Library News Blog

By Karen Okamoto

Screenshot of the homepage for the Voting & Collections database


As we approach the 2020 presidential election, we thought it would be timely to highlight the Voting and Elections Collection from CQ Press. This collection brings together data, analyses, and reference articles on American voters, political parties as well as past and recent races for Congress, the presidency and governorships. The collection draws upon several sources including census data, the Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 and a range of CQ/Sage publications such as the series America Votes and CQ’s Politics in America. The election data coverage begins as early as 1789 (for presidential elections) and includes data as recent as the 2018 midterm elections. The collection can help researchers answer and explore questions such as: Which candidates and Congressional seats have changed parties? How successful has a particular party been in my county over time? and Which third party candidates, such as members of the Green Party, have been elected?


The collection can be searched through different access points. You can enter keywords into the basic search bar on the homepage. To add more precision to your search select the Advanced Search option which provides additional filters. Overall, the collection is divided into three main sections. The browse

topics section includes election data and encyclopedia articles on issues such as voter rights, campaign finance and profiles of political parties. A second search tab is devoted to election results and includes filters for office, election type, region and year. The third search tab allows researchers to compare data, find candidates, search party affiliation changes, view landslide and close races, and find third party candidates. The collection also provides numerous maps for visualizing election results from different time periods (see image of the 2016 Presidential Popular Vote map).


Map of the United States showing the 2016 Presidential popular vote

The Voting and Elections Collection from CQ Press provides maps of election results dating from 1824-2016.

You can access the Voting and Elections Collection from our list of Political Science databases at CQ also provides a short video introducing the Collection and its search features at


More from the Fall 2019 newsletter


By Jeffrey Kroessler

A face and the words big brother is watching you

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” I somehow thought this was a Buddhist tenet. How remarkable that a little research can set you straight.

That assumes, of course, that one can trust what one finds, that the research trek has lit upon a reliable source. One is always aware that information may be inaccurate. I know, because one of the entries I rewrote for the second edition of The Encyclopedia of New York City contains a whopper. But that was unintentional. It was only because I never saw the final version before the volume went to the printer.  But what if the source had intentionally promulgated false information? What if the motives of the writer were impure?

This is where I enter George Orwell’s dystopian world of 1984. I have read this book many times. The first time was when I was twelve; I’d heard it was a dirty book. I never did find the dirty parts, unless one recognizes that the entire novel is dirty. I guess that is why it has been banned in various places since it was published. Like Heraclitus stepping into the river, I found a different book each time I entered it – as a middle school student, a graduate student studying

Soviet history, an English teacher, and as a librarian. It is about totalitarianism; the fate of the individual; geopolitics; surveillance. 

As a librarian, I see 1984 as a book about information. Winston Smith toils in the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to manufacture lies. He rewrites the past so it conforms always to truths accepted in the present, and that troubled him, even as he diligently performed his tasks. “If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened,” he mused, “that, surely was more terrifying than mere torture and death?” How lonely to understand that if all records told the same tale, and if everyone else accepted that story without question, “then the lie passed into history and became truth.” That was the real horror. Once Winston saw a scrap of evidence proving that the party’s official narrative was untrue. “It exists,” he exclaims when his interrogator, O’Brien, briefly shows it to him. “No,” said O’Brien as he tossed it into the memory hole. “It does not exist. It never existed.”    

In our current climate we call this “fake news.” I struggle over the veracity of what I find online. Some twenty-somethings do nothing of the sort. They assume that nothing they find there is to be trusted. In this they are like Winston’s young lover, Julia, who said matter-of-factly that she thought the missiles falling on London from time to time were fired by their own government.

During Banned Books Week we installed a small exhibit in our library to mark the 70th anniversary of its publication, complete with a “Big Brother is Watching You” poster. Librarians are in the business of vetting information sources and pointing our patrons to reliable sources. This function is more crucial than it has ever been before, because the truth has never been more slippery. In China today, the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989 never happened.


