Library News Blog
My name is George Corcoran… I was killed May 1, 1921… Please solve my murder… You can’t leave the library until you find my killer…
Over 150 first-year and transfer students accepted the challenge to “Escape the Library” this semester, continuing the library’s annual Murder Mystery Challenge activity. Participants follow the paper trail—locating books, citing sources, and exploring the library—to solve Corcoran’s murder.
Student feedback has been highly positive. “This was waaaay too much fun,” one student noted in a survey. “Definitely don’t think I’ll ever have this much fun in a library again.” (Librarians may beg to differ.) Another student wished that they could “do it at a time the library is closed, if that is even possible. I wanted to yell!”
The case students must solve actually happened. The trial of William Grubb, convicted killer of George Corcoran, is included in the Criminal Trial Transcripts of New York County Collection (1883–1927), housed in the Special Collections and digitized for the 2007 Crime in New York 1850–1950 Digital Project.
Since 2013, the Library has partnered with Student Academic Success Programs (SASP) to coordinate the activity, targeting students who are enrolled in First-Year Seminars and Transfer Seminars. SASP Peer Success Coaches attend each day of the game to help guide participants toward finding the right clues. Over 650 students have participated in the game since its inception.
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 4:43pm
CUNY is teeming with people conducting interesting research and writing. Steve Ovadia, a faculty member in the library at La Guardia Community College, and Kathleen Collins, faculty in the Lloyd Sealy Library at John Jay, are ferreting out some of these creators and featuring them on a new podcast, Indoor Voices.
The format is informal conversation, with Steve or Kathleen talking with guests about their work. So far these have included Richard Ocejo and Barry Spunt from John Jay, Barbara Katz-Rothman from the Graduate Center, and Polly Thistlethwaite and Jessie Daniels of the Graduate Center and Hunter College, respectively. Each of these has centered on the books these authors have recently published, but future chats may include non-book projects and works in progress.
The podcast itself is an evolving work in progress, and thanks to funding from John Jay’s Office for the Advancement of Research, it should see improvements and expansion in the coming year. Links to the audio interviews and more about the podcast can be found at indoorvoicespodcast.com.
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 4:41pm
At the end of the Spring semester, our systems staff installed a new print station and computer just outside the Library’s doors. This setup now allows students to access and print their papers even when the Library is closed.
We first advertised this new service on Instagram, where students left comments like “Great idea!” and “.” Since then, the Anytime Printing station has grown in popularity, particularly in the morning before our doors open.
Our Anytime Printing station is part of the EZ Print Center initiative, launched by CLSS in 2009 to relieve long lines at labs’ print stations. Many thanks to CLSS and our systems staff for installing this new station!
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 4:39pm
While staplers remain high in demand, we have been expanding the range of supplies and accessories we offer at the Reference Desk. When the Library added additional group study rooms—equipped with white boards, large monitors with multiple HDMI hookups, and outlets—we started to provide students with dry-erase markers and adapters to connect their individual devices to the room’s projector.
After many a desperate request, we have also purchased a few phone chargers that have quickly become popular. All these items can now be checked out at the Reference and Circulation Desks for 3 hours at a time.
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 4:36pm
In preparation for our upcoming exhibit, “Rogues Gallery: Forty Year Retrospective of Courtroom Art from Son of Sam to El Chapo” (Shiva Art Gallery, November 29 through February 2), I have been spending a lot of time with the Richard Tomlinson Collection of Courtroom Drawings. It strikes me that while many of us are familiar with courtroom drawings, we don’t know much about the process of courtroom artists.
As I reported previously in this newsletter (Spring 2012, p. 15), Richard Tomlinson worked as a courtroom artist for three decades. For quite a while, he worked covering New York City area trials full-time for Channel 5 WNEW news. He and other artists, working for other news outlets, would sit side by side, drawing boards in their laps at the front of the courtroom, surrounded by their art supplies, working quickly to capture all the action of the court proceedings within their allotted space on the courtroom bench. Richard Tomlinson was well known for drawing in a small, confined area with a few materials in his pocket and a pair of binoculars next to him; others spread out onto every free area on the bench and floor. At the end of the proceedings, courtroom artists ran outside to waiting news photographers and cameramen, who would immediately shoot the drawings in natural light on the sidewalk. Other times, artists lugged their drawings to Midtown newsrooms on the subway (or sometimes by a speeding cab), where editors shuffled through them looking for the best shot to illustrate breaking news stories. Now courtroom artists scan their drawings in their studios and email them to newsroom editors.
Courtroom artists employ a range of materials to capture all the color, actions, and emotions of court proceedings quickly. Sometimes the court appearance of defendants and witnesses is so brief that only a quick sketch can be accomplished, which is later colored in with details added from memory. The paper has to be the right size and texture to capture and hold the action as well as the drawing media, and it must stand up to possible rough handling. Everyone develops their own distinctive style, which could change over time, or with each trial. While pastels and charcoal can be messy and easily smudged, they are by far the most used medium because of their ease of use in rendering quick, colorful, and expressive drawings. Richard Tomlinson often did a charcoal sketch that he then filled in with colored oil crayon, pencils, or watercolor onto a thin, smooth—but very durable—vellum paper. Other artist materials include markers, pens, and gouache in any combination, all of which must correctly interface with the paper.
While courtroom artists are dwindling in number due to the widespread introduction of cameras in the courtroom, the Special Collections has a growing collection of courtroom art, launched by the Richard Tomlinson Collection and now supplemented with gifts of the Elizabeth Williams Collection and Aggie Kenny Collection. Portions of all these collections will be on exhibit in the Shiva Art Gallery exhibit, opening on November 29. Examples from these collections will also soon also appear in our Digital Collections.
A selection of resources on courtroom artists
Church, M.. (2006). The art of justice: An eyewitness view of thirty infamous trials Philadelphia, Pa.: Quirk. Reserve (3 day loan) NC953.8 .C47 A4 2006
Dengrove, I. L. (1990). My days in court: unique views of the famous and infamous by a court artist. New York: Morrow. Stacks NC 953.8 .D46 A2 1990
Hobman, P. (2015). Trial & image: Courtroom artists capture the colors and gestures of justice. ArtNews 115(2), 110-117.
Library of Congress, Washington D.C. (2017). Drawing justice: The art of courtroom drawing. Online exhibit.
Frost, Natasha. (August 2017). The dying art of courtroom illustration. Atlas Obscura Blog.
Williams, E.. (2014). The illustrated courtroom: 50 years of court art. Reserve (3 day loan) NC953.5 .U6 W54 2014
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 4:32pm
The Library’s monograph collection is multifaceted and reflects a variety of subjects that are hot topics in today’s mass media outlets. These passionately debated issues include race and ethnicity. Below are just a few examples of the books (in print and electronic format) that deal with the issue of being black in different parts of the world throughout history. See the location provided to find these materials in our library.
Aitken, R. (2015). Black Germany: The making and unmaking of a diaspora community, 1884-1960 (1st pbk ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stacks DD78 .B55 A48 2013
Alexandrov, V. (2013). The Black Russian. New York, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press. Stacks DK34 .B53 A43 2013
Campt, T. (2004). Other Germans: Black Germans and the politics of race, gender, and memory in the Third Reich (UPCC book collections on Project MUSE). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Stacks DD78 .B55 C36 2004 and also available in as an ebook, unlimited user access.
Chambers, E. (2017). Roots and Culture: Cultural politics in the making of Black Britain. I B Tauris & Co Ltd. Stacks DA125.N4 C39 2017
Dixon, K. & Burdick, J. (2012). Comparative Perspectives on Afro-Latin America. University Press of Florida. Available as an ebook, unlimited user access.
Earle, T. F., & Lowe, K. J. P. (2005). Black Africans in Renaissance Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press. Stacks D233.2 .B44 E26 2005
Hondius, D. (2014). Blackness in Western Europe: Racial patterns of paternalism and exclusion. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. Stacks D1056.2 .B55 H66 2014
Marable, M. & Agard-Jones, V. (2008). Transnational Blackness: Navigating the global color line (1st ed., Critical Black studies series). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Stacks and Reserve HT1581 .T73 2008
Ramey, L. (2014). Black Legacies: Race and the European Middle Ages. Florida: University Press of Florida. Available as an ebook, unlimited user access.
Smith, C. A. (2016). Afro-Paradise: Blackness, violence, and performance in Brazil. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Available as an ebook, unlimited user access.
Trigos, L. A, Svobodny, N., Nepomnyashchy, C. (2006). Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and blackness (Studies of the Harriman Institute). Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press. Stacks PG3358 .R33 U53 2006
Wyatt, Don J. (2011). Blacks of Premodern China. University of Pennsylvania Press. Available as an ebook, unlimited user access.
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 4:25pm
Gaslight Lawyers: Criminal Trials & Exploits in Gilded Age New York by Richard H. Underwood was published this year by Shadelandhouse Modern Press in Lexington, Kentucky. The book was recently acquired by the Library (Stacks KF355.N4 U53 2017). It has an excellent bibliography, and many of the works cited are also available via the Sealy Library.
Professor Underwood did his research in the New York Public Library, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Library of Congress, among others, but he highlights the Lloyd Sealy Library’s trial transcripts collection in his acknowledgements—and he opens the book with a special dedication:
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 4:20pm
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.
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 4:18pm
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.
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.
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 4:14pm
Recently acquired by the Media Department
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 DVD 1481 An elderly Jewish woman fights a legal battle to recover a Klimt painting stolen from her family by Nazis.
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.
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 4:11pm