Library News Blog

Robin Davis

Students learning how to program in JavaScript on the weekends and digital forensics faculty running research projects alike will benefit from the Lloyd Sealy Library’s many resources that support computer science learning and research. These include ebook collections that may be useful supplemental material touching on technical skills and theories. You can find ebooks from these collections sprinkled throughout OneSearch results when you search for a technical topic, but you can also browse these collections on their own. Here’s how.

Packt ebooks

Packt Publishing ebooks cover a multitude of technical topics, from forensics to penetration testing. Note: reading these ebooks online is easy; downloading a chapter is usually easy; downloading the whole book is very difficult.

To search just the Packt ebook collection:

Search for packt in OneSearch, and you’ll see the 2,000+ books in random order.

  1. Use this OneSearch link, which should work to show you the 2,000+ books in random order

    • Recommended: “Lock” the filters on the right side of the page (Books, Full Text Online, Ebook Central) by hovering over them and clicking the lock icon.

  2. Add a second (or third) keyword into the search box, like “security” or “penetration testing"

  3. In the search results, click "Full text online" to view the ebook.

Selected Packt ebooks:

Ebooks … for Dummies

We don’t think you’re a dummy! But sometimes, a simple introduction to a topic can be very useful — so you might consider looking at the technical ...For Dummies ebooks that you can access through the Library. As noted above: reading these ebooks online is easy; downloading a chapter is usually easy; downloading the whole book is very difficult.

To search just the ...for Dummies ebook collection:

  1. Use this "for dummies" OneSearch link, which should work to show you the 300+ books in random order

  2. “Lock” the filters on the right side of the page (Books, Full Text Online, published 2012 or later) by hovering over them and clicking the lock icon.

  3. Add a second (or third) keyword into the search box, like “SPSS” or “Java"

  4. In the search results, click "Full text online" to view the ebook.

Selected ...for Dummies ebooks:

Springer Link ebooks

Springer Link includes over 5,000 ebooks and conference proceedings related to CS. They are free to download in their entirety as PDFs if you access them through the Library.

Selected Springer Link ebooks:

More resources

The Institute of Physics offers ebooks and ejournals that may be useful for CS students.

Online encyclopedias, including those in the database Gale Virtual Reference Library, can be useful to help students decode jargon. There are many high-quality free ebooks online as well, including How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Interactive Edition.

Of course, you can request many print books (but not ebooks) from other CUNY libraries through OneSearch! By logging into OneSearch and selecting the "All CUNY" tab, you can find and request books to be delivered to John Jay and held under your name at the Circulation Desk.

For even more resource recommendations and links to all the collections mentioned here, please see our CS Research Guide.

More from the Spring 2019 newsletter


Kathleen Collins

In the fall of 2018, we conducted a survey of current graduate students. The link to the online survey was circulated via Twitter, Facebook, and the graduate student listserv administered by Graduate Studies.

Check out Episode 28 of the Indoor Voices podcast to hear from four John Jay graduate students about their experiences in their MA programs and as fellowship recipients.

Who participated in this survey?

There were 64 respondents ranging from students who began their graduate programs within the last three years. Roughly a quarter of respondents were in the Public Administration program and another quarter in the Criminal Justice Masters program, followed by 17% from Forensic Psychology and 11% from International Crime and Justice. Seventy-three percent of the respondents take classes on campus and 13% are enrolled in online MA programs. Sixty-six percent are full-time students and 33 percent are part-time. Thirteen percent are international students. A third of the respondents currently work in the field of their chosen academic program while 42% currently work in a field outside of their program of study.

How often do graduate students use the library?

While nearly 40% of the students surveyed say they come to the library 2-3 times per week, 13% say they have never visited the physical library. As for virtual visits, almost 70% say they visit the library website 2-3 times per week while just under 2% say they have never done so. Twenty-seven percent spend just enough time on campus to attend their classes, while the remainder spend varying amounts of time, from one to more than six hours per week on campus.

How useful are the following library services to you? Most found online databases and journals to be "very" useful, followed by the library as a place to study or write papers

How do graduate students use the library?

Overwhelmingly, the online databases proved to be the most valued library service offered. When asked what types of resources they used the most for their work, respondents cited “journals” most often. As for the section of the website students go to most often, it’s OneSearch (55%), followed by specific databases (31%).

When asked which other research gateways the students use, 62% say Google Scholar, while 34% claim Google. Some of the others specifically named included IEEE (a technical professional organization), Pub Med, Nexis Uni (formerly LexisNexis) and Sci-Hub (a research paper repository).

We asked what part of working on a research project or paper students enjoyed the most. Responses ranged from reading, gathering data, and learning, to “submitting it” and “none.” What frustrates them the most? Choosing the right key words, finding enough sources, and knowing what amount of research is enough. Several respondents referred to the time-consuming nature of research.

What frustrates you the most about doing research? Word cloud with most common responses including information, finding, research, topic, need sources

What else do graduate students want in the library?

The wish list items for the library are perennial: longer hours, being able to drink coffee, more quiet areas, and more space in general. (Last semester, the library opened new study areas: the Silent Study Area South and an expanded Reserve Lab.)

Are you a graduate student or do you teach or advise graduate students? Check out our downloadable brochure, Using the Library: A Guide for Graduate Students (PDF)

More from the Spring 2019 newsletter


Vee Herrington

How do we define justice at John Jay College? What if the instructors had a collection of key readings on justice, serving as a springboard for classroom discussions—an intellectual hub for conversations? These questions were the impetus for the creation of the John Jay Justice eReader.

As part of the Open Educational Resources (OER) course conversion project, the Justice eReader proposal was conceptualized in 2017 by Ray Patton, Director of Educational Partnerships and General Education, and Gina Foster, Director of Teaching and Learning Center. Patton and Foster describe the project as “...a collection of key texts on the topic of justice, broadly defined, that will function as an intellectual hub for conversations about justice among undergraduate students and their teachers at the college. By drawing texts from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas of study, it will serve as a resource for John Jay faculty searching for classroom reading materials, as well as for those seeking to broaden their disciplinary expertise. By using material that can be accessed by our students without cost—including openly licensed and library licensed materials—it will serve the college’s commitment to making education accessible ‘to traditionally underrepresented groups.’ In keeping with John Jay’s identity as a Hispanic Serving Institution, it will include contributions originally written in Spanish as well as in English.”

The content of the eReader constantly evolves, including a core of key texts that define the concept of justice at John Jay and a periphery of supplementary texts of interest from a variety of disciplinary and topical perspectives. In terms of access, it will be available in three descending layers of openness:

  • Open source texts, available to the public
  • Texts licensed by the Lloyd Sealy Library, available to the John Jay community
  • Recommended texts, available to those who choose to purchase them

As the OER Librarian at John Jay, I have been a part of this project since the inaugural stage. I serve as a consultant to the faculty and also as the administrator of the John Jay Justice eReader website.

Stage 1 in Creating the eReader: The Inaugural Stage

A call went out to the faculty in Fall 2017, inviting those interested to serve on the board of the project. We were looking for faculty who would bring a distinctive set of scholarly assets to the project with diverse approaches and backgrounds. As the Founding Editorial Board, they will not only get the reader started but will also set the tone for how the project unfolds in the future.

After a review of the CVs, the Justice eReader Editorial Board was selected:

  • Jamie Longazel, Associate Professor, Political Science
  • Suzanne Oboler, Professor, Latin American and Latina/o Studies
  • Olivera Jokic, Associate Professor, English and Gender Studies
  • María Julia Rossi, Assistant Professor, Modern Languages and Literature
  • Matthew Perry, Associate Professor, History
  • Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Professor, Africana Studies

Stage 2: The Ideation and Planning Phase

This stage was hard. We knew we wanted to build an eReader, but beyond wanting it to be online and open, we had lots of planning to do and many questions to consider:

  • How does one access the eReader, and what will it look like? An online book? A searchable database?
  • How do we select the readings?
  • If it is a searchable database, which application should we use?
  • How will we get other faculty to vet and submit important justice readings?

