (962 films total), for example, has four subcategories: Criminal Investigation, Criminal Justice System, Criminology, and Legal Studies.

The first screen of results when you browse by subject will give the user the option to sort the films either by the date of production or popularity. Then, almost each film can be viewed either as a whole or in segments. Each segment has a title that has to be selected from a drop-down menu — a nice feature if you know exactly what portion of the film you want to show in class. Similarly to practically all online databases, the options for narrowing down the results are presented in the side bar. The films can be narrowed down, for example, by type (documentary, educational or lecture & interview), by producer, sometimes language, and copyright date ranges.

On the individual film record level, there is bar of tabs for finding related films, sharing (URL for embedding, email, etc.), citation tools (APA, MLA, Chicago Style, and exporting into EasyBib), and creation of custom segments. On the right hand side portion of the screen, there is a window for the displaying the transcript for the whole film or for individual segments.

Don’t forget to create an individual account to make and save a list of your favorite titles.

Based on the statistics that the Library collected in 2016, the most popular films are “Issues and controversies in America,” “Amendment 13,” and “Amendment 14,” with more than a thousand views combined. There are 80 active users (those who have individual accounts), six of which joined in 2016. These individual users have created 105 playlists.

Give Films on Demand a try and let us know what you and your students think of this database.

Maria Kiriakova

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Now available from the Library: Pivot.

Pivot is a comprehensive source of global funding opportunities.

NOTE: Users must set up individual accounts using their CUNY email.

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A bridge from reference materials to higher academic works

Students typically learn during a library workshop that an encyclopedia is often the best place to begin research. Encyclopedias provide a broad overview of a topic and, as tertiary sources, can also direct students to valuable secondary and primary sources. Students might start with a general encyclopedia, but they are more likely to discover a specialized one as the publication of specialized encyclopedias has accelerated making it more likely than not that there is an encyclopedia entry on their topic. Reference and instruction librarians typically teach students how to access and use Gale Virtual Reference Library, the biggest and most up-to-date encyclopedia database the library offers.

Recognizing their value, the Library continues to look for these “getting started” types of resources. We recently began subscribing to the full collection of the book series Very Short Introductions — which includes over 460 titles — published by Oxford University Press. As the name implies, these books, which are written by experts for a wide audience, provide concise introductions to a variety of topics including disciplines, issues, themes, biographies and literature.

Screnshot of the Very Short Introductions page

Unlike encyclopedias that provide entries on topics within their thematic scope, Very Short Introductions are more like mini-textbooks which, because of their size, can easily be read cover to cover. Professors frequently assign the entire “short” to provide the content students need to have meaningful discussions about a topic. For example, if you are teaching a class on a conflict in the Middle East but don’t have the confidence your students have the necessary background knowledge, consider assigning The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Very Short Introduction, Geopolitics: A Very Short Introduction, or Peace: A Very Short Introduction. If you need help explaining to your students why we read Plato, consider assigning Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction. If you would like your students to understand why Algebra is a pillar of mathematics, consider assigning Algebra: A Very Short Introduction.

To find a “short” that is right for you, go to the library’s homepage and click on the link to search for databases by title. Select “V” and once you click through to the Very Short Introductions interface you have three search options: browse titles by subject, browse all titles (of course the least efficient option unless you are really interested in learning about the breadth of topics that are covered) or use the search box to do a keyword search.

A recommended approach is to start by browsing by subject and then conduct a keyword search since the subject classifications may not match your expectations or have a narrow enough focus. For example, the only title under criminal justice as a subject is Criminal Justice: A Very Short Introduction. However, if you do a keyword search of “criminal justice” you will discover 219 chapters in a variety of titles. If you are interested in finding Forensic Science: A Very Short Introduction, you would have had to search under the subject “policing”. However, if you do a keyword search of “forensic science,” you would find 18 chapters in a variety of titles that address the topic.

Once you select a “short,” a variety of options appear including a table of contents, the ability to access the book by chapter and quick reference tools providing instant access to key concepts or people. Take notice that the hyperlinks in the search results will bring you to the place in the text your search terms appear. Also, like most library databases, the interface contains integrated tools that allow you to easily share, print and email selected content.

Keep in mind that these are ebooks that allow 3 users to simultaneously access them through an internet connection. If you prefer print, you can print a chapter of an ebook at a time, or check the library catalog because we also have a number of titles in print. As stated by one professor, “When I want to learn more about a topic, I start by looking for a Very Short Introduction”. We hope you consider doing the same.

Maureen Richards

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