Free Library resources for term papers exploring the roots of the rage at the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Part 2: Book Resources

By Adam F. RSS Tue, December 2, 2014

[Editorial Note: This is the second of a six part series intended to demonstrate for teachers and students the use of special Free Library of Philadelphia resources for conducting research into issues raised by events in Ferguson, MO during the last 4 months of 2014. The series covers gathering background information, finding and acquiring books, finding and acquiring periodical literature, accessing newspaper records, utilizing primary sources, and finally adding interesting data and other materials in an appendix or elsewhere within the text of a paper.]

For the books from Part 1 of this series of posts that are not available at the Free Library, researchers should know that we do have a free service called Interlibrary Loan. After registering, any Philadelphian can join an international community of sharing that brings the majority of the world’s library collections within reach of anyone willing to ask using a short request form. When studying policing, ILL is a powerful reminder that the state and civil society can build institutions based on sharing rather than just coercion.

Although getting some of the books from the Opposing Viewpoints in Context bibliography from the last post would require using Interlibrary Loan, the Free Library has many other books to illuminate current events. One extremely influential title has been Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow : mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. As of writing, nearly every copy of the 2012 edition is checked out. Every copy of the 2010 edition is out, and there are significant wait lists for the ebook and audiobook. This is a good reminder to plan ahead when gathering books. Students can "place a hold" on a book and have it sent to a convenient library, when its their turn off the waitlist.

When we assign “subject headings” to a book like this, we do it with the intention to make it easier for readers to find other books on very similar topics. Clicking on each of the following subject headings for Alexander’s book yields a wealth of works exploring similar territory:

Discrimination in criminal justice administration  -- United States.    

Criminal justice, Administration of -- United States.    

African American prisoners -- United States.    

African American men -- Social conditions.    

Race discrimination -- United States.    

United States -- Race relations.    

Students studying early childhood education and teachers working with preschool and early elementary children should also know that the Free Library’s Children’s Librarians have assembled a bibliography of Picture Books about Social Justice. It’s even possible that a sophisticated research paper could look at some of these picture books as a kind of primary document for understanding how parents and caregivers might utilize storytelling as a way of building empathy or teaching understanding of complicated events in the news for young people.

[Editor: Up next: Gathering journals and other periodical literature]

*The photo accompanying this post comes from our archival Digital Library Collections. The Print and Pictures Collection at the Central Library holds the original. The opening of a new neighborhood library branch is always a joyous occasion for a community. Andorra or Greater Roxborough have long had a reputation as first choice communities for police, fire, and other civil servants to raise their families. One can't help but wonder if the photographer intended to highlight police officers, as members of the community, admiring the new addition to the neighborhood.

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