Secret Societies: Revealed!

Secret societies have flourished for many centuries in many different cultures. Though some, like the Shriners, perform semi-public activities, not much is known about what goes on within them – that’s why they’re called ‘secret.’ This lack of knowledge has led the mysterious groups to captivate our cultural imagination, as unexplained coincidences and nefarious plots are attributed to them.

If you’ve watched The Good Shepherd, National Treasure, or read about the V.F.D in A Series of Unfortunate Events, then you’ve already been exposed to how fun and engrossing the idea of a sinister secret society can be. To help you find more things to enjoy in that vein, here’s a round-up of books that feature shadowy groups, conspiracy theories, and men in fezzes.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, conspiracy-wise, start with the Illuminatus! trilogy. Every weirdo theory out there is covered, and connected to the most secretest secret society of all – the Illuminati. There are lots of symbolic eyeballs, and you’ll be eyeballing your surroundings after reading it, especially that buck – what’s the deal with that spooky staring pyramid, anyway?

 The New Avengers: Illuminati by Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Reed, and Jim Cheung

This is a kinder, gentler Illuminati. Sort of. A gathering of well-known powerful Marvel comics characters are revealed as having manipulated several important events from behind the scenes. Their intentions are mostly good, but as with many tales of good versus evil, things get muddy, and what Professor Xavier, Tony Stark, and Doctor Strange (among others) resort to meet their goals may not always be so nice.

 The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin

Can you have a good secret society/conspiracy theory reading list without Nazis? No, you cannot. Nazis are the fallback conspiracy of literature at large. So, here is a book about secret Nazis hiding in South America and plotting to kill six aging men. Why do they want to kill these six men in particular? What are the connections between them and the exiled SS members? The writing has been described as ‘cinematic,’ which explains why there is a movie version.

The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White

The members of the secret society in this group want to save the world and make it a better place – but very slowly, over hundreds of years and multiple reincarnations. One could say they want to do so in increments. The plan seems to be progressing well, if at a glacial place, but then something goes wrong with the lovebirds who star in the story, and they go wrong rather quickly, as they often do.

Ritual America: Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society, a Visual Guide by Adam Parfrey

Most of the secret societies on this list are fictional, but as we mentioned before, there have been real ones throughout history. This book takes a comprehensive look at the secret fraternal societies of America in particular, describing their history, traditions, and influence. As indicated by the ‘visual guide’ part of the title, almost every page features reproductions of fraternal memorabilia, including many snapshots of men in aprons and silly hats.

Alright, we’re done conspiring to bring you fun things to read – for now. We’ll duck back behind our librarian curtain and let you take over – what are your favorite books or movies about secret societies? Let us know in the comments. Bonus points if you write it in code.

 

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The UGL Celebrates Black History Month

“I feel safe in the midst of my enemies, for the truth is all powerful and will prevail.” —Sojourner Truth

In 1976, Former President Gerald Ford made February the official month to celebrate Black history. President Ford urged American citizens to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Here at the UGL, we have compiled some books and movies that celebrate Black Americans and their struggles and accomplishments. For more information on Black History Month, be sure to visit the official government website.

“Staring at Zero” by Jimi Hendrix

“Starting at Zero” by Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix became an international icon after 4 years. He is known as one of the greatest guitars players there ever was. Hendrix was also known as a private person, but in this book, he is able to tell his own story.

“12 Years a Slave”

12 years a Slave. Directed by Steve McQueen

12 years a Slave. Directed by Steve McQueen

Based on true accounts, this film recalls the story of Solomon Northup, a free man of color. He is invited to a violin performance in Washington D.C, where he is kidnapped and sold as a slave. Northup suffers years of violence, abuse, and injustice. He was held captive for nearly 12 years and was soon reunited with his family. For the complete account by Solomon Northup, be sure to check out his book.

“Army of God: Joseph Kony’s War in Central Africa” by David Axe and Tim Hamilton

“Army of God” by David Axe and Tim Hamilton

The Kony2012 campaign was one that got a lot of national attention. This raised awareness, but also controversy. War correspondent, David Axe teamed up with Tim Hamilton to publish a graphic novel that explains who Kony is and the conflict that caught the attention of people all over the country.

“Song of Soloman” by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison, writer and winner of multiple awards brings us “Song of Solomon.” This story is about 4 generations of of black life in the United States. This story begins with Macon “Milkman” Dead III. The reader follows him from birth to adulthood. “Song of Soloman” raises questions on African-American identity and relationships with black and white members of the community.

“Zami, a new spelling of my name” by Audre Lorde

"Zami: A New Spelling of My Name" by Audre Lorde. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

“Zami: A New Spelling of My Name” by Audre Lorde. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

This is the 1982 autobiography of writer and poet, Audre Lorde. She is the daughter of Black West Indian parents. Growing up in Harlem, she is legally blind, but learns to read before starting school. This book details Lorde’s experiences with racism, lesbianