Library News Blog

Citation mining (aka “snowballing” and “citation pearl growing”) is one way of conducting a systematic literature search. Traditionally, researchers had to refer to the list of cited references to identify earlier sources of relevance; then, they needed to follow up with separate searches to locate each source of interest to them. As a result, the process of building a comprehensive literature review was a rather complex and time-consuming task undertaken only by seasoned researchers who had the skills and perseverance to engage in it.

New database tools now make citation mining easy and efficient. In addition, they often supplement the option of tracing cited references with the option to identify more recent sources that cite the original article/book itself. As a result, it is possible to quickly identify older and newer scholarship on a given subject.

Experienced and new researchers alike can now take advantage of these tools. Indeed, I have seen both faculty and first-year students elated by what these tools help them accomplish. For example, students, who are always on the hunt for more sources, can effectively trace additional relevant sources using these tools. Faculty appreciate these tools for the same reason. But as teachers, the faculty I've worked with have used these tools to show students that research is a conversation among experts who build on past knowledge even as their own work expands what we already know.

Below are examples of citation mining tools from some of the most commonly used library databases: OneSearch, GoogleScholar, and the EBSCO platform.

-- Marta Bladek

Screenshot of citation mining tools in Google Scholar

Screenshot of citation mining tools in the EBSCO platform

Screenshot of citation mining tools in OneSearch.

Film cover images for "In Cold Blood", "The Burning Bed", "La Noire De", and "Paris is Burning".

Most of our films and documentaries are in giant aggregations bundled together by vendors. The vendors choose the content for us; a mix of documentaries, made-for-education content, and feature films no longer being distributed through more profitable outlets. These bundles include Proquest’s AVON and Infobase Films On Demand. To quickly meet demand for additional titles we use Swank and Kanopy. Both of these services enable us to acquire titles on an a la carte basis, via 12 month streaming rental licenses. Once we have purchased a license, any member of the John Jay community can watch the films. All of the films below were chosen by an instructor with a particular pedagogical aim, and they also make pretty good entertainment viewing. Here are some of the films faculty have chosen to introduce to their students that you might enjoy watching too. Get to Swank and Kanopy from our video collections list at

Horror: The Shining (1980) Swank license until August 2023; Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) Swank license until
August 2023; In Cold Blood (1967) Swank license until January 2023.

Court room dramas: Denial (2016) Kanopy license until September 2023; The Burning Bed (1984) Swank license until September 2023; Belly of the Beast (2020) Kanopy license until March 2023.

Foreign Art House: Black Girl / La Noire de… (1966) Kanopy license until August 2023; La Jetee (1963) Kanopy license until September 2023; Tabu (2012) Kanopy license until August 2023; Timbuktu (2014) Kanopy license until June 2023.

Set in New York City: Do the Right Thing (1989) Swank license until August 2023; Los Sures: A Puerto Rican
Barrio in Brooklyn
(1984) Kanopy license until October 2023; My Brooklyn (2012) Kanopy license until April
2023; Paris is Burning (1990) Kanopy license until September 2023; Saturday Night Fever (1977) Swank
license until September 2023.

Our top ten most watched titles so far this semester, on Swank: (defined as July through end October)
The Birds (1963); Fargo (1996); Rosemary's Baby (1968); BlacKkKlansman (2018); Saturday Night Fever (1977); The Silence of the Lambs (1991); Frankenstein (1931); Chi-Raq (2015); Sicko (2007); Glory (1989).

Most watched so far this semester on our Kanopy platform: M (1931); Sueño en otro idioma / I Dream in Another Language (2017); I Am Not Your Negro (2016); La Jetée (1963); Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising's Image of Women (2010); Race - The Power of an Illusion (2003); The Mask You Live In (2015); My Brooklyn (2012); People Like Us: Social class in America (1999); The Bro Code: How Contemporary Culture Creates Sexist Men (2011).

For more films, please see
To request a film, please email

-- Ellen Sexton

Photograph of the Niederhoffer Lounge in the Library

Since 2010, the Library has been conducting in-library use surveys every three years. The last one we ran was in November 2019, the last fall semester before the COVID-19 pandemic transformed our teaching and learning lives. To capture and record formally the changes in how students use the Library and its resources in the aftermath of the pandemic, we are conducting the survey again this November.

The in-library use survey targets patrons already in the physical space in the Library. Consequently, we get to learn how and why students come to the Library and how library spaces, services, and resources serve their needs. Between 2010 and 2019, there was some strong and consistent trends. Throughout the years students identified the Library as an important place for individual study and, tellingly, they reported visiting the Library at least twice a week.