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By Marta Bladek

During my sabbatical last year, I relied heavily on remote access to the Library’s resources to do my research. Being able to find and work with scholarly resources from home was a great convenience. There were a few research strategies that were essential to making my work efficient and organized. Working with Google Scholar was one of them. I am sharing a couple of quick tips in the hope that other faculty may find them useful as well.

Customizing Google Scholar to get full-text articles

Although Google Scholar has its shortcomings and is not a comprehensive search engine for scholarly information, it offers an easy and familiar way to access full-text articles available through the Library. One way to accomplish that is to get to Google Scholar directly from the Library home page [Figure 1]. Google Scholar is listed on the drop-down menu of our most popular databases. When accessed and searched this way, Google Scholar displays results with a note indicating full-text availability through the Library.

Customizing your own Google Scholar settings is another way to keep track of which results are quickly viewable because the Library subscribes to them. To activate this off-campus feature you have to follow a few simple steps.

On the Google Scholar search page:

  • Click on the menu button and then click Settings.
  • Select Library links and search for John Jay College.
  • Check off all three available options in the search results, then click Save. [Figure 2]
  • When the full text of an article is available through a Library subscription, a Full View or Find JJ Fulltext link on the right. [Figure 3]



Clicking on Full View or Find JJ Fulltext will take you to the full-text version of the article.

Another useful feature in Google Scholar settings is the Button browser plugin (it is available as an add-in in all the popular browsers). You can install the Scholar Button to look up scholarly articles when you search online without having to search Google Scholar itself. [Figure 4] Not only will you get the scholarly resources highlighted in your search results, but you will also be able to get ready citations (in APA or another style).

These quick customizations add more flexibility and efficiency to the search process, but it is worth remembering that, as tempting as it may be, don’t stick with Google Scholar alone. It is merely one of the resources to explore while researching. The Library offers many additional databases and indexes. When combined, these resources offer a much more comprehensive view of the scholarly landscape than relying on any one of them alone can.

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By Maria Kiriakova

This is a tough question that does not produce an easy answer. To get a list of the databases that are included in (or excluded from) the OneSearch index, check this helpful link:

This list is not set in stone; it has a constantly metamorphosing structure – sometimes databases are added, and some disappear, merge with others, or change their name. One has to run a search first to be able to see what collections the results are actually derived from.

Let’s explore the topic of the relationship between happiness and chocolate consumption. You would need to combine the keywords chocolate AND happiness (yes, you have to capitalize the operator AND to get better results).


When you get to the results screen (34,575!) you have to pause and analyze the screen before jumping to select the readings. The right-hand side panel of the screen will provide you with navigation guidance and here (scroll down a bit to see all the options) you will see the section Source/Collection that explains what databases OneSearch has gone to for this particular search request.

In our case this will look like this: 









The first five databases with the biggest number of the results will be displayed on the initial screen, so to view all the collections to understand where the results are coming from click on Show More. In the end you will see that 35,000 results for the search came from 22 sources/collections. Source/Collection is a hierarchy of library collections and sub-collections.

You can view the results from individual collections (the titles are hyperlinked) or you can exclude collections by mousing over the title (note the red crossed out checkmark):


OneSearch is a fascinating discovery tool that can be manipulated by researchers in a variety of ways. Spend some time looking carefully at the screen to fine tune your options.


More from the Fall 2019 newsletter 


By Marta Bladek

Excerpted with permission from “Latino Students and Academic Libraries: a Primer for Action” in The Journal of Academic Librarianship (2019, Vol. 45.1: 50-57).


A growing body of research presents evidence of the various ways in which academic libraries support students’ learning, generally captured through measures such as course grades, cumulative grade point average, term retention, and degree attainment. In her review of studies documenting libraries’ unique contribution to students’ academic success throughout their college careers, Oliveira (2017) identifies three key areas of impact: library instruction, library space and the use of library materials.


The following review briefly highlights positive and statistically significant correlations between student academic achievement and their use of libraries. Importantly, a number of researchers have documented these relationships while controlling for students’ demographic characteristics, including gender, socioeconomic, first generation and Pell Grant recipient status, high school GPA, and concurrent college experiences (LeMaistre, Shi, & Thanki 2018; O’Kelly 2015; Soria, K. M., Fransen, J., & Nackerud, S. 2013).


One of the largest studies focusing on academic libraries is the Library Impact Data Project conducted at the University of Huddersfield in the UK and its seven partner institutions (Stone, Pattern & Ramsden 2011; Stone 2015). Preliminary and subsequent analyses have shown that library use, measured by three distinct indicators (the use of online resources, print book borrowing and visits to the library) bears a relationship to how well students do in college. While no definitive relationship was determined between the number of a student’s visits to the library and their academic standing, the use of electronic resources and borrowing of materials have been shown to relate positively to their GPA, term retention and degree completion (Stone, Pattern & Ramsden 2011; Stone 2015). At the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Allison (2015) focused her two-year study on electronic resources usage and book borrowing, the two indicators Stone (2015) has found positively linked with GPA and retention. She found that undergraduate and graduate students with higher-than-average GPA rely on these services more often than other students (Allison 2015).


While the Library Impact Data Project (Stone, Pattern & Ramsden 2011; Stone 2015) and Allison’s (2015) showed how the use of online resources and book borrowing relates to GPA and retention, other researchers examined how additional multiple library service points affect academic attainment across the college span. Examining first-year student library data usage across a variety of service points at the University of Minnesota Libraries--Twin Cities, Soria, Fransen, & Nackerud (2013) found that new students who use the library have a higher first-term GPA and higher retention Fall to Spring than non-users. At Indiana University Kokomo, Thorpe, Lukes, Bever, & He (2016) looked at data at multiple services, including reference consultations (in person, by email, chat, and phone), book borrowing, interlibrary loan requests, library instruction and electronic resources. Overall, for all cohorts, they

found that students who use the library more often have higher GPA and are retained at a higher rate than nonusers (Thorpe, Lukes, Bever, & He 2016). A study at a small Catholic university, used library user surveys to investigate the library’s impact on GPA, retention, and degree completion (Stemmer & Mahan 2016). The findings revealed that although students engage with the library differently at different points in their college career, moving between valuing library for its services, resources and physical space, for all years there is a positive association between library use and GPA and retention (Stemmer & Mahan 2016).   


Among studies looking at single variables in library use and their impact on academic attainment, studies exploring the use of online resources and library instruction are most common. Student use of online resources and cumulative GPA are positively correlated for all cohorts (Cherry, Rollins, & Evans 2013). LeMaistre, Shi, & Thanki (2018) found the same pattern when they looked at online resources use and one-semester GPA and retention across all cohorts. Gaha and Pellegrino (2017) found a correlation between attending library instruction and higher cumulative GPA, while O’Kelly (2015) reported four years in a row on a positive statistically significant impact of library instruction on retention. 


It should be pointed out that the above studies do not demonstrate a causal relationship between library use and students outcomes, and, as Allison (2015) puts it, “it is difficult to say whether library use makes good students, or library use is a characteristic of a good student” (37). What emerges from research, however, is that the library, its services and resources, are integral to the institutional mission of offering support services that promote student success across all kinds of institutions, including public, private, small and large colleges and universities.






Allison, D. (2015). Measuring the academic impact of libraries. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 15(1), 29-40.

Cherry, E., Rollins, S. H., & Evans, T. (2013). Proving our worth: The impact of electronic resource usage on academic achievement. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 20(3-4), 386-398.

LeMaistre, T., Shi, Q., & Thanki, S. (2018). Connecting library use to student success. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 18(1), 117-140.

O'Kelly, M. (2015). Correlation between library instruction and student retention, presentation at the Southeastern Library Assessment Conference, Atlanta, GA, November 16–17, 2015, accessed August 29, 2018,

Oliveira, S. M. (2017). The academic library’s role in student retention: a review of the literature. Library Review, 66(4/5), 310-329.

