Library News Blog

The numbers from July 2016 to June 2017

Marta Bladek

The Library gate count registered over 350,828 visits, an increase of 3.3% from the previous academic year.

The Library home page registered 1.3 million pageviews from 240,000 unique computers. Users came from 188 countries around the world. 

65% of users accessed the website from off-campus, a 7% increase from previous year.

Students sitting at group study tableStudents made great use of the Library’s five group study rooms. There were 1,820 group study room reservations. The highest demand coincided with midterms and finals.

John Jay librarians answered over 8,800 reference questions at the reference desk, over the phone, by email and chat. These one-on-one interactions added up to over 700 hours, or the equivalent of 30 days, of answering queries.

Librarians taught 188 full-period instruction sessions and visited 45 classes for shorter presentations. ENG 101 accounted for the majority of the instruction sessions.

John Jay faculty, students, and staff downloaded over 812,000 journal articles provided by the Library databases. Approximately 73% of those articles were downloaded by John Jay students and faculty working from home. 

eReserves featured 497 active course pages, containing 2,664 items. eReserve course pages were viewed 42,560 times, with 73,152 individual document hits.

As of June 2017, there were 1,264 users registered with Interlibrary Loan. Faculty accounted for 33% and graduate students for 38% of those who request items from other libraries. (Staff and undergraduate students account for the remaining 28% of ILL users.) The ILL department processed 1,525 requests, which marked an increase of almost 10% in comparison to the previous year. 

32 researchers consulted the Library’s Special Collections, visiting the Library a total of 72 times. The Lloyd Sealy Library and Special Collections staff were acknowledged in four book-length publications whose authors worked extensively with our collections.

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See more facts, stats, and figures »


Maria Kiriakova

One would think that with the rise of globalization the borders between countries would move into the sphere of imagination. But in recent years, the topic of borders and walls has become one of the most debated all over the world. Below is just a short list of books from the collections of the Lloyd Sealy Library on the topic of border studies. There are many more materials available in our databases in the form of other books, articles from scholarly and popular sources, as well as videos and movies. Do a search in the online discovery tool OneSearch using such words as border or boundaries or border patrol or border wall, etc.

  • Backmann, R., & Kaiser, A. (2010). A Wall in Palestine. New York: Picador. 
    • Stacks DS 119.65. B3313 2010
  • Buckley, W. F. (2004). The Fall of the Berlin Wall. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
    • Stacks DD 881. B797 2004
  • Elizondo Griest, S. (2017). All the Agents and Saints: Dispatches from the U.S. borderland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 
    • Stacks F 395. M5 E45 2017
  • Hensel, J. (2004). After the Wall: Confessions from an East German childhood and the life that came next. New York: Public Affairs. 
    • Stacks HQ 799.G3 H45613 2004
  • Kassabova, K. (2017). Border: A journey to the edge of Europe. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf Press.
    • Stacks DR 50.7. K37 2017
  • Lew-Williams, B. (2018). The Chinese must go: Violence, exclusion, and the making of the alien in America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
    • Stacks E184.C5 L564 2018
  • Loyd, J. M., Mitchelson, M., & Burridge, A. (2012). Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, borders, and global crisis. Athens: University of Georgia Press.
  • Maril, R. L. (2011). The Fence: National security, public safety, and illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press.
    • Stacks JV 6565. M37 2001
  • Rael, R., & Cruz, T. (2017). Borderwall As Architecture: A manifesto to the U.S.-Mexico boundary. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. 
    • Stacks F787. R33 2017
  • Rieber, A. J. (2014). The Struggle for the Eurasian Borderlands: From the rise of the early modern empires to the end of the First World War. New York: Cambridge University Press.
    • Stacks DS 5. R54 2014
  • Spyrou, S., & Christou, M. (2014). Children and Borders. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Wastl-Walter, D. (2011). The Ashgate Research Companion to Border Studies. Farnham: Taylor and Francis.

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Ellen Sexton

The John Jay community is making good use of our streaming media platforms—though because we only collect aggregated data, we don’t know who is watching, or why. We assume that the most watched titles are being assigned as class viewing. In general, usage peaks during the Spring and Fall semesters, and drops off during January intercession and the summer. The most watched videos are documentaries. Below is some data from our three most popular platforms. 

Graph of usage, up to 700 films

Alexander Street: includes American History in Video; Counseling and Therapy in Video; Criminal Justice and Public Safety in Video; Ethnographic Video Online; Human Rights Studies Online; Psychological Experiments Online; and the PBS Video Collection.


Films on demand graphs, 2014-2017

Films on Demand: Over 10,000 documentaries, dramas, and newsreels from the world


Graph of Kanopy usage, up to 200 films

Kanopy: Currently streaming about 200 documentaries, feature films and instructional films to the John Jay community.

(Please note as of 4/19/2018, for financial reasons, we have had to cease our PDA model and are no longer able to offer our users the ability to choose and add more videos to our Kanopy collection themselves.  Our access is currently restricted to films users have already viewed sufficient times to have triggered licenses. Faculty wishing to request special access to specific titles should contact the media librarian Ellen Sexton. Please note that New York Public Library provides access to a much larger collection.)


Top 12 videos from each platform for the calendar year 2017

Platforms: Alexander Street, Kanopy, Films On Demand.


Collection / distributor 



The Disappearing Male: Environmental Threats to Human Reproduction

TVF International


Films on Demand

Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and the Search for Identity

Illumination Films


Films on Demand

The Sociology of Crime and Deviance

Online Classroom Ltd.


Films on Demand

All About Food Additives

Video Education America (VEA)


Films on Demand

The Abused Woman: A Survivor Therapy Approach

Counseling and Therapy in Video, Volume 1


Alex St

Mississippi Cold Case: Solving a Murder from the Civil Rights Era

Canadian Broadcasting Corp.


Films on Demand

The Official Story

Janus Films (The Criterion Collection)




Cambridge Educational


Films on Demand

Interview with a Serial Killer

Digital Right Group Limited


Films on Demand

Eyewitness: Who Did It?

Open University


Films on Demand

Voltaire: A Concise Biography

Academy Media


Films on Demand

Heaven: How Five Religions See It

Crew Neck Production


Films on Demand

Taboo: Child Rearing

National Geographic Digital Media


Films on Demand

The Toxins Return: How Industrial Poisons Travel the Globe

Journeyman Pictures


Films on Demand

Multicultural Counseling/Therapy: Culturally Appropriate Intervention Strategies

Counseling and Therapy in Video, Volume 1


Alex St

Understanding Group Psychotherapy: Outpatients, Part 1

Counseling and Therapy in Video, Volume 1


Alex St

Understanding Group Psychotherapy: Outpatients, Part 2

Counseling and Therapy in Video, Volume 1


Alex St

My Brooklyn

New Day Films



Cultural Competence in the Helping Professions

Counseling and Therapy in Video, Volume 1


Alex St

Handel: Water Music

The Great Courses



See our Media Guide for more about the Library’s collections of documentaries, feature films, training films, and more, in streaming and DVD formats.  Please contact the librarian responsible for media, Ellen Sexton, with questions, comments, acquisition suggestions.

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Maureen Richards

Screenshot of World Scholar database

With the introduction of powerful library resource discovery tools like CUNY’s OneSearch—which allows you to access the content in a majority (but not all) of the library’s databases through a single platform—it is getting harder to make the case for searching library databases one at a time. However, there are exceptions, and World Scholar: Latin America & the Caribbean is among them. (So is Crime, Punishment and Popular Culture, also featured in this newsletter.) These databases are the result of extensive collaborations among scholars, researchers and archivists, seeking ways to make unique archival collections available to a larger audience. 