As the in-library use survey provides us with insights into how the Library matters in students’ educational and campus experience, we also take note of the ways in which the Library falls short of meeting the community’s expectations. For example, based on the feedback from previous surveys, the Library built additional study rooms, expanded a computer lab, and expanded the number of outlets throughout the space.

Now that we are getting ready to administer the survey again, we are looking forward to learning about what has changed and what has remained the same as far as students’ use of the Library goes. Although in our daily work, we do note some emergent trends in library use (e.g., students use more personal devices than they did in 2019 and the reasons to come to the Library now include taking Zoom classes and online exams), the survey will allow us to understand the extent of the change better. As we have done in the past, we also plan on using the survey’s results as a data-backed argument for requesting specific resources that we currently do not provide. Closing the
assessment loop in this way will allow the Library to better serve students who now use the Library and its resources in a transformed educational context. We plan to report on the results of the 2022 survey in the spring 2023 issue of Classified Information, the library newsletter.

-- Marta Bladek

Book cover images for The Barbizon and The Future of Us All.

The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free by Paulina Bren (Simon & Schuster, 2022).
This history of a famous residential hotel and some of the famous – Molly Brown, Sylvia Plath, Grace Kelly, Joan Didion – and not so famous women who lived there, is also the history of women, gender and class (and New York real estate, architecture, publishing and fashion and design trends) in the 20th century, from the hotel’s opening in 1927, to the early 21st century. Some of the women lived there for a short but galvanizing month, often as part of the coveted Mademoiselle magazine’s guest editor program, and others for decades while the building was bought and sold and revamped around them. What remained constant were the conflicting messages delivered to women, a tension heightened by the fact that most of the women who found themselves at the hotel were driven by professional ambition. As much as women were restricted in work, manners, dress, body size, and countless other confinements, Bren argues that the Barbizon uniquely allowed women to take a bold step toward independence and achieving their dreams.
-- Kathleen Collins

The Future of Us All: Race and Neighborhoods Politics in New York City by Roger Sanjek (Cornell University Press, 1998).
In his aptly titled book, Roger Sanjek, an anthropologist at Queens College, documented the dramatic demographic transformation of Queens from the 1970s into the 1990s, focusing on the neighborhoods of Elmhurst and Corona. In 1960, the area was 98 percent white. In the following decade the percentage dropped by a third, and in 1980, it was only 34 percent white. In 1990, the white population of Elmhurst-Corona stood at only 18 percent, with Asians numbering 26 percent, Hispanics 45 percent, and African-Americans 11 percent. Sanjek reveals how the residents experienced and coped with, made peace with and resisted rapid demographic change. Surprisingly, perhaps, he found “little overt conflict.”
-- Jeffrey Kroessler


Effective Fall 2022, Marta Bladek was promoted to the Professor rank and Maria Kiriakova to the Associate
Professor rank.

Patrick J. Raftery Jr. presented “From No to Yes: Tales from an Academic Librarian with Special Collections in
Criminal Justice” at the Long Island Library Resources Council's (LILRC) 27th Annual Archives Conference on
October 17, 2022.

Screenshot of a chart from Roper iPoll

The library now subscribes to Roper iPoll, the oldest and largest database of public opinion information in the world. It includes data from questions and answers asked by nearly every major organization that has conducted polls in the United States since 1935. You can access it here or through the list of databases on the library’s website.

Roper iPoll is updated regularly. It currently includes over 25,000 studies and a database of over 850,000 questions and answers. Although most questions address U.S. issues at the national political level or on a broad range of social topics -- including abortion, the economy, elections, guns, immigration, race relations, and terrorism -- in the last 5 years, many studies have been added that ask questions at the state level and there is some data from other countries.

To get started exploring Roper iPoll begin with a keyword search. Your results will include all polling questions, responses, and titles and abstracts of studies that contain your keyword. If you enter the keyword crime, you will find 8,235 questions/responses that contain that keyword, 4,355 datasets and 7 trend reports that are available when the same question is answered over time.

Alternatively, conduct a more focused search by starting off by using the advanced search screen which can be found by clicking on “additional search filters”. This will allow you to search by research organization, over 100 broad topic areas, country, state, or sample type. Try searching “crime” as a topic and notice how your results differ from a keyword search.