Soria, K. M., Fransen, J., & Nackerud, S. (2013). Library use and undergraduate student outcomes: New evidence for students' retention and academic success. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 13(2), 147-164.

Soria, K. M., Fransen, J., & Nackerud, S. (2017). Beyond books: The extended academic benefits of library use for first-year college students. College & Research Libraries, 78(1).

Stemmer, J. K., & Mahan, D. M. (2016). Investigating the relationship of library usage to student outcomes. College & Research Libraries, 77(3), 359–375. Stone, G. (2015).

Stone, G. (2015). Library impact data: investigating library use and student attainment. In: Library analytics and metrics: Using data to drive decision and services. Facet, London, pp. 51-58.

Stone, G., Pattern, D., & Ramsden, B. (2011). Does library use affect student attainment? A preliminary report on the Library Impact Data Project. Liber Quarterly, 21(1).

Thorpe, A., Lukes, R., Bever, D. J., & He, Y. (2016). The impact of the academic library on student success: Connecting the dots. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 16(2), 373-392.


More from the Fall 2019 newsletter 


by Maureen Richards


As cultures evolve, so does language. Terminology, or what we call things, matters.  And not just in a sociopolitical cultural context.   It matters to libraries and for searchers who rely increasingly, and sometimes exclusively, on keywords to find things.  However, when terminology changes or a topic is referred to by different names, keyword searching can be an ineffective way of finding what you need.

Helping students find materials relating to Latinx, the relatively new gender neutral term for Latino/a’s that is widely used at John Jay, is a case in point.  Should keyword searches also include Latino/a’s, Latin Americans, Hispanic Americans, or some combination of these and other words?  The answer is all of the above, and more (or less), depending on what your objective is and what you learn along the way. 

For example, if you enter the keywords Latinx in the OneSearch box on the library’s home page you will get over 16,000 results—which seems like plenty if you are just looking for something.  Search the keywords Latino OR Latina instead and you get over 1,000,000 results. Search the keywords Latin Americans and you get about 300,000 results.  Change your search terms to Hispanic Americans and you get more than 600,000 results.  Why such big differences and what is missed (and included) when you only search Latinx?

What about searching by using controlled vocabularies or indexes—those classification tools relied upon by librarians and advanced researchers—of carefully structured lists of words and related terms that are both targeted and comprehensive enough to help users identify resources even when terminology changes?  Where do Latinx and other words with Latin American roots fit in?  The answer depends on where you are searching because each database selects its own “controlled vocabulary.”


Library catalog

If you are looking for items in the library catalog or WorldCat (the catalog of libraries from around the world), the answer can be found in the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), the controlled vocabulary of choice for academic libraries.  The LCSH does not currently recognize Latinx as a subject heading.  To find resources in the library catalog relating to Latinx, some relevant subject headings include:

HISPANIC AMERICAN/S (includes Latino Americans, Latinos in the United States, Hispanics in the United States, Spanish-speaking people in the United States, and Spanish-surnamed people in the United States. These headings are also used in their adjectival form followed by a noun, such as HISPANIC AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENTS or HISPANIC AMERICANS ETHNIC IDENTITY).

LATIN AMERICAN/S  (which can be divided geographically to create the subject heading LATIN AMERICANS-UNITED STATES).

COLOMBIAN AMERICANS, MEXICAN AMERICANS, PERUVIAN AMERICANS, etc. (there is a subject heading for every Latin American country, as well as many adjectival subject headings that begin with these geographic subject headings such as MEXICAN AMERICAN FAMILIES).

OneSearch and specialized library databases

OneSearch, the library’s discovery tool for finding a majority of the content in all of the library’s databases and its catalog, aggregates the metadata from these databases including metadata from a “subject” field.  These specialized databases often use some combination of LCSH and discipline specific vocabulary to create their own controlled vocabularies. These controlled vocabularies can be found under various headings including subject terms, index or thesaurus or by clicking on the title of a selected result and looking at the metadata in the subject field.

