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Jay Bernstein
Associate Professor in the Library
Reader Services Librarian
Jay Bernstein


As a graduate student in anthropology, Jay Bernstein was told he would make a good librarian and was advised to consider library school. Yearning to become a “real” anthropologist and conduct fieldwork in an unexplored land, he did not heed that good advice until years later.  His interest in the organization of knowledge began while planning and carrying out a two year ethnographic study of traditional medical knowledge and reasoning, including concepts of illness and the body, among the Taman people, a group of 4,500 people living in the remote interior of Indonesian Borneo. He continued in this vein of research by investigating the organization and distribution of environmental and ethnobotanical knowledge concerning rainforests among the Dusun people in Brunei Darussalam.  In addition to many professional articles, he is the author of a book, Spirits Captured in Stone: Shamanism and Traditional Medicine Among the Taman of Borneo. As a librarian at Kingsborough, he coordinates the Interlibrary Loan program. He enjoys helping students and faculty members in taking full advantage of library resources and in formulating and developing their own research agendas and seeing them through to completion. His current research examines author impact and eminence as measured through bibliographic databases, multidisciplinary perspectives on the organization of information, the history of anthropology, and other topics. 


Bibliographic instruction


M.L.S. St. John’s University

M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

B.A., SUNY College at Purchase

College Teaching

Kingsborough Community College, 2004-present

SUNY College at Purchase, 1997

University of Kent at Canterbury, 1992-1995

Selected Publications and/or Other Resources

Bernstein, Jay H. (In press) “Folk concepts.”  In 21st Century Anthropology: A Reference Handbook, edited by H. James Birx.  Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Bernstein, Jay H. (2009a) “Nonknowledge: the bibliographical organization of ignorance, stupidity, error, and unreason: part two.” Knowledge Organization 36(4): 249-260.

Bernstein, Jay H. (2009b) “Nonknowledge: the bibliographical organization of ignorance, stupidity, error, and unreason: part one.” Knowledge Organization 36 (1): 17-29.

Bernstein, Jay H. (2007 “New York placenames in film titles.”  Names 55 (2): 139-166.

Bernstein, Jay H. (2006) “From the ubiquitous to the nonexistent: a demographic study of OCLC WorldCat.” Library Resources & Technical Services 50 (2):79-90.

Bernstein, Jay H. (2004) “Taman shamanism (Borneo).” In Shamanism: An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Cultures, edited by Mariko Namba Walter and Eva Jane Neumann Fridman, 842-847.  Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio.

Bernstein, Jay H. (2002) “First recipients of anthropological doctorates in the United States, 1891-1930.” American Anthropologist 104 (2): 551-564.  (Special centennial issue.)

Bernstein, Jay H. (1997a) Spirits Captured in Stone: Shamanism and Traditional Medicine among the Taman of Borneo.  Boulder, Colo. and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Bernstein, Jay H. (1997b) “The deculturation of the Brunei Dusun.”  In Indigenous Peoples and the State: Politics, Land, and Ethnicity in the Malayan Peninsula and Borneo, edited by Robert L. Winzeler, 159-179. Monograph 46.  New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies

Bernstein, Jay H., Roy Ellen, and Bantong Antaran (1997) “The use of plot surveys for the study of ethnobotanical knowledge: a Brunei Dusun example.” Journal of Ethnobiology 17 (1): 69-96.

Bernstein, Jay H. (1996) “Higher order categories in Brunei Dusun ethnobotany: the folk-classification of rainforest plants.” In Tropical Rainforest Research-- Current Issues: Proceedings of the Conference held in Bandar Seri Begawan, April 1993, edited by D.S. Edwards, W.E. Booth, and S.C. Choy, 435-450. Monographieae Biologicae 74. Dordrecht and Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Bernstein, Jay H. and Roy Ellen (1995 [Published in 2002]) “Licuala palms in Brunei Dusun ethnobotany.”   Brunei Museum Journal 10: 97-110.

Ellen, Roy, and Jay Bernstein (1994) “Urbs in rure: cultural transformation of the rainforest in modern Brunei.” Anthropology Today 10 (4): 16-19.

Bernstein, Jay H. (1993a) “Poisons and antidotes among the Taman of West Kalimantan, Indonesia.” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 149 (1): 3-21.

Bernstein, Jay (1993b) “The shaman’s destiny: symptoms, affliction, and the re-interpretation of illness among the Taman.” In The Seen and the Unseen: Shamanism, Mediumship, and Possession in Borneo, edited by Robert L. Winzeler, 171-206. Borneo Research Council Monograph Series, vol. 2. Williamsburg, Va.: Borneo Research Council.

Bernstein, Jay H. (1990) “The infusion of teachers from eastern Indonesia into West Kalimantan.” In Patterns of Migration in Southeast Asia, edited by Robert R. Reed, 182-190. Berkeley, Calif.: Centers for South and Southeast Asian Studies.

Bernstein, Jay H. (1985) “The perils of Laura Watson Benedict: a forgotten pioneer in anthropology.” Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 13 (3): 171-197.  Reprinted (1998) in Philippine Quarterly of Culture & Society 26 (3): 165-191. (Special Issue: Commemorating our first twenty-five years: Selected papers.)

Events and/or Key Dates

Research Interests


History and bibliography of anthropology

Traditional knowledge and belief systems, including shamanism

Multidisciplinary perspectives on the organization of information and knowledge

Name studies

Scholarly communication

Awards Recognition, Distinctions and Grants

National Institute of Mental Health, Individual National Research Service Award

International Doctoral Research Fellowship, Social Science Research Council

Sigma Xi

Marquis’s Who’s Who in America

PSC-CUNY Faculty Development Grant

Institutional Affiliations / Professional Societies

American Library Association

Association of College and Research Libraries

Association of Library Collections & Technical Services

Anthropology and Sociology Librarians Section, Community College Librarians Section

Association of College and Research Libraries

International Society for Knowledge Organization

Library Association of the City University of New York

Personal Interests




Related Faculty
Related Links

The Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom Hierarchy and its Antithesis. Paper presented at the North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization, Syracuse University, 2009.

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