World Scholar: Latin America & the Caribbean aims to be comprehensive in scope by covering the politics, economics, culture, environment, and international affairs of this region.  Although keyword searching is possible, the best first step is to get familiar with the way this database is organized by browsing through its three main categories: topics, statistics, and historical collections. It covers about 350 topics that are organized within 11 categories ranging from agriculture to war and diplomacy. You will also find a myriad of statistics about this region, including those that focus on the environment, health, and infrastructure. The archival content, though not as expansive, includes 34 historical collections with documents dating from the 15th through the 20th century. The content of the database is overseen by an Advisory Board of academics (including Peter Manuel, a professor of ethnomusicology here at John Jay, who serves as a consultant).

The easiest way to take advantage of the strength of this database is to select one of the topics from the list. Similar to the entries you would find in an encyclopedia, the topics provide a brief overview, followed by secondary sources (like academic journals, reference materials, and news, including news feeds), related archival materials from the historical collections (including monographs, original manuscripts, signed letters, expedition records, maps, and diaries), and any relevant statistics. 

For example, if you select “Judiciary in Latin America” from the topics list, after reading a brief overview, you get instant access to a panoply of secondary sources, a news feed, and statistics on how many women serve as judges in Latin American courts. You can also see quickly that there are 17 historical monographs from the archival materials related to this topic.  In addition, if any of these documents are in unfamiliar language, you can simply click on “translate” to have it instantly translated. (But note that these automated translations may not make for the smoothest reading.)

Why use this database?

Use the World Scholar database if you are looking for a blend of secondary and archival sources relating to Latin America and the Caribbean region. It is particularly appropriate for undergraduates who may be unfamiliar with how to gather the different types of sources used in the research process. For more library resources on Latin America and Latina/o Studies see the library’s LLS research guide or ask a librarian.

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Marta Bladek

The Library’s growing collection of primary sources databases now includes Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture, 1790-1920. Focused on trends in crime, as well as on judicial and penal reforms during the long 19th century, this digital archive also features press coverage and popular culture responses to crime and punishment. Although it is multilingual and international in scope, it is nevertheless mostly composed of British and American collections that include Crime and the Criminal Justice System: Records from The U.K. National Archives, 1780-1923; Nineteenth Century Crime: Manuscripts from the American Antiquarian Society, 1750-1923; Journal of Prison Discipline and Philanthropy, 1845-1920; and many others. Over 2.1 million pages of historical documents ranging from trial transcripts, police reports, newspaper articles, prisoner photographs, penal reform treatises, to examples of the emerging genre of crime fiction, capture the period’s pivotal role in defining crime and establishing responses to it. 

Given the wealth of primary sources the database contains, researchers have multiple options to explore its depth. For example, keywords can refer to types of crimes (robbery, arson), locations (saloon, alley, gutter), motives (revenge, love), substances (absinthe, opium), weapons used (rifle, revolver), or types of punishment (solitary confinement, capital punishment). As always, using the Advanced Search allows for a more guided and tailored search. It is possible to limit the search to a specific collection or publication. Moreover, types of text documents can be narrowed (case overview, public notice, sermon, and many more) and so can types of illustrated works (cartoons, drawing, photograph, among others).

In addition to these filters, Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture, 1790-1920 features term frequency and term cluster tools that are worth exploring. For example, when searching for records on “solitary confinement,” a glance at the term frequency tool reveals that the use of the term increased dramatically in the 1840s, a period when the practice was widely debated:

Screenshot of 'solitary confinement', spikes across the years 1780-1970

The practice had been variously described in the preceding decades: “solitary imprisonment,” “solitude,” and “unremitted solitude” are some of the terms previously used. After selecting the year 1846, the researcher can view all 15 documents that mention it. The term frequency tool, then, captures the moment when specific concepts and practices came to the forefront in discussions around crime and punishment. 

The term cluster tool can be used to visualize which words and subjects are found most often in the text of search results. Word clusters might bring up expected connections, along with unexpected but commonly related terms, inviting researchers to explore new approaches to their subject. For example, the cluster for “solitary confinement” shows that “petitions,” “prison” and “reports on criminals” are terms that were found most often in the same documents “solitary confinement” appeared:

Word cluster, including Petitions, James, Scotland, Prison, Court, and more

To illustrate how the cluster tool may inform new research: a closer look at the documents in the “petitions” sub-cluster may lead a researcher to investigate the length of solitary confinement sentences during a given time period, as well as spark an analysis of which kinds of appeals had been the most successful.

Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture, 1790-1920 is particularly useful to those already familiar with the period and themes it covers. This digital resource is uniquely designed to spark new lines of scholarly inquiry. Well-suited for classes examining the history of crime and punishment and their philosophies and practices, it is also a great teaching tool for assignments that rely on primary sources.

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A citation database for the sciences and beyond

Karen Okamoto

Scopus abstracts and indexes peer-reviewed, scientifically significant literature in the social sciences, medicine, and physical and life sciences. With records for publications dating as early as 1788 and cited references dating back to 1970, Scopus’s depth of content is increasing as it continues to compete with the Web of Science, another well-known citation index to which the John Jay Library also subscribes. Content types in Scopus include journals, books, conference materials and trade journals from publishers around the world.

Scopus’s content coverage by subject area (source PDF):

Pie chart of Scopus content categories: 17% life sciences, 31% social sciences, 27% physical sciences, 26% health sciences

For researchers, Scopus provides several helpful features and filters to increase search precision. Users can, for example, limit their search to funding sources, articles in press, and fully open access journal articles. Search results can also be limited to content uploaded within the last seven days, demonstrating the timeliness of Scopus’s data, which is updated daily. 

For authors and those interested in publication analytics, Scopus generates impressive visual displays of these metrics and offers various citation alert options. For example, users can create alerts each time a particular publication is cited, or they can “follow” particular researchers and their publications. Authors can also retrieve Scopus’s metrics for specific journals, helping authors choose between journals to which they might submit manuscripts. In addition, it provides an author search which lists all the publications by an author as indexed in Scopus. Scopus generates a bar and line graph to illustrate documents indexed and the number of citations for a publication by year.

Sample analytics for an author, displaying documents and citations indexed by Scopus:

Chart of author documents and citations from 2008 to 2018

Graphs plotting the number of publications for a given institution can also be generated by Scopus.

Subjects of John Jay faculty publications from 1969 to the present:

Pie chart of subjects. The biggest slice, 30.4%, is in social sciences.


Scopus’s content and features are impressive, but it is important to keep in mind the limitations of any database or bibliometric tool. Scopus provides analytics for the content it indexes, which may not be completely comprehensive. Other citation indexes such as the Web of Science and Google Scholar may provide different results and numbers for the same publication and author. Web of Science, for example, claims to have over 100 million records (source, PDF) while Scopus has over 69 million (source, PDF). Comparing these analytics can be revealing and instructive. 

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Even spy agencies are using shareable, open sources... We can, too!

Vee Herrington

There has been lots of hype and increased awareness in higher education over the past few years about openness, sharing, and equity in education. Colleges and universities across the US and even the world are trying to make education more affordable and accessible with open educational resources (OER). OERs are any material used for education where the restrictions of traditional copyright have been waived or do not exist; therefore, these materials are free for the students to use.

College textbook costs have increased faster than medical services and new home prices, at three times the rate of inflation.

At over an 800% increase in the past 10 years, college textbook costs have increased faster than medical services, new home prices and three times the rate of inflation (US Public Interest Research Group, 2014). Eighty-five percent of students have delayed or avoided purchasing textbooks, with 91 percent citing cost as the reason. To make matters worse, half of the students reported that their grades have been negatively impacted by their decision (Wakefield Research, 2017). If a course centers around a textbook, inequity exists if some students cannot purchase the textbook.

What is CUNY and specifically, John Jay College, doing about lowering textbook costs, since almost 40% of CUNY students come from households with annual incomes of less than $20,000 per year? New York State awarded CUNY $4,000,000 for OER initiatives to be spent in FY 2018 to help faculty convert courses to using free educational materials, instead of expensive proprietary textbooks. Using a share of the state funding, John Jay is promoting OER with the Course Conversion Project. The grant is administered out of the Teaching and Learning Center and the office of Educational Partnerships and General Education. With 16 participants, the objective is to convert five courses (each with five sections) using textbooks and other materials with a “zero cost to students.” Most of the courses are general education, high enrollment classes.  

