School of Criminal Justice
Richard Irving, Subject Librarian
I. General Purpose
The University Libraries collection of Criminal Justice materials supports undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. level degree programs and faculty research. The School of Criminal Justice is academically unique in that it is structured around a problem rather than a discipline. It is also interdisciplinary, focusing on the "study of all aspects of crime and society's reaction to crime through law, police, prosecution, courts, correctional institutions, parole, probation and prevention problems."1 The major emphasis of study is research on crime measurement and causation, as well as research into questions of appropriate and effective methods of crime control in a democratic society. All types of crime and juvenile delinquency are the focus of study, and a total?systems approach is utilized to analyze, assess, and suggest changes in our crime control system. Particular emphasis is placed on looking at the many agencies which comprise criminal justice systems and the relationships between these systems and other facets of society. The curriculum stresses the integration of legal and social sciences approaches.
The School of Criminal Justice aims to offer rigorous and comprehensive doctoral and masters education at the highest possible level and undergraduate education sufficiently broad to fulfill the requirements of a liberal arts education and to prepare students for graduate and law Schools, conduct scholarship and research to enhance the understanding of social problems and their potential solutions, and provide public service rooted in research.
Organized research at the school is housed primarily at its Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center. During its thirty year history, the Hindelang Center has been at the forefront of criminal justice research and policy formation. Among its many accomplishments the center continues to produce on an annual basis the internationally acclaimed Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics. Other research initiatives include the Capital Punishment Research Initiative, Violence Research Group, Police Research Group, etc.
Within the department, faculty and program interests focus in the areas of:
Nature of Crime: studies crime as a social phenomenon, patterns of crime, causes of crime and delinquency, individual and societal criminological factors, and an analysis of attempts to measure the extent and distribution of crime.
Law and Social Control: studies the relationship of constitutional and criminal law and other social control mechanisms to social problems in a democracy.
Criminal Justice Process and Policy: focuses on the interrelationships among legislative, judicial, enforcement, prosecutorial, and correctional organizations in the administration of the criminal justice system and the relationship of the system and its components to society.
Planned Change: identifies strategies, skills, and principles for promoting individual, organizational, and community change.
The School offers graduate programs leading to the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. It also offers a dual master's degree program with the School of Social Welfare. There is an undergraduate major in criminal justice leading to the Bachelor of Arts.
II. Subject and Language Modifiers
Languages: The primary language of the Criminal Justice collection is English. Materials in other languages are acquired selectively.
Geographical areas: While North American, European and Australian materials are collected most intensively, materials treating other areas of the world are acquired at the discretion of the Criminal Justice Subject Librarian and by faculty request. For non-U.S. materials priority is placed on comparative studies and studies emphasizing research, theory, and methodology used in criminology.
Chronological periods: Primarily the last fifty years although historical materials are also acquired selectively.
III. Description of Materials Collected
Types of materials collected:
Curricular specific books, journals, public documents, and research and technical reports are the primary components of the library's collection in support of criminal justice. Emphasis is placed on primary sources of information, print and electronic, and the reference sources (e.g. indexes and abstracts mainly in electronic formats) that facilitate access to them. Most of the materials are housed at the Dewey Graduate Library, although electronic materials are available from outside the library.
Indexes, abstracts, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, etc. (in a variety of formats) that pertain to the study of criminal justice and that serve a reference function are housed in the reference area of the Dewey Graduate Library in accordance with the Reference Collection Policy. A description of criminal justice reference materials and links to key websites may be found on the University Libraries Criminal Justice homepage: http://library.albany.edu/subject/criminal_main.html.
Electronic access to criminal justice information and resources includes three important online databases: CRIMINAL JUSTICE ABSTRACTS for citations of books, reports, and journal articles, CRIMINAL JUSTICE PERIODICAL INDEX for articles (including many fulltext), and NCJRS ABSTRACTS from U.S. Department of Justice's National Criminal Justice Reference Service. (See description below.) Other databases of value to criminal justice students and researchers are PAIS International (public policy), SOCIOLOGICAL ABSTRACTS (sociology), and PsycINFO (psychology), LEXIS-NEXIS (law) and Westlaw (law). Other databases also provide access to most other pertinent literature of the social sciences and law.
NCJRS serves as an international clearinghouse and collects the latest findings in criminal justice research and makes them available to criminal justice policymakers, practitioners, academics, researchers, and students. The NCJRS ABSTRACTS database contains more than 125,000 document citations and abstracts for journal literature, books, government reports, congressional hearings, conference reports, commission studies, bibliographies, and statistical reports. Starting in 1996, thousands of fulltext reports and studies can be accessed via the database. The Dewey Graduate Library houses the NCJRS Microfiche Collection which includes the entire text of many of the references from the database from 1972-1996.
International, U.S. government, state, and local government documents are acquired. Many sources of government information can be accessed through the University Libraries Criminal Justice homepage (http://library.albany.edu/subject/criminal_main.html). U.S. government documents are also housed in the Government Publications area of the University Libraries. A very select number of documents are purchased for Dewey Graduate Library on a title by title basis at the discretion of the criminal justice and reference subject librarians and are cataloged and housed in Dewey Graduate Library.
The University maintains membership in the Inter?University Consortium for Political and Social Research, an extensive magnetic tape archive of raw survey data housed at the University of Michigan. Faculty and students in criminal justice may utilize ICPSR materials. At present the ICPSR materials are ordered and maintained by the Social Science Subject Librarian.
Types of Material Not Collected: The library does not normally collect textbooks or collections of previously published articles. Popular treatments are acquired very selectively.
IV. Subject and Collection Levels
Topics listed below pertain to the study of Criminal Justice and form core curricular specific areas for which the collection level is almost at the research level. According to the Research Libraries Group a research level collection is one that includes the major published source materials required for dissertation and independent research, including materials containing research reporting, new findings, scientific experimental results, and other information useful to researchers. It is intended to include all important reference works and a wide selection of specialized monographs, as well as a very extensive collection of journals and major indexing and abstracting services in the field. Pertinent foreign language materials are included. Older material is retained for historical research and actively preserved. A collection at this level supports doctoral and other original research.
Declining acquisition budgets and dramatically increased costs in serial subscriptions have made it difficult to maintain an on-site research level collection as defined above. No longer collected are some peripheral journals, newsletters, digests, and extensive foreign language materials. Increased access to fulltext electronic journals and other resources, interlibrary loan and coordinated collection development have in the case of criminal justice allowed the University Libraries to continue to support doctoral level research and original research in criminal justice. For example, Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw provide access to the fulltext of numerous law journals and other primary and secondary legal materials not owned by the University Libraries.
The following subject areas form the focus of the criminal justice collection:
Social science theory, methodology, research technology and statistical procedures.
Deviance, criminology, juvenile delinquency and youth crime, sociological and psychological aspects of imprisonment, women and crime.
Criminal law, sociology of law, punishment, jurisprudence and criminal justice, constitutional criminal procedure, law and social control, law of corrections, juvenile justice.
Criminal justice administration, probation and parole, incarceration, correctional facilities, prison communities, sentencing, policing, prosecution and adjudication, courts, and judicial administration.
Correctional intervention, community intervention, organizational change, criminal justice planning, criminal justice innovation and change, program evaluation.
V. Other Factors
The interdisciplinary nature of criminal justice necessitates a wide range of supporting materials. Relevant to the study of criminal justice are the collections in social welfare, sociology, psychology, public affairs, law, women's studies, various ethnic studies, management and public administration. For detailed descriptions to these collections refer to the respective collection development subject statements.
1School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (Homepage). (2003). Retrieved December 31, 2003, from http://www.albany.edu/scj/
M.J. Brustman 12/03