Library News Blog

BrightSpace logo

This blog post explores the upcoming learning management transition. In the ever-evolving landscape of education and professional development, adaptability is key. With the BrightSpace transition on the horizon, the library is proactively advertising helpful faculty training resources. By advertising training resources, we aim to help ensure that the John Jay community stays well-informed and ready to embrace the migration ahead.

While there is an abundance of training materials available, it's crucial not to become overwhelmed. John Jay’s LMS team and the library are united in our mission to help you navigate the abundance of BrightSpace training materials. Below are some selected resources.

First steps:

Training materials:

While the library won't offer dedicated BrightSpace training, rest assured that our team is staying well-informed about all things related to online learning. Please bookmark this blog post and check back regularly, as updates will be made as we approach the launch of BrightSpace. 

The Library also wants to shine a spotlight on the outstanding work of John Jay’s LMS team, Helen Keier, Caroline Peppers, and Nicole DeBonet. Their tireless dedication has been instrumental in making this migration a reality!

--Kate Cauley


books stacked on table in library

Join us this spring semester in meeting with John Jay faculty authors as they discuss the books they've published. You'll get to hear about their research process, to ask questions and to be inspired for your own research journeys. All events are during Community Hour (1:40-3pm) in the Library Classroom (2nd floor of library). Space is limited! To register, visit the URL for the individual event below.

February 5: Edward Paulino (History) will discuss The Border of Lights Reader: Bearing Witness to Genocide in the Dominican Republic ~ RSVP:

February 27: Hyunhee Park (History) will discuss Soju: A Global History ~ RSVP:

March 6: Gloria Browne-Marshall (Criminal Justice) will discuss She Took Justice: The Black Woman, Law, and Power – 1619 to 1969 ~ RSVP:

March 18: Maria Julia Rossi (Modern Languages) will discuss Ficciones de emancipación. Los sirvientes literarios de Silvina Ocampo, Elena Garro y Clarice Lispector ~ RSVP:

April 17: Samantha Majic (Political Science and author of Lights, Camera, Feminism? Celebrities and Anti-trafficking Politics) will present “Research Fraud: Tales from a work in progress” ~ RSVP:

May 2: Richard Ocejo (Sociology) will discuss Sixty Miles Upriver: Gentrification and Race in a Small American City ~ RSVP:

Questions? Contact Kathleen Collins


Jocelyn dressed as Jesse from Toy Story

Hello, John Jay College of Criminal Justice Community!

I am the new Information Literacy Librarian in the Library, and I am really excited to be here! As a native New Yorker and raised by resilient Dominican parents, it is empowering to see myself represented in the diverse student body at John Jay. I began my career at the New York Public Library as supporting staff advancing to supervising librarian after completing a Master of Science in library and information science. For the past thirteen years, I have served New Jersey City University (NCJU) as Special Projects Librarian and Information Literacy Coordinator, rising to Head of Periodicals, Media, and Government Documents. During my tenure at NJCU, I completed a Master of Arts in educational psychology which prepared me to teach introduction and research level undergraduate psychology courses. To further my educational aspirations, I am pursuing doctoral studies at St. John’s University and my dissertation focus is on culturally responsive teaching approaches in library instruction. While new to John Jay, my CUNY origins commenced over a decade ago as a non-teaching adjunct reference librarian at the A. Philip Randolph Memorial Library at Borough of Manhattan Community College. I look forward to seeing many of you in the Library.


Ellen Belcher was selected as a scholar to the two-year (2023-2024) NEH Institute for Networking Archaeological Data and Communities (NADAC). She also presented a paper “Masking the Halaf: Imagery of Transformation and Mutability” to the 13th International Congress of Archaeology in the Ancient Near East (ICAANE) in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 22. Ellen and Karina Croucher published a chapter “Daily Negotiations with Materiality: Re–Assembling Halaf Ornamentation” which appears in Style and Society in the Prehistory of West Asia: Essays in Honour of Olivier P. Nieuwenhuyse.