Remember to use the filters to the left of your search results too for more focused results. Use the crosstabs filter to learn the views of different demographic groups--classified by age, education, ethnicity, gender, race, or party affiliation view--on an issue. Select a question on the results screen to view the question details, including the question, survey organization, sampling information, geographic information, interview method, along with a graph detailing responses.

This database contains a massive amount of information. For the advanced researcher, extensive user support is available online, including brief tutorials and help sheets, along with lengthier webinars and how-to guides. If you are looking for ways to incorporate public opinion research in your courses, take a look at The Roper Center’s suggested classroom materials. If your research interests include knowing what different people think about an issue, chances are that Roper iPoll will provide some answers.

-- Maureen Richards

Photo of Michelle at her retirement garthering

This October, Michelle Dutton, the library’s most experienced College Administrative Assistant, retired after 40 years of working behind the scenes in the Library’s Technical Services department. Michelle started in 1982 when the Lloyd Sealy library was located on the ground floor of North Hall. Throughout these four decades of her life, Michelle raised two daughters who both became college educated and accomplished adults, completed her own baccalaureate degree in behavioral sciences at John Jay College, worked under four Chief Librarians (Eileen Rowland, Marilyn Lutzker, Larry Sullivan and Jeffrey Kroessler) mastered the use of three library automated systems (Notis, Aleph, Alma), was a colleague to two long standing and now retired Technical Services librarians, Marlene Kandel and Dolores Grande, and took excellent care of all the plants in the library (most of them survived the pandemic lockdown!). Michelle enjoyed challenges that constant automation and computerization brings to library functions and became an excellent copy cataloger and all print materials processor. She educated many work study students and college assistants in all aspects of Technical Services jobs. Michelle was a real book detective and was always called for help to locate a missing item that nobody else was able to find. She had the greatest judgement of the materials needing repair or replacement. In her own words: she likes the intellectual engagement of her job and enjoyed working with her colleagues; she became life long friends with many of them and continues to socialize with them even after retirement. Michelle is a humble person and didn’t mind working in the background with physical materials rather than facing the public. She never envisioned her job to come to an end but is thankful for no longer needing to commute and being able to devote more time to her hobbies, home improvement and gardening, and be actively present in the lives of her grandchildren.

I miss Michelle’s presence in Technical Services, her calm demeanor and fast actions when a new project needed to be accomplished. We lost institutional knowledge with Michelle’s retirement but I am glad she has good memories of the library, the College and us, her friends and colleagues.
-- Maria Kiriakova

I've known and worked with Michelle for over 21 wonderful years. It was a pleasure working and knowing someone so kind and caring while also being so low key and quietly calm. Not only was her work ethic impeccable, but her family oriented demeanor is hard to question. I'm blessed to know her and will totally miss working with her. I wish only the best for her with her retirement.
-- Avis Leary

Michelle, Congratulations on a very well deserved retirement. Wishing you all the best!
--Mark Zubarev

Thank you Michelle for being an open ear and a friend. The library will never be the same and we will miss you very much. Best Wishes!
-- Omar Rivera

I could count on Michelle 100%, both to expertly catalog and manage the books put on reserve by faculty and, in her customary few words, to express grace, humor and warmth in every interaction. We will all miss her brightening our days. I wish her many brighter days ahead.
-– Kathleen Collins

I am going to miss Michelle’s calm presence and deep knowledge of Technical Services. She was always willing to help with questions about damaged books and other issues with our collections. I wish Michelle all the best!
-– Karen Okamoto

Dear Michelle, thanks for the short notice on your retirement! However, I thank you for being you. A beautiful person to work with and a loyal friend. Michelle has devoted her 40 years to the John Jay college community and has never complained. My hat goes off to her; she's one in a million. Don't be surprised if a knock on your door turns out to be me! Michelle, take advantage of being free. You are greatly missed in the library!
-- Debbie Spivey

Dear Michelle, All of your sacrifices in life have successfully paid off! Enjoy the benefits of having the time to do
anything and everything you have always desired to do. I hope you enjoy your future with a lot of time to share with your family and friends. Congratulations and Happy Retirement!
-- Marilyn Rivera

Congratulations to Michelle on her retirement after four decades of service. Michelle’s contribution to the Lloyd Sealy Library services is greatly appreciated by faculty and staff from the Technical Services, as well as the entire Library Department. Best wishes to you, Michelle, for a happy future in retirement. We will miss you always.
-- Zuwang Shen

Congratulations on your retirement Michelle! It has been a great pleasure to work with you, especially during the
pandemic and remote work days. As much as you'll be missed here, I hope you enjoy your retirement and hope
you'll come by to visit or attend the library holiday parties. All the best!!
-- Patrick J Raftery Jr.