If you use the advanced search screen to search Latinx by subject in OneSearch you will get 112 results. These results suggest that Latinx is in the beginning stages of being recognized as a subject in some library databases. The results include materials published between 2009 and 2019, providing insight into how recently Latinx first began appearing in the literature. Most (90 of 112, or 80%) of the resources are dissertations, followed by 20 citations to peer reviewed journal articles. Note that none of the sources are from the library catalog since the catalog uses Library of Congress Subject Headings which does not include Latinx

Words matter and so does context. Understanding how language or terminology changes over time helps provide that context.  Searching is a multi-faceted process that involves using keywords and subject headings. Next time try adding a search by controlled vocabulary to your tool kit. Click on the title of a relevant resource to find the controlled vocabulary in the subject metadata or ask a librarian for help.


More from the Fall 2019 newsletter 


Kathleen Collins

Incorporating information literacy into classroom teaching boils down to this: “How do we help students with finding and evaluating information to help answer a question?” To assist in the process, the Library has recently expanded its Teaching Information Literacy guide found on the Library’s web site (Research Guides > Information Literacy > Teaching Information Literacy). The occasion for beefing up the guide was a Program Improvement Grant awarded by the Teaching and Learning Center. Team members for “Guides for Critical Skills Development: Information Literacy” included library faculty Maria Kiriakova, Ellen Sexton, and Kathleen Collins; Ray Patton (then Undergraduate Studies General Education director and now Honors Program director); and psychology faculty member Jill Grose-Fifer. In late May, Prof. Grose-Fifer gathered a group of psychology faculty who met with the team members to discuss information literacy in their teaching. There and now in the library’s guide, Prof. Grose-Fifer generously shared many of her tips and assignments (see Info Lit for Psychology tab). These assignments are highly adaptable to almost any discipline, as are the concepts in her 2019 co-authored book Teaching Psychology: An Evidence-Based Approach. The PowerPoint from that May session, “Incorporating Information Literacy into Your Course,” is also available (see Tools for Teaching tab).

The first part of the guide provides background on the why and what of information literacy. The remainder focuses on the how: assignment design tips, templates and specific scaffolding-based assignment ideas, as well as up-to-date research about information literacy in higher education.
Many of the resources found in the guide are adapted from or shared by other academic librarians such as Columbia College, Vancouver and CUNY’S Guttman Community College. We encourage faculty to incorporate these resources into coursework in conjunction with library video tutorials on such topics as using library database and evaluating sources available via the “How do I…?” link from the Library home page.

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From the Desk of the Chief Librarian, Larry E. Sullivan.

The Asiatic cholera epidemic, or second cholera epidemic as it is sometimes called, spread from India in 1826 to Europe, as well as east to Japan and China. The disease spread west from Moscow in August 1830, and reached Warsaw in the summer of 1831. The disease killed hundreds of thousands of people and was especially rampant in prisons across Europe.  The Sealy Library recently acquired a ‘sammelband” or gathering of a number of printed sources, as well as a manuscript, bound in one volume: Leggi e provvidimeni di sanita per gli stati di terraferma di S.M. il Re di Sadegna 1831/ Lois et règlements e santè pour les états de terreferme de S. M. le Roi de Sardaigne 1831. The letterpress portion consists of over 200 pages that established laws and protocols for prison physicians in the Piedmont area of Italy collected by the physican Giambattista Ferraris (fl. 1820s-1830s) in the town of Biella.  The volume provides a valuable glimpse into the professional preoccupations of prison physicians at the times, which includes special rules for administering drugs, regulating the nourishment of prisoners, tending to the mentally ill, and crucially, preventing and treating infectious diseases, principally cholera.  The document discusses in detail the nature of the disease, quarantining the afflicted and disinfecting their possessions, measures for avoiding becoming ill, and best practices for the policing and maintaining cordons.   