Adjunct Open Educational Resources Librarian Bruce Shenitz received the Certificate in Open Education Librarianship after completing the Open Education Network’s seven-month long course.

Library faculty made a strong showing at the Fall 2023 Faculty Development Day whose theme was “Finding Balance, Focus, and Connections: Practical Partnerships with Gen Z and the Multifaceted Library.” Marta Bladek
(with NancyYang) presented “Get the Tea on Gen Z: Who Are They, What They Know, and What They Need.” Kate Cauley (with Holly Davenport, Ritu Boswell, Helen Keier) presented “Supporting Online Teaching and Learning: Where instructional design, the learning management system, student support and library resources converge.”
Bruce Shenitz (with Michael Schoch) presented“Open Educational Resources (OER): More Than Just Free Stuff, A Tool for Opening Up StudentInquiry.” Michele Echols (with Guido Giordano, Ariana Caragliano, Maria Cipriani, Shweta Jain, and Adam Wandt) presented “Use and Abuse? ofAI: Faculty Adventures with ChatGPT.” Marta Bladek and Kathleen Collins (with JenniferDobbins) presented “Why It Matters: AcademicIntegrity in the Education for Justice.” Joy Dunkley (with Enrique Chávez-Arvizo and Denise Thompson) presented “Gen Z Success, Critical Thinking, and the Library.” Ellen Sexton (with Paul Narkunas) presented “Dr. Strangelove: Developing Student Visual Literacies in the Digital Age by Using Films, and How the Library Can Help.”

Maureen Richards has retired after 11 years of service, starting as a graduate school intern in 2012.


Books on Shlef with weeding slips

The idea that discarding books is part of a librarian’s job may seem anathema to some people, but weeding a collection is not unlike tending a garden — you need to trim back old growth to make room for the new. Books are weeded for a number of reasons: poor condition, lack of use, or outdated information. By removing these less useful and less used items, we make room for new acquisitions and for other uses of space. There are currently active weeding projects in the Library’s Reference Law section and the general collection.

The first step of the process takes place in the stacks. This multi-step process is carried out by a team comprised of library faculty, Technical services professionals, and College Assistants. Every single book on the shelves is evaluated. Based on age, condition, checkout date, and the surrounding collection, the Collection Development Librarian makes a preliminary recommendation. Books to keep are flagged with colored paper slips. If, as a patron, you see a section of books in the stacks that has a lot of paper slips, that means we are either actively weeding the section, or have recently weeded the section and shifted the books that we want to keep.

After the Collection Development Librarian has made her first pass through a section, books that may be deaccessioned are brought back to Technical Services, where other librarians involved in the weeding project take another look at them before making a final decision. We look at various factors when considering whether to retain a book.

In some cases, a book is deaccessioned and discarded because it is in poor condition and beyond repair. Water damage, broken binding, and paper deterioration are among the types of damage considered. In some cases, we may want to keep a book in our collection, but the condition is unacceptable for circulating. This happens particularly with books that have seen a lot of use. With these books, we usually try to see if we can order a physical replacement copy or an ebook version so that tinformation will still be accessible to patrons.

Stamped checkout and return dates in the back of each book are especially helpful inassessing use at the earliest stage. Whileanalog recordkeeping like this might seem old-fashioned, it allows us to see how recently and how frequently an item has circulated. Once a book that we are considering for discard is inTechnical Services, we can look at more detailed circulation statistics in the online catalog. Books with recent and/or numerous checkouts are much more likely to be retained as part of the collection.

The process of weeding also helps to make us aware of where our collection may be outdated or lacking. As a section is weeded, we may notice that the collection does not include as many new works on a given subject, and that can guide future acquisitions. Age by itself is not necessarily a mark against keeping a book. In some cases, works may be outdated in their content but still hold some historical interest for a contemporary perspective on the era in which they were written. In others, older works may be foundational texts to which the later corpus of scholarly work responds and builds on. The standards for currency also vary by discipline. 

Availability within the wider CUNY system or in electronic format is another factor to consider making decisions. Even if a book has notcirculated in a few years, if the information stillseems relevant or we have few otherresources covering the topic, I will sometimesrecommend that we retain it if there are noother copies in another CUNY library and it isnot available as an ebook or via open access. Conversely, if I am on the fence about whether to keep a book and there are numerous other copies available within CUNY or we have another book version available, I am more likely to discard it. The key consideration is whether, by discarding a book, I am making potentially useful information inaccessible. We want to facilitate access to information, not add more barriers.

The College’s focus on criminal justice also informs weeding decisions. Because of the specialized nature of our collection, we serve a community of external researchers in add it onto our primary user base of students and faculty. In a few cases, I have chosen to retain a book or report that it has rarely circulated simply because it is difficult to find elsewhere and pertains to criminal justice. In these cases, I will sometimes look outside the CUNY system to see where other copies are available. To do this, I consult OCLC’s WorldCat, which collects information from the catalogs of member libraries to show where a given work is available. Some of our monographs on international law are held by few other libraries in the United States, and those are worth keeping for research interest.

The weeding process is long, complex, and ongoing, but ultimately it serves to improve the entire collection.

--Ellis Ging

View the full newsletter here


Michael Schwartz was an award-winning New York City photojournalist born in the Bronx in 1944. His work appeared regularly in the New York Daily News and the New York Post. He photographed police officers working in the Bronx, the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 and the aftermath, and children with guns on the streets of Belfast during the Northern Irish Troubles. Boston College and the Brooklyn Museum are now the custodians of his Irish photos and the Library of Congress has his work on 9/11. This past summer, his colleague and friend, videographer Ardina Seward, and his sister Sue Ashley generously donated his Bronxpolicing photos and some 9/11 prints to the Library’s special collections. 

Schwartz got close to his subjects, showing officers working the streets in plain clothes and in uniform. He shows us an officer at the foot of a fire escape reaching for a crying child dangling from the hand of a firefighter. We see officers huddled behind a van taking cover. A man perched on the edge of a roof. A plainclothes officer pointing a gun at a car. People lying on the ground beside a car. Schwartz’s photos capture and hold moments of great tension; the strain is palpable. These photos speak to us across decades, recording law enforcement activities in the 1980s before every passerby and participant held cameras. It is a striking collection, and we are grateful to Ms.Seward and Mrs. Ashley for choosing our archives as their forever home.

To make an appointment to see this or any other of our Special Collections, email

--Ellen Sexton 


Evan Mandery holding his book

This Fall, the library has a new event series: Library Author Talks. We invite John Jay faculty authors to discuss their research process in writing their books. We welcome students, faculty and staff to listen and engage in aQ&A after each session. The purpose is to highlight the unique research conducted by our faculty as well as to inspire others in their research journeys. In this inaugural semester, we have already held two, well-attended and lively sessions. Professor Amy Adamczyk (Sociology) talked about her book Handing Down the Faith: How ParentsPass Their Religion on to the Next Generation and Professors Shonna Trinch and Edward Snajdr (Anthropology)shared the process of writing their book What the Signs Say: Language, Gentrification, and Place-Making in Brooklyn. In November, we will hear from Professor Mark McBeth (English) about his book Queer Literacies: Discourses &Discontents and Professor Ben Lapidus (Art and Music) about New York and the International Sound of Latin Music,1940-1990. In December, we heard from Professor Evan Mandery (Criminal Justice), author of Poison Ivy: How EliteColleges Divide Us. We have a full line-up ready for the Spring semester, too. The event takes place in the library classroom (2nd floor, Lloyd Sealy Library) during community hour and due to limited seating, registration is required. To register and/or learn more about the authors visit the library website. Contact Kathleen Collins( with any questions about the series. 

If you are a John Jay faculty member who has published a book, please let Collection Development Librarian, Professor Maria Kiriakova (, know about it. 

--Kathleen Collins

View full newsletter here


Spring is the season traditionally associated with new life, but in academia new growth oftencomes in Fall. We are celebrating our new faculty and would like to introduce you to lecturer JoyDunkley, assistant professor Jocelyn Castillo and substitute professor Ignacio Sanchez. Many of usbecome librarians because we love books. To help you get to know them, I asked each new facultymember to write something about the books currently engaging them. 

Professor Dunkley has been with us for a while on a substitute line, and we are happy that shechose to apply for our lecturer position last year and plans to stay with us. She is a valued memberof our reference staff, responsible for book circulation and for training our college assistants whoyou see at the desk and shelving in the stacks. Joy is also working with the Open EducationalResources project team. Professor Dunkley’s favorite book is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.Recently she read Zebratown: The True Story of a Black Ex-con and a White Single Mother in Small-townAmerica by Greg Donaldson. Her preferred guilty reading pleasure genres are true crime, socialjustice, and politics. Her aspirational reading -those books you intend to read but haven’t quitegotten round to yet – include Equal Justice under Law: An autobiography by Constance Baker Motleyand The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School by Shamus Khan. Professor Dunkley looksforward to reading A Trial by Jury by D. Graham Burnett and The Privileged Poor: How Elite CollegesAre Failing Disadvantaged Students by A.A. Jack. 

Ignacio Sanchez is our new electronic resources librarian, taking over from Maureen Richards whois easing in to a well-deserved retirement. Professor Sanchez ensures smooth access to databasesand electronic content for our community, on campus or off. He brings valuable experience fromColumbia, Purdue, and most recently, the Mina Rees Library at the Graduate Center. He enjoysreading the magical realism genre the most, and his favorite author is Isabel Allende. He justfinished a captivating story by Sofía Segovia, titled El Murmullo de las Abejas or The Murmur of Bees,which beautifully blends magic and history.

Jocelyn Castillo comes to us from New Jersey City University, and will be leading our informationliteracy program. Please see page … She recently read What Would Frida Do? by Arianna Davis andlooks forward to reading Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong.

For one of our faculty, a new life awaits in Washington. We say farewell to substitute professor EllisGing who has been enticed away by the Library of Congress to acquire and catalog materials fromSouth America, where his language proficiency and translation skills will be invaluable. Ellis hasbeen working with Professor Maria Kiriakova on rejuvenating our book collections in the stacks.From Professor Ging: I’m looking forward to reading Penance by Eliza Clark. Over the past fewyears, following the rising tide of interest in true crime media, a number of novels have beenreleased that engage directly with tropes and formats specific to the genre. (Chasing theBoogeyman by Richard Chizmar is the first to come to mind for me, because of its potentautofictional angle.) I’m particularly interested in what Clark’s take on true crime through fictionwill be — as a younger author, and a woman, she is closer in perspective to the real or perceivedaudience of a lot of recent true crime media. 

--- Ellen Sexton 

View the full newsletter here


Stack of books on a desk

Join us in meeting with John Jay faculty authors as they discuss the books they've published. You'll get to hear about their research process, to ask questions, and to be inspired for your own research journeys.

All events are during Community Hour (1:40 pm -3 pm) in the Library Classroom (2nd floor of the library).
Space is limited!

To register, visit the URL for the individual event below.

September 21: Amy Adamczyk (Sociology), author of Handing Down the Faith: How Parents Pass Their Religion on to the Next Generation~ RSVP

October 26: Shonna Trinch and Edward Snajdr (Anthropology), authors of What the Signs Say: Language, Gentrification, and Place-Making in Brooklyn ~ RSVP

November 9: Mark McBeth (English), author of Queer Literacies: Discourses & Discontents ~ RSVP

November 14: Ben Lapidus (Art & Music), author of New York and the International Sound of Latin Music, 1940-1990 ~ RSVP

December 5: Evan Mandery (Criminal Justice), author of Poison Ivy: How Elite Colleges Divide Us ~ RSVP

Questions? Contact Kathleen Collins


Screenshot of the ChatGPT welcome page

Is the integration of large language learning model AI into search engines going to herald as massive a change for knowledge organization and discovery as Mosaic did in 1993? I spent some time with the LLM-powered chat bot ChatGPT to try to get a sense of what we are facing, at the end of which I am not much wiser though I am persuaded it can generate a decent haiku.