Photo of the new Speical Collections reading room

After years of wrangling and working around numerous logistical complications and a global pandemic, the new Special Collections Reading Room is finally open to researchers.

It would be easy to miss on a hurried walk through the atrium in Haaren Hall, but if you pause to look on the south side, you will see a door and window that were covered for years. In the window are displayed several books published by authors who used the library’s collections in their research, and, if you get close and peer in, you will see a replica of an electric chair.

Since its opening in June, we have welcomed over a dozen researchers, consulting more than ten manuscript collections and several college archive collections. Researchers are coming from as near as the CUNY Graduate Center and Brooklyn, and as far as Vanderbilt University in Nashville and one remote researcher from Los Angeles. They are doctoral students, documentary filmmakers, authors, journalists, and independent researchers. They are investigating organized crime, the legal history of breastfeeding in American prisons, police unions, Sing Sing Prison history, Frank Serpico’s testimony before the Knapp Commission to Investigate Alleged Police Corruption, courtroom drawings from the John Gotti trial, the Bureau of Special Services (BOSSI)’s surveillance of the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s, school-police interactions in the 1930s, policing and Haitian immigrants in New York City and William H. McMasters’s unpublished manuscript on Charles Ponzi (part of the voluminous Fraud and Swindles collection).They are consulting manuscript collections including those of former Police Commissioners James Bolan and Benjamin Ward; Herman and Julia Schwendinger, founders of the sub-discipline known as Critical Criminology; New York Women in Criminal Justice; NYPD detective Eugene Canevari; Federal judge, lawyer, law professor and human rights advocate Marvin Frankel; courtroom artist Richard Tomlinson; and the library’s namesake, the first black precinct sergeant in the NYPD, and a former professor at John Jay College, Lloyd George Sealy.

Items from the college archives, including college bulletins, Middle States reports and newspaper clippings mentioning John Jay College (the labor-intensive physical forerunner of John Jay in the Media that is now delivered regularly via email), have proven useful for a researcher studying John Jay College history during the 1970s and a woman looking for articles in the Lex Review (the name of the student newspaper in the 1970s and 1980s) written by her uncle when he was a student here.

In addition to these researchers making appointments and spending time in the new reading room, we continue to see a steady stream of people taking advantage of the vast Criminal Trial Transcripts of New York County 1883 - 1927 collection. While a significant number of these have been digitized (part of our growing digital collections), many are still only accessible via microfilm which visitors can view on the microform reader in the library’s reference area during any open hours without an appointment (though a research pass is required for non-CUNY visitors).

Special Collections Librarian Professor Ellen Belcher, along with her deep knowledge and dedicated stewardship of the collections, is on sabbatical for the academic year 2022-23. While she enjoys her well-deserved break from her usual duties, I am happy to hold the keys (and appointment calendar) to the new reading room so that researchers can access the rich collections here. Anyone interested in making an appointment to view items from the collection should send a request to

-Kathleen Collins

Image of the new library flower promotional poster

Have you seen our colorful new library poster around campus? If you spot the floral design, take special notice of the flower pistil, where you’ll find a library QR code. Simply scan the code and be directed to the library’s website. Once scanned, you can get help, explore library guides, and browse the collection.
-- Kate Cauley

Screenshot of the new library website's homepage

Big changes are coming the library’s way in 2023, as we prepare to launch our new website! Our current website is built with the content management system (CMS) Drupal 7, which is nearing its end of life. Due to this future obsolescence, the library is migrating its web content to Drupal 9 and then to Drupal 10 soon after. This project has been an enormous undertaking but also an important one that will provide extended security support and aesthetic updates to our website.

With the launch of the new website, the overall look and feel of will undergo some changes, including some navigational and interface updates. For example, the website’s information architecture has been audited and rearranged. This update is illustrated in our new main menu. Users can navigate to our pages through the main navigation bar’s new categories: “About,” “Visit & Study,” “Find & Borrow,” “Research Support,” “Faculty Services,” and “Help.” Additionally, the homepage has undergone some design updates, including a new carousel slideshow, graphic icons, and background images.

Before the January launch, a preview link to the new website will appear on The Lloyd Sealy Library prioritizes our users and their need to access library resources as seamlessly as possible. Please check out the changes, and email any comments or suggestions to our Web and Emerging Technologies Librarian, Kate Cauley, at

-- Kate Cauley