Volume 17, Number 2   Spring 2006



American libraries have always been known for their innovation and creativity. Staying in tune with this tradition, the Sealy Library was one of the first in CUNY to start adding electronic editions of books to its collection. Having e-versions of the books is advantageous for the library: valuable shelf space can be saved, books cannot get lost or mutilated, readers can read the books without coming to the library. All you need to gain access to these books online is a valid John Jay College e-mail account.

Reading a book online is for some people a new experience. Many portions of the book (table of content, index) are linkable and readers can jump from one portion to another with a matter of a mouse click. One can also search for a word or phrase occurring within the text of the book. Most of the e-versions are mirror images of their printed counterparts, which eases the problem of reference or citation.

Some of the library electronic books are cataloged in the online catalog CUNY+: after clicking on the title of a book you will be prompted to the URL for the e-version. Others can be accessed through a specific collection.
These are some of the database collections that include full-text electronic books.

NetLibrary – a huge collection of books in a variety of subject areas. The majority accessible through the Library address the fields of law enforcement and sociology.

FORENSICNetbase – almost all titles in forensic sciences and related disciplines are published by the CRC Press.

Oxford Reference Online – over 100 dictionaries and other reference works from Oxford University Press.
Dissertation Abstracts – full-text of dissertations from North America and some European countries starting from 1997.

Current Research @ CUNY – full-text of CUNY dissertations for the last two years.

These are just some examples of the wonders provided by the library. For more information explore the description of all library electronic information databases at http://www.lib.jjay.cuny.edu/infosources/resources.cfm?letter=All or send an e-mail to a reference librarian at libref@jjay.cuny.edu

Maria Kiriakova



We recently acquired several thousand books from the estate of the late Howard Umansky, formerly of the History Department. Most of these titles are in the areas of American history, literature, and culture and reflect Howard’s many intellectual interests. The books are in the process of being processed and catalogued for the collection.



Finding journals that are possible conduits for one’s own research, or that are of potential value for browsing purposes, is not always the easiest matter. In the growing field of law and literature, two journals have emerged as leaders in the field: the Yale journal of law and the humanities (1988- ), and Law and literature (earlier entitled Cardozo studies in law and literature) 1989- . Both are available in the Library in hard copy. Both are also available full-text online: the first through Lexis-Nexis and the second through JSTOR and EBSCOhost Academic.

These leaders of the field aside, there a number of ways articles on one’s topic (or journals that may be suitable as publishers of one’s own work) may be found. The first of these is through Lexis-Nexis. This database covers a large range of sources and is all full-text. A number of the journals included in the “law reviews” subset of it do show some appreciation of the intersection between law and literature. When I searched for references to Bleak House (from “guided search,” I changed the range of searching to “all available dates”), I found six articles which mentioned the book in their titles. When I changed the field of search to identify articles which mentioned the book in their texts at least three times, I found 55. In HeinOnline, which covers law reviews going back to the mid-19th century, I identified ten articles mentioning the book in their titles and over one thousand in their texts. On bringing these last up in reverse chronological order, I found two articles from 1852 which mentioned Bleak House in passing as it was then being serialized in Household Words!

Other databases of interest to this sample search would, of course, include the MLA Bibliography. (In searching for Bleak House, I would probably qualify the search with the terms “law or legal,” to make the results manageable). Others might be Historical Abstracts, which includes a great deal of material relevant to literature. (This covers European history. Its companion, America: History and Life covers the Americas as a whole). The Essay and General Literature Index is useful for locating essays published in collections.

Identifying particular journals in the field, whether for browsing or as possible publishers, is not easy as the titles of these are not very accessible through standard subject searches in library catalogs. Apart from the two principal ones identified above, a few others come to mind:

  • Criminal Justice History. 1980-1994. Ref. HV 6001 C754. This annual is useful for its extensive literature reviews and its occasional articles on literary themes. An early volume, for example, includes a consideration of the real-life mutiny in the U.S. Navy on which Billy Budd was based. CJH was replaced by collections of essays grouped around particular themes and published irregularly. These can be located in the catalog under the series entry “Criminal Justice History.”
  • Law, Culture & the Humanities. 2005- . On order at John Jay. A new journal emphasizing theoretical approaches to “interpretation, identities and values, authority, obligation, speech, justice and power.”
  • Legal Studies Forum. 1985- . Per. K1 M3 (also available through EBSCOhost Academic). This journal at one time focused on legal education. It is now largely devoted to the humanities and its choice of articles is idiosyncratic. The last two issues focused on poetry by and about lawyers and the “true crime” writing of Albert Borowitz.
  • Law/Text/Culture. 1994- . Available in hard copy at the CUNY Law School and on Lexis-Nexis since 2000. “Examines the textual forms in which law circulates within cultures worldwide and the many texts and topics that law touches upon.”

Nancy Egan

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