I gained a ChatGPT account in return for an email address and phone number. I started asking questions about work-related tasks. It gave me interview questions that were bland arrangements of buzzwords but not that different from what an uninspired search committee might come up with on a dull Monday morning. As I watched the sentences rolling out, I had a strong urge to take off for lunch instead of reflecting on our library’s strengths and needs and candidates’ resumes and how to best elicit a meaningful conversation during an interview. A tempting dystopian next step could be to let ChatGPT take care of the entire recruitment process - compose our advertisement copy, scan resumes, conduct interviews and suggest a lead candidate for us. A cynic might suspect that much of that may already be happening in corporate searches.

Using ChatGPT feels exhilarating, despite the dullness of the text it generated in response to my prompts. I asked about the future of academic libraries, and it dutifully composed entirely predictable bullet points. As for the future of search, it wrote that it would involve personalized results and 24/7 availability; has ChatGPT not yet been told about Google? I got the most joy from demanding particular poetic forms; the sonnets were painful, but the haikus were satisfying

On verifying citations:

Citations verified, Sources checked with utmost care, Accurate research.

On information literacy:

To navigate life, We must learn to seek, find, and Judge information.

On academic libraries:

A haven of books, Silent halls and endless tomes, Knowledge waits within.

It broke down when I asked for a haiku about busy libraries serving Hispanic students.

Screenshot of ChatGPT unable to provide a response

Search engines are introducing language learning model-powered search – DuckDuckGo has DuckAssist that harvests and delivers content from a relatively small collection of texts, including Wikipedia. Google has released Bard. Bing has, well, new Bing. We have been teaching students to include in their critical assessment of web-sources consideration of elements of the website itself and what it reveals about the author, currency, etc. Other methods are needed to assess information extracted from unknown websites; CRAAP and SIFT evaluation methods are not enough. How can we assess information when the source is hidden? When we cannot know who created the information nor deduce for what purpose?

If a searcher’s satisficing threshold is low, there will be no incentive to go further than the AI-informed search engine result; that’s fine when we want to know how long it takes to soft-boil an egg but poses problems for higher stakes topics.

This is where the traditional gatekeeping function of libraries can help once again. Libraries have tools to aid the discovery of and provide access to high-quality, original, authoritative, and evidence-based content. Libraries will find uses for ChatGPT: its ability to construct coherent texts can help compose rough first drafts of technical reports, executive summaries and abstracts, resumes, and cover letters focusing on specific job descriptions. Its chatbot conversational abilities could be harnessed to, e.g., replace a frequently asked questions page. But literary & scientific works remain human creations, and our libraries will continue to collect and share those works.

NYC Board of Education has banned ChatGPT. Some colleges have incorporated ChatGPT prohibitions into their plagiarism policies. Some instructors are experimenting with using ChatGPT in the classroom to enhance learning.

We need to figure out when composing text using ChatGPT may be helpful and appropriate and guide our students appropriately. Of course, they should know not to cheat themselves out of an education by plagiarizing. We should teach the importance of evidence-based policies & practices and encourage the study of tools of persuasion in contemporary and historical contexts. The ability of ChatGPT to generate search engine optimized (SEO) blocks of text makes it a powerful tool for generating propaganda and marketing content; information literacy skills will be vital. Even commercial search engines will continue to be challenged to prioritize meaningful results as chatbot-generated sites heavy in SEO keywords and light on the content rise to the top of their lists.

I turned to Chat GPT for advice on the future of libraries. It told me, “academic libraries provide a range of resources, services, and support that are not available elsewhere, and are essential to the research and learning process. While the internet has certainly changed the way we access and consume information, it has not made libraries obsolete.” I don’t disagree, but it misses the insights that poets bring.

New eyes each year... by Phillip Larkin. (1979).

New eyes each year
Find old books here,
And new books, too,
Old eyes renew;
So youth and age
Like ink and page
In this house join,
Minting new coin.

--Ellen Sexton