The eReader is organized in two parts. Part One, Texts for Teaching and Learning about Justice, is a small, curated collection of texts on the topics of “thinking about justice,” “what is justice?,” and “the meaning of justice.” Texts in this section are considered key readings about justice. Part Two, Subjects and Topics in Justice, is a larger collection of texts and other resources arranged topically into categories and assigned tags to facilitate searching.

Stage 3: Selecting Texts

Even though we did not know at this point what the actual eReader would look like, we decided to jump in and just begin. In this phase, the Editorial Board started posting texts about justice on a shared spreadsheet. These selections were interdisciplinary and represented what each board member felt was an important text in justice. The eReader was starting to move from an idea to something concrete. We gathered statistics based on the submissions: which disciplines were represented (e.g., Africana Studies, Latinx Studies, Gender Studies)? Which subjects and topics about justice were covered (e.g., inequality, activism, rights)? Where were the topic and subject gaps in the submissions?

Stage 4: Initial Design Phase

We now had to consider how to present the eReader. How is it accessed? With input from the board, I investigated several platforms to host the eReader. A platform that was open and easily searchable would work best. This ruled out an ebook format. We settled on a CUNY Academic Commons site, which uses WordPress, and built a prototype. For creating a searchable database for posting and accessing the submissions, the taxonomy and database features of WordPress were ideal. The entire site is searchable, but the submissions can also be accessed using customized categories and tags.

Readings fall into two categories, Chronology and Geography. Chronology reflects the time with the oldest submission being an ancient text “Code of Hammurabi” (c. 1800 BCE). Texts are also sorted into Geography categories representing different regions of the world.

Tags reflect the curriculum, topics, and subjects taught in the classroom, such as Immigration and Law/Legal. The tags were selected by the board, based partly on surveys of faculty, staff, and students, and partly in consideration of the areas addressed by the Justice Core portion of the curriculum. So far, Activism, Africana Studies, Inequality, Latinx Studies and Race are the top tags by number of readings, which is reflected in a tag cloud on the eReader site. However, this is still the very beginning stages of the eReader and will probably change as the eReader evolves.

Stage 5: Outreach

The next phase of the project is to get the word out to the faculty about the Justice eReader and to ask for submissions. The Editorial Board presented at Faculty Development Day (FDD) in Fall 2018. The presentation was later followed up by an email to faculty members who teach in the Justice Core portion of the general education curriculum. They were invited to preview the prototype eReader and to recommend texts and resources that are freely available online or through the library. In addition, participants teaching a zero-textbook cost Justice Core course section may be eligible for a $750 Open Education Resources grant payment.

As new faculty readings are submitted and vetted, the eReader will evolve as a living document and serve as an intellectual hub for conversations about justice at John Jay College. It is first and foremost a resource for teaching and learning. The Editorial Board designed it for integration in courses in the John Jay Justice Core of the general education curriculum, consisting of 100-level “Justice and the Individual” and 300-level “Justice in the US and Justice in Global Perspective.” The Justice eReader is designed to meet the needs and interests of Justice Core faculty and students. Even though the eReader is still in its infancy, it will continue to grow and evolve—facilitating the open sharing of teaching resources among John Jay faculty.

More from the Spring 2019 newsletter


The Library Department’s 2019 yearbook photo, featuring some of our faculty and staff. Photo by Caroline Kim, Committee on Commencement Activities.

Faculty notes

Larry Sullivan was elected to the Caxton Club, a Chicago bibliophilic society founded in 1895. 