In addition to a stipend for the participating faculty, the funding provides for eight OER conversion seminars focusing on course design, pedagogy, the selection and evaluation of OER materials, and the technology needed to host the materials. Even though library resources, such as ebooks and journal articles, are copyrighted and not considered OER, these rich resources are zero cost to the students and were also addressed in the seminars. Since it may be difficult to find one perfect OER textbook, the participants were trained in using the Library’s discovery tool OneSearch to locate materials (chapters in various books, journal articles, etc.) that support the various learning outcomes. Unique to John Jay, the grant also supports the publication of the John Jay College OER Justice eReader, which, under the guidance of a faculty Editorial Board, will bring together a collection of key texts that will function as an intellectual hub for conversations focusing on justice. 

I was hired for 15 hours per week to support this college-wide OER initiative at John Jay. This is not my first experience of promoting OER adoption; I wrote one of the first successful OER grants in CUNY when I was Chief Librarian and Director of Academic Technology at Guttman Community College. Previously, I had been involved in the “open-source” (not classified) research movement for over 10 years while working for the Department of Defense. Even though that was a different kind of open movement, there are many similarities. I gave research classes on using open source materials (publicly available sources) and taught the military how to search for and find open source materials to use in Open-source Intelligence (OSINT). OSINT includes information available that is not classified, clandestine or covert and is used for intelligence gathering and analysis. Since these resources are open, they are easy to share without needing a security clearance. I introduced my students at the Intel School to various CIA and FBI databases of open source materials and other tools.

As the OER Librarian at John Jay, I am  assisting in the planning and leading of the OER seminars, and I work one-on-one with the faculty participants. I help them find OER resources and talk to them about understanding and applying Creative Commons licensing.  I’m focused on keeping the participants on track and progressing towards the grant goals.  I maintain the Course Conversion participants Blackboard site and assist with the Justice eReader Group site.

Poster board with title, How much did you spend on textbooks this semester? Students put dots in cost slots. 4 dots in $600 or more, most dots in $100-199 and $200-299

Outreach and promotion of OER to the entire John Jay faculty is key to growing this movement. In March, the Library held a Pop-Up Library event during Community Hour. Students were asked to indicate how much they spent on books this semester by placing a sticker on a board (see image at left). We handed out bookmarks with directions on how students can search for “zero cost textbook” classes in CUNYfirst. Other OER events have been organized on campus, including an OER workshop for faculty held during Faculty Development Day in January. 

Another important aspect of the OER project focuses on technology. Once the class is designed, the syllabus completed and the OER materials gathered, the participants need a virtual place for hosting the course, so the students have easy access. LibGuides, CUNY Academic Works, Moodle, ePortfolio, WordPress, Blackboard, and Lumen Learning are all possible as platforms for OER classes. Many of the participants in the project chose LibGuides as the hosting platform for their OER converted classes. These course guides are like a mini-website and include all the materials (including the OER textbook or readings) needed for the course, and are viewable by anyone, thus sharable with the world, one of the important premises of the OER movement. Besides being visually appealing and easy to use, LibGuides are already licensed by John Jay. This platform has many robust features, such as reusability and the ability to move and copy content easily.

In summary, John Jay College is working hard to develop and enhance new and ongoing OER initiatives. CUNY’s goal is to establish the University as a national leader in OER (The City University of New York, 2018). The project initiative at John Jay is a big success, with new inquiries weekly from faculty wanting to participate. We hope the grant will be renewed for next year so more classes can be converted. The OER movement will save students money, but also enhance their learning experience. OER is about sharing and promoting educational and social equity.


2017 Wakefield Research. (2017). Retrieved from VitalSource.

The City University of New York. (2018). Open Educational Resources. Retrieved from CUNY Libraries.

U.S. Public Interest Research Group. (2014, January 27). Fixing the Broken Textbook Market. Retrieved from U.S. PIRG.