At the end of the volume is an extraordinary manscript that suggests Dr. Ferraris treated mentally ill patients in his care. A copy of an address from Dr. Cipriano Bertolini of Torino’s mental hospital, Regio Manicomio,  who first addresses the architecture of the asylum and then discusses the thirty-three potential causes of madness: hereditary condition, alcoholism, head injury, mercury exposure, masturbation, menstruation, pregnancy, and others.  He also mentions moral causes of madness, which include reversals of fortune, overindulgence in politics, maleducation, and a dissolute lifestyle, too much study without exercise, deep thinking on astrological, metaphysical and mystical matters, and even reading novels.  This manuscript is an important step in the argument that insanity had both “moral” and physical/organic origins and in the medical profession’s eventual success in securing a monopoly (as opposed to the interventions of religious authorities) on the treatment of insanity.

These most important treatises are not known in any United States repository and once again point to the great value of Sealy Library’s collections in the study of the entire field of criminal justice and its ancillary disciplines.

More from the Fall 2019 newsletter  


Impeachment proceedings in the United States are rare. Presidential impeachments are even rarer. 

The library now provides access to HeinOnLine’s U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library


This new collection helps researchers understand these rare historical events. Organized by the four affected presidents, it brings together a variety of documents both contemporaneous and asynchronous to each president's impeachment, presenting both a snapshot of the political climate as each impeachment played out and the long view history has taken of each proceeding. The collection includes a curated list of scholarly articles, external links, and a bibliography for further research on this topic. It also includes the Whistleblower Complaint on Ukraine, compiled by Kelly Smith at UC San Diego, which brings together official documents related to the whistleblower complaint and impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. This collection will continue to grow as new material becomes available, particularly in connection with the current investigation into Donald Trump.


What are you watching for Halloween?  Here are some suggestions from the Library’s collections.


Chains. (2009).  Dir. Lewis, S.  Ten minute prize winning horror/sci fi short.  Life underground in a dystopian future where the punishment for wasting water is death. 

Wild Rose. (2004).  Dir. Byoung-a, H.  In Korean, animated. Five minutes.  A girl meets her mother's ghost in a graveyard.

The Tell-Tale Heart. (1958). Dir. Yurdin, C.  23 minutes. A dramatic telling of Edgar Allan Poe’s story  performed by a single actor.   In black and white.

The Day of the Dead. (1999). Dir.  25 minutes, mostly English langauge.  The character Death shows us around a Mexican village and cemetery, where graves are decorated and turned into works of art, with flowers, personal objects, food, offerings and thousands upon thousands of candles. 


Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. (2019). Dir. Burgin, X.   African Americans and Hollywood horror movies. 

Birth of the Living Dead. (2013).  Dir. Kuhns, R.  About making Romero’s 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead.


Vampire clay.  (2017).  Dir. Umezawa, S.  In Japanese.  A possessed pile of clay terrorizes students at an art school.  Comic-horror.

100 Bloody Acres. (2012).  Dir. Ryan, J. Two brothers in the Australian outback run an organic blood and bone fertilizer business using dead car crash victims, but lately supply has been running low… 

Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal. (2013).  Dir. Dobbin, M. A cereal-obsessed art student turns into a ravenous sleepwalking cannibal at night… 

Alléluia. (2014). Dir. Du Welz, F.  A lonely-hearts serial killer.  From Belgium, in French.

The Tragedy of Macbeth(2016).  Dir. O'Brien, S. Stratford Festival production of the Shakespeare classic.  A witch-strewn horror of murderous ambition as Macbeth and his wife conspire to seize the throne of Scotland. 

The Phantom of the Opera.  (1925).  Dir. Chaney, L.  Silent film, black and white.  A disfigured madman falls in love with an opera understudy. 

Halley. (2013).  Dir. Hoffman, S. a night guard with a decomposing body. Scores high on the horror scale. A slow exploration of mortality, loneliness, despair.    In Spanish.   


Get Out!  (2017).  Dir. Peele, J.   A black man goes to visit his white girlfriend’s family in the countryside; what can possibly go wrong?  Comic-horror.     DVD #1498.

A girl walks home alone at night. (2015).  Dir. Amirpour, A. Iranian vampire film.  DVD # 1507.


What horrors can you find in our video collections