Ellen Belcher presented the paper “Peopling Pots and Potting People: Anthropomorphic Ceramics in the Halaf and Neolithic Anatolia” at the Third International Workshop on Ceramics from the Late Neolithic Near East, in Antalya, Turkey on March 8, 2019.

Robin Davis presented “The Final Death(s) of Digital Scholarship: An Ongoing Case Study of DH2005 Projects” at the Digital Afterlives Symposium at Bard Graduate Center, March 1, 2019. She also presented “Bot Literacy: Teaching Librarians to Make Twitter Bots” with Mark Eaton at Computers in Libraries in Arlington, VA on March 27, 2019. As of June 13, 2019, she will be leaving John Jay to join NC State University Libraries as the User Experience Librarian. She is grateful to have spent seven wonderful years at Lloyd Sealy Library and will miss John Jay and her colleagues very much.

Library news in brief

Digital theses update
Ninety-nine theses have been submitted electronically since the process was established in late Fall 2016. Almost half of those (47) were submitted by students in Forensic Psychology, followed by Forensic Science (27), then Criminal Justice (11), Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity (6), Forensic Mental health Counseling (6), and International Criminal Justice (2).

John Jay theses are published and accessible in two places: The ProQuest Dissertation and Theses database and CUNY Academic Works. Via CUNY Academic Works, theses have been downloaded in 126 countries. The top of the list for some time has been “Tattoos and Criminal Behavior: An examination of the relationship between body art and crime” followed by “Risk and Prevalence of Personality Disorders in Sexual Offenders.” To see what all the fuss is about (854 and 506 downloads respectively) see for yourself by following those links to read them in CUNY Academic Works. Theses largely come from the fields of psychology, forensic science and criminal justice. These data are a strong bit of evidence illustrating the impact and reach of the institutional repository. Theses published to these platforms in the last two years are no doubt getting significantly more traction than theses that would otherwise be discoverable only through library catalogs. If you are a student or faculty member publishing work that you hope to be read and cited, please consider submitting to Academic Works. Kathleen Collins

24-hour Library Lab
The Library Reserve Lab, including the new extended study area, will be open continuously from 8:30am on May 13 until 9:45pm on May 22, 2019. That’s 220+ hours straight of open study space! With support from Student Council, as well as the Library and Public Safety, we are happy to provide a safe place for John Jay students to prepare for their final exams and projects. The Reserve Lab’s extended study area seats 24 users at computer workstations and provides many outlets for students to bring their own devices. The Library has sponsored the 24-hour Library Lab every semester since Spring 2014, and it is one of the most popular services we offer. Robin Davis

JJAY Students app
Since the new John Jay app for students debuted last summer on iOS and Android, over 5,000 students and faculty have downloaded it. The app serves as a directory of student services and clubs, a notification hub for important reminders such as Commencement deadlines, and a unified campus events listing. The Library piloted listing weekly workshops on the app’s calendar this semester. Students can now discover these workshops, add them to their schedules, and check in, all through the app. Student feedback so far has been positive. For those who don’t have the app, workshops are always listed on the library website, the main College calendar, and on flyers throughout campus. Robin Davis

More from the Spring 2019 newsletter


From the Desk of the Chief Librarian

Larry E. Sullivan

"These monsters in nature, models of hell, curse of the earth, women that dare attempt anything, and what they attempt they care not how they accomplish.” This quote from John Marston’s Jacobean revenge drama The Malcontent (ca. 1603) typifies many of the psychological, biological, anthropological, and criminological views of women’s criminality well into the twenty-first century. In honor of Women’s History Month in March, the Sealy Library acquired two classic French studies on female criminality that are exemplars of this view: Paul Dubuisson, Les voleuses dans les grand magasin [“Shoplifters in Department Stores] (1902), and Raymond de Ryckère, La Femme en prison et devant la mort [“Women in Prison and to Death”] (Lyon, 1898). Both of these books follow such theories as those of Cesare Lombroso, Sigmund Freud, and W. I. Thomas on the causes of crimes committed by women. For example, Lombroso, in his The Female Offender (1903), concluded that criminality among females was an inherent tendency reduced to biological atavisms. He attempted to prove this assertion by using, among other methods, anthropometric analysis to conclude that the cranial capacity of female criminals and prostitutes are more similar to lunatics than to normal women. Sigmund Freud in his New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1933) saw women using crime to avenge on men their lack of a penis. W. I. Thomas in The Unadjusted Girl (1923) described women as manipulating the male sex urge for ulterior purposes. In addition, Otto Pollack depicts women as inherently deceitful in his work, The Criminality of Women (1950). We could cite many other theories of female crime in the literature, but most hearken back to our opening quotation from the early seventeenth century.

Our two new additions are very rare French works that fit right into this tradition of theories about the female offender. Sealy Library’s copy of Paul Dubuisson’s work on shoplifting is the only known copy in the United States. The first large department store in Paris was Le Bon Marché, founded in 1838. Dubuisson, a French psychologist, mentions that “a special folly seizes a woman after she crossed the threshold of a great department store.” Even honest women, he goes on to say, are fallible to the “disease of kleptomania.” In 1816, kleptomania was first diagnosed as an impulse control disorder. By the beginning of the 20th century, such Freudians and eugenicists as Eugen Bleuler considered kleptomania among pathological and reactive impulses, and indicated that kleptomania is irresistible and not related to antisocial behaviors. In the twenty-first century many studies have reverted to more sophisticated biological theories of such crimes, a neurobiologic disorder rather than a psychological one. For example, in 2017, the Mayo Clinic reported in a study that two-thirds of kleptomaniacs are women. Today, we often link this crime with biological disorders that link kleptomania with the neurotransmitter pathways in the brain associated with behavioral addictions, including those associated with the serotonin, dopamine, and opioid systems.

Raymond de Ryckère in La Femme en prison… took a Freudian view of female criminality viewing women as “unpredictable narcissistic cats.” He believed that females were much more deceitful than men and more wily. His conclusion was that female judges should adjudicate crimes committed by women because they were “more astute and more pitiless than men.”

These acquisitions illustrate once again the scope and depth of our historical and international criminal justice collections and burnish our reputation as the premier research library in criminal justice in the United States. Such rare French studies, both from the holdings of noted French collector Philippe Zoummeroff, broaden our understanding of the development of theories of crime and are welcome additions to the Sealy Library.

More from the Spring 2019 newsletter


Experts from publisher Elsevier will be on campus to give a special SCOPUS training session, on Wednesday, 20 March 2019, during Community Hour 1:40 – 3 pm, in the Library classroom (on the upper floor of the library, west side). 

Open to all John Jay College students, staff & faculty.

Learn about Scopus’ comprehensive abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature within scientific journals, books, and conference proceedings. The training will be led by SCOPUS experts from the publisher Elsevier.

  • Find existing discoveries in the global world of research
  • Differentiate research topics and profound ideas
  • Identify and analyze which journals to read/submit to
  • Position your career – view citation counts and h-indices
  • Decide what, where, and with whom to collaborate
  • Track research impact; view global research trends


Questions? RSVP? Contact Maureen Richards at


Book cover, a corset with a green ribbon around itHer Body and Other Parties: Stories (Graywolf Press, 2017) by Carmen Maria Machado is a stunning short story collection that weaves together elements of science fiction, psychological horror, and dark comedy. I was glued to this book from the very first story—Machado’s characters navigate dangerous worlds, communicate with ghosts, and grapple with dread. Her Body and Other Parties is currently on the 2018 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize Shortlist and was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction. According to Deadline, FX has just secured the rights to a TV series based on the book, billing it as a “feminist Black Mirror with fairy tale themes,” which sounds spot-on. Available to check out from multiple CUNY libraries, including Hunter and BMCC. Robin Davis


Book cover, with a window open to blue skies with cloudsBlue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds by Lauren Slater (Little, Brown, 2018). Slater traces the history of psychopharmacology over the last century via nine drugs/treatments, from Thorazine to deep brain stimulation. She incorporates the decades-long experiments with treatments for her own depression, though this is more a collection of micro-histories than a memoir. It’s a journey of uses, misuses, trials and missteps, as well as the changing medical and popular attitudes towards various drugs and towards psychotherapy and other non-chemical treatments. There’s just enough science to satisfy the curious layperson interested in the workings of the brain; she describes what happens to rats on certain drugs but is most interested in addressing the human element. Available to check out from multiple CUNY libraries, including KBCC and QBCC. Kathleen Collins


Book cover, with a sad-looking young boy. There is also a National Book Award Finalist sticker.Hey, Kiddo (Graphix, 2018) is a moving graphic novel by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. This is a departure from Krosoczka’s usual work, which includes the Lunch Lady series and other children’s literature. Raised partly by his single mother, who is a drug addict, and mostly by his grandparents, Krosoczka retreated into art as a way to cope with his turbulent family life. The memoir follows him as he becomes a young adult, blossoms as an artist, tracks down his father, and reckons with his mother’s addiction, stints in rehab, and fatal overdose. This graphic novel is pegged as appropriate for ages 12–18, but adults will find it an absorbing, charming, and complex read, too. Available to check out from KBCC. Robin Davis


Book cover, with a microphone and empty stoolA Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (translation Knopf, 2017). A cocktail of stream of consciousness, jokes and tears in one glass. One evening of a stand-up comedy act by one man is described in almost 200 pages. Are you laughing at the man or with the man because he has no tears anymore? Did he plan this evening or is he improvising on the spot? This book is not a light read although it is impossible to put it down until you read it all. Available to check out from multiple CUNY libraries, including Baruch and Hunter. Maria Kiriakova


More from the Fall 2018 newsletter


Digitization news

Ellen Belcher

Black and white scan of a trial transcript from the New York Supreme Court, 1912

On a hot July night in 1912, a gentleman known as “Beansy” was shot outside his illegal gambling establishment at 104 West 45th Street. By October of that same year, seven men came before the Supreme Court of New York County, all charged with first-degree murder of Herman “Beansy” Rosenthal, including a NYPD Lieutenant named Charles Becker. Thus began a series of famous trials and public discussion about corruption in the NYPD and who was responsible for planning and carrying out Rosenthal’s murder.

Ultimately, five of the original defendants were found guilty on appeal and were executed at Sing Sing Prison. While it is generally agreed that Lieutenant Becker was “on the take” and had a far too cozy relationship with members of the “Lenox Hill Gang” (his co-defendants in this first trial), speculation on the guilt or innocence of Becker for this particular murder continues to be hotly debated and is the subject of five books so far.

The transcripts of three trials related to this case are in our Criminal Trial Transcripts of New York County Collection, which has been available on microfilm since 1985. The first half of the first trial (2,100 pages long) is available on the Library’s Digital Collections. We will make the second half and the other trials digitally available in 2019. In the meantime, we have supplemented the metadata with links to many other resources related to this case.


Mug shot of Frank Cerefisi Mug shot of Louis Rosenberg Mug shot of Charles Becker

Mug shot of Harry Horowitz Mug shot of Jacob Seidenshner

Above: Sing Sing prisoner identification photographs of five co-defendants ultimately found guilty of Rosenthal’s murder. From the Lewis Lawes Papers, available on the Library’s Digital Collections , where you can find more aliases for the men pictured here.


Richard Enright in NYPD Uniform in front of a large wreath    Richard Enright speaking to guests at a luncheon or dinner.

Earlier this year we received the Richard E. Enright Papers. Enright was NYPD Commissioner from 1914 to 1928. The donation was received from a retired garbage collector who found them in the trash on his route in Milwaukee. The entire collection has now been described in a finding aid, and all 20 items have been digitized and are now uploaded to the Library’s Digital Collections.

However, we have had a difficult time identifying the people, events, and dates for some of these items.

If you can help, please contact us.


More from the Fall 2018 newsletter


Ellen Sexton

We have just started subscribing to Academic Videos Online (AVON), the most extensive product curated by Alexander Street Press, a vendor that licenses video collections to university libraries. AVON contains 66,000 titles from multiple disciplines and in diverse formats: documentaries, feature films, lectures, news programs, and more. The metadata describing each video is detailed and includes abstracts and subject headings. Most (but not all) of the videos are closed-captioned in English.

A young boy with the caption, "and they tied my hands to the back. And they said, I, why violate the rule in the camp."


AVON videos are accessed via two user interfaces: the ProQuest search interface and the Alexander Street platform.

The ProQuest interface consists of an index with descriptive metadata and just a tiny thumbnail image of the video. The thumbnail image links to the video itself, which is hosted by Alexander Street on their platform.

This is an unusual construction for a database, but the ProQuest search interface alleviates significant aesthetic and functional problems with the Alexander Street platform. Searching the metadata on the ProQuest interface is many times quicker than on the Alexander Street platform. (Unfortunately, there is no easy link back to the ProQuest search engine from the Alexander Street platform, but perhaps that is something they will eventually add.)


The fastest and most efficient way of searching for videos by title or by specific topic is by way of the ProQuest search layer. The advanced search is especially powerful: searches can be limited by document type, language, and publication date. Word searches can be narrowed to specific record fields, including title, subject, location, person, etc.

All of the metadata is also harvested and shared with the library’s main discovery tool, OneSearch. Restricting OneSearch results to Resource type: Audio visual makes for more efficient searching and will search video content from multiple vendors.

The best way of browsing by discipline is on the Alexander Street Platform—slow, but it works.

An older woman in a traditional Nigerian hat telling a young woman, "You will give birth to a daughter too."


There’s a substantial amount of more obviously educational material. Documentaries, archival footage, news programs, training materials, music performances, and lectures typically appear in search results. Many are short enough to show in their entirety during one undergraduate course period and still have time for discussion.

AVON includes content previously packaged for us as American History in Video and Criminal Justice & Public Safety in Video. The easiest way to browse content from either of these collections is to navigate via the discipline headings on the Alexander Street platform—for instance, Social Sciences » Criminal Justice & Public Safety.

Middle-aged black man in glasses behind a desk covered in books, with a background of many books

The feature film content is astonishingly good, though not easy to browse. It is discoverable using the ProQuest interface by limiting the search to results tagged with the document type “performances.” Or search for the name of a distributor, or a particular award. Some films that caught my eye include, from distributor Kino Lorber, The Return (2003), City of Life and Death (2009), and Happy Together (1997).

From Music Box films we get Ida (2014), Seraphine (2008), Viva Riva (2011), Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present (2012).

From Sony Pictures Classics, we get Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens) (2002), Persepolis (2007), Made in Dagenham (2010), 12 (2007), Frozen River (2008), Volver (2006), Waltz With Bashir (2008), The Triplets of Belleville (2003), Sunshine State (2002), Friends with Money (2006), Breakfast on Pluto (2005), House of Flying Daggers (2004), The Raid: Redemption (2012), and The Tango Lesson (1997).

Also notable are We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), Bicho de Sete Cabeças (2000), and many award-winning movies from the Middle East, Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, South and East Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Early film is represented in the collection with titles from Edison and Ford, The Battleship Potemkin, and other silent classics. An interesting micro-collection is the 13-title Pioneers of African-American Cinema.