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Robin Davis

Internet privacy is a moving target. With new technologies emerging at a steady clip, it can be difficult to keep up with how best to keep your data safe while using the web. I’ve highlighted 3 things you can do to stay secure on the web.

Two-factor authorization is offered by many email and banking services as a way to lock out hacking attempts. The two factors required to gain entry to your account are a password (most common way to authorize access) and something else that only you would have access to, most often your mobile phone. So even if a hacker swiped your password—by finding a Post-It note taped to your monitor or, more likely, buying passwords in bulk on the Internet’s black market—they would lack the second required factor. For instance, Bank of America offers SafePass, which you can set up such that when you try to transfer a large amount of money to someone, the bank will text a 6-digit code to your phone. You’ll need to input this code before the transfer can go through. Check to see if your bank, email service, health app, or other service offers two-factor authorization.

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are one way to stay secure while on a public, open network, such as a café’s wifi. While on that café’s wifi, other people on the same network could potentially spy on you to see the things you view and send online, just as if they were looking over your shoulder. A VPN blocks them from spying on you by encrypting the things you view and send. The world of VPNs can, admittedly, be very confusing—there are a thousand “Best VPN” lists and none of them seem that neutral or reliable. After all, the VPN company does see the things you view and send, so they might be incentivized to go to the dark side and make money off of your data. Luckily, John Jay offers faculty its own VPN, meaning you can access the John Jay network even while off-campus and feel more secure about using public wifi. You’ll need to install a VPN client, which, once installed, will require you to log in with your usual John Jay credentials whenever you want to use it. Just call DoIT (ext. 8200) to request VPN access and client installation. 

Check location services settings often on your mobile phone. Make sure that only the apps you trust most have access to your current and past locations. What funny business might an app get up to with your location data? Uber, for instance, tracked users’ locations 5 minutes after their ride ended, ostensibly for passenger safety, though that seemed a weak excuse in light of Uber’s past misuses of user data. (They rolled this back in 2017 after strong pushback.) Strava, a running app, tracked users’ runs and added them to their publicly viewable map of Strava runs all over the globe, not realizing that it pinpointed secret U.S. military bases where staff kept track of their exercise with the app. (Strava has since declared it would clear the public map every month.) The point is, even big-name apps might use your location data in fishy or insecure ways. Recently, privacy advocates have pushed for greater transparency: app store administrators have asked app developers to be more explicit about when and why they need user location data, and smartphones will now typically light up a little location pin icon to let you know that an app is currently tracking your location. It still pays to be extra careful about whom you allow to see your physical location, so check your location services settings on a regular basis.

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Jeffrey Kroessler

Few things frustrate a librarian at the reference desk more than facing yet another student asking, “Do you have this book?” This is not to say we do not want to help students find volumes required for their classes, but when the eighth student arrives asking for the same book, well, you can imagine. 

Sometimes we have the book. Sometimes we do not. Or we may have the 5th edition and the professor is using the 6th edition. We are left to wonder why students are not equipped with this information before they set foot into the Library. 

One simple addition to the syllabus will ease everyone’s pain.

Does the Library have the required textbook? If so, add the call number on the syllabus. The syllabus is required to include the isbn, but that is so students can purchase the correct edition (and that does not necessarily help us find what they seek). What they need in the library is the call number.  

Is the book on reserve, meaning the students can use it for three hours in the Library? Note that fact on the syllabus. With the call number. 

Do we have one copy of the required reading in our circulating collection? Please put it on reserve so it is available to many students throughout the semester, and not just the first student who races to the Library from class to check it out and take it home. 

Is the book available as an ebook? If so, let students know that they can access it at any time from any computer. 

Textbooks are ever more expensive, and it is frustrating for a student to hear that we have the 5th edition but not the 6th. Does it matter? That is, has the content in a Sociology 101 text changed so much that the earlier edition is obsolete? Of course not. The Library does not purchase textbooks for every course, every year. We may have a half dozen copies of that 5th edition available on reserve, but not the 6th edition required for the class. 

What might change in textbooks in each successive edition will be the pagination, charts and illustrations, and the questions at the end of a chapter. Faculty would serve their students well by comparing editions to determine whether a previous edition would serve just as well as the current edition. For example, rather than assign readings by pages (e.g. 144–165), assign by chapter. 

Finally, before assigning that hefty and expensive tome, check the availability of our Open Educational Resources (OER) and Alternative Educational Resources (AER). What we have available digitally could fill just about any syllabus.


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Robin Davis

The Lloyd Sealy Library set up shop as a Pop-Up Library in a temporary satellite location: the Kroll Atrium, one of the busiest spots on campus during Community Hour. For one week in March, librarians met with passing students at two tables, drawing them in with the offer of free books and snacks and talking with them about how they view the library.

Librarian talking with students

The “Ask a Librarian!” table

As librarians, we encounter students most frequently at the reference desk and in the classroom—both situations in which students come to the library. But what if the library came to them? At the “Ask a Librarian!” table, we were available to answer students’ questions about anything study-related. To encourage interactions, we set up signs with suggested queries: 

  • Where’s the quietest space on campus?
  • How do you cite an article with 5,154 authors?
  • Does a presidential tweet count as a “credible source”?

Over 370 students stopped to chat with librarians, many of them drawn to our free books cart, which was loaded with donated books that the Library cannot accept into its collections. Students were also attracted to the free digital subscriptions to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, both of which had provided John Jay with “swag” (card holders that stick on smartphones, sticky note packs, and pens). Curious passersby were also treated to a plethora of handouts, from “A Quick Guide to APA Style” to “How to find a case by citation.”

The “Tell a Librarian!” table

Tell A Librarian sign with bowl of candyEvery three years, we run an “In-Library Use Survey,” which has been led for many years by Bonnie Nelson (now happily retired). These surveys tell us a lot about how students use the Library and what they expect of it. (See this newsletter’s Spring 2017 issue for the latest results.) But the population sampled only includes students already inside the physical library. What about those who only use the Library online? What about those who don’t know about the library resources available to them? To attempt (informally) to ask a representative slice of the John Jay student population such questions, we set up a “Tell a Librarian!” table, which was covered in various surveys that librarians collaboratively created, from “How would you describe your ideal library building?” (top terms: calming, comfy couches, fast wifi) to “Have you ever used a library ebook?” (21 of 32 had) to “How much did you spend on textbooks this semester?” (see pp. 8-9 for textbook & OER survey results). Students had a lot to say! All survey completions were rewarded with candy and fruit snacks. 

Survey results, in summary

  • Students appreciate the library’s quiet atmosphere and wish there were more solo study spots. 
  • Visually, students prefer a library that is full of books and seating over one that is full of computers or lab tables. 
  • Students feel more confident about finding articles and using databases than finding textbooks or books on a library shelf. 
  • Most students surveyed have:
    • used an ebook from the library at least once.
    • had a library instruction session at least once.
    • never watched a streaming video through the library.
    • never checked out a library book to take home. 
  • Students have high expectations for the level of service they receive at the library, whether it’s at the Reference, Circulation or Reserve Desks. 
  • 44% of 119 students surveyed spent more than $200 on textbooks this semester. 

Selected survey results, in detail

How would you describe your ideal John Jay Library building? Words that 8+ people circled out of the 40 words given:

  1. Fast wifi
  2. Comfy couches
  3. Lots of books
  4. Outlets everywhere
  5. Quiet
  6. Calming
  7. Absolute quiet room
  8. Distraction-free room
  9. Lots of printers

Which of these library workshops would you attend? Top choices out of 19 workshop titles given:

  1. APA/MLA citation tools (we already offer this!)
  2. How to save money on textbooks
  3. Get started with your research (we already offer this!)
  4. Find sources for your paper
  5. Research tips & tricks (we already offer this!)



The Pop-Up Library was made possible by Faculty-Student Engagement funding through the Division of Student Affairs.

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