A Select Survey of Criminal Justice Administration and Criminology Resources for Research, Reference, and Collection Development

By Wyatt, Neal | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

A Select Survey of Criminal Justice Administration and Criminology Resources for Research, Reference, and Collection Development


Wyatt, Neal, Reference & User Services Quarterly


This column illustrates the best of outcomes when colleagues assist one another in developing subject expertise and in building collections. As all of us in the collection development world know, crafting well-developed collections in subject-specific areas is a constant challenge. Taking up this challenge in a subject specialty you do not know well is, to put it lightly, a daunting prospect. When Rick Stoddart found himself in that position, he turned to Brett Spencer and Adrienne McPhaul for assistance. Spencer and McPhaul have almost ten years of criminal justice collection liaison experience between them, and both agreed to help Stoddart get up to speed on critical materials for his collection. The result of their collaboration was a list of core resources as well as several tables of comparisons between resources that can be used not only to build collections but also to quickly see the scope and capabilities of each relevant database and resource. As we are called upon to work more frequently in areas we do not know well, it can only be hoped that we will follow the model of Stoddart, Spencer, and McPhaul and work collaboratively to build both our collections and our expertise. As editor of "The Alert Collector," I hope that this space can serve not only as a place to publish the fruits of those collaborations but also to aid librarians in sharing their specialty subject knowledge with the widest range of colleagues.--Editor

The field of criminal justice administration/criminology (CJAC) plays a vital role in American society, and many colleges include CJAC departments. CJAC professors perform research that informs the nation's law enforcement policies, and their contributions are gaining increasing importance with the rise of terrorism, identity theft, and new cybercrimes. CJAC is also attracting more and more students because of the popularity of crime-fighting themes in American media (perhaps best epitomized by the various CSI television series) as well as the expanding job opportunities in the field. Accordingly, libraries should strive to provide relevant resources that meet the growing research and curricular needs of CJAC departments. This article presents a select list of current resources available to libraries in this subject area.

In defining the field, criminal justice concerns itself with the mechanisms and social forces that counter crime, while criminology typically relates to the theories of why people commit crime. (1) Criminal Justice and Criminology both fall under the general umbrella of the social sciences and most often specifically reside as a subdiscipline of sociology. Librarians serving CJAC patrons can thus consult general social sciences resources (as shown by the inclusion of the Sociological Abstracts database in this article) as well as CJAC-specific resources.

Fortunately, publishers are producing many excellent resources. Gale-InfoTrac (Cengage Learning), Cambridge (ProQuest), Ebscohost, and other publishers have created databases with full-text or abstract coverage strong enough to support research in most CJAC subject areas. In addition, the federal government collects a huge amount of CJAC data that it now makes available through free Web portals. Further, in recent years, many leading authors have published outstanding reference books that summarize the theory and practice of CJAC from sociological, legal, historical, and other perspectives. Librarians must be knowledgeable about these resources in order to tailor their collection and reference service to the interests of their campus clientele.

This overview of databases, websites, encyclopedias, journals, and book series is not meant to be a comprehensive list but only to provide a select survey for possible research and collection development purposes. The authors focused on generalized resources and took into account the size, currency, and scholarly value of the resources' contents and the usefulness of these resources in their own libraries. …

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A Select Survey of Criminal Justice Administration and Criminology Resources for Research, Reference, and Collection Development
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