Award-winning documentaries include The Sorrow and the Pity (1969), The Fog of War (2003), Call Me Kuchu (2012), Crumb (1994), Dogtown and Z-Boys (2002), Beirut Diaries (2006), 33 Days (2007), My Millennial Life (2016), Long Night’s Journey Into Day (2010), When the Bough Breaks (2001), Cinema Komunisto (2010), Happy Valley (2014), After Tiller (2013). Also present are Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (2016), New York: The Green Revolution (2013), (un)veiled: Muslim Women Talk About Hijab (2007), The Devil Came on Horseback (2007).

An older woman with white hair is outside a closed office door carrying a sign that says, "Kill the Xpressway Now!" A weary older man inside the office looks at the camera.


For best results, use a recent version of Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Firefox. Videos will not play in Safari, including Safari for iOS devices.

The Alexander Street platform is slow to load content. This is especially noticeable when going from the ProQuest interface to the video, and when playing videos off-campus. It does take time for the video to buffer initially before playing. Patience and consciously restraining from clicking pay off. We have been assured by the vendor that there are plans in motion to substantially improve the appearance and functionality of the Alexander Street platform. Until then, the best approach is to use the ProQuest layer for searching, and browse and view the videos on the Alexander Street platform. The quality of the content mitigates the imperfections of the user interface.


More from the Fall 2018 newsletter


Ellen Sexton

We now subscribe to the Docuseek2 Compete Collection of documentaries and social issues films. The content comes from Bullfrog Films, Icarus Films (including The Fanlight Collection and dGenerate Films), Kartemquin Films, MediaStorm, the National Film Board of Canada, Scorpion TV, Sincerely Films, Terra Nova Films, and KimStim. Bullfrog and Icarus were founded in the 1970s and together founded Docuseek to stream documentaries via college libraries.

To explore the content, browse the platform, or if you are looking for a specific title, use the Library’s OneSearch discovery tool. Worth noting are Addiction Incorporated (2014), Anthropocene (2016), The Yes Men Fix The World (2009), Xmas Without China (2013), Vulva 3.0 (2014), Mobutu, King of Zaire (2000), United States of Africa (2011), Talk to Me: Teens Speak Out About Sexual Violence (2006), The American Ruling Class (2007), and Death By Design (2017).  

To further whet your appetite, some titles are described below.

Two black men in a crowd carrying protest signs, one of which says We Got the News About how Dues Are Being (last word blocked from view)

Finally Got the News (2003): A documentary “about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, which was, ‘in many respects the most significant expression of black radical thought and activism in the 1960s.’ —Manning Marable, Prof. of History, Columbia Univ.” (Docuseek2 description).

The Great Flood (2013): Original footage of the Mississippi River Flood of 1927, with a wordless soundtrack of blues inspired music.

Brother Towns / Pueblos Hermanos (2010): “An uplifting story about Jupiter, Florida’s humane response to an influx of day laborers from Jacaltenango, Guatemala….Our story includes voices of those opposed to undocumented immigrants as well as advocates helping migrants who seek work and hope, whether documented or not” (Docuseek2 description).

Dust motes sparkle in the air in front of an empty doorway and a tree

Nostalgia for the Light (2011): “Director Patricio Guzman travels to Chile’s Atacama Desert where astronomers examine distant galaxies, archaeologists uncover traces of ancient civilizations, and women dig for the remains of disappeared relatives” (Docuseek2 description).

Milking the Rhino (2009): “The promise of community-based conservation in Africa” (Docuseek2 description).

Facing Death (2003): “A comprehensive look into the life and work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of the landmark On Death and Dying” (Docuseek2 description). 

How Happy Can You Be? (2005): “What is happiness? And how do we get more of it? Visiting leading figures in positive psychology and observing clinical experiments, this is a light-hearted but serious investigation” (Docuseek2 description).

Swim for the River (2006): A swimmer swims the Hudson River from its source in the Adirondacks all the way to New York Harbor, talking to people along the way about past and present pollution threats, including oil seeping into the Newtown Creek.


More from the Fall 2018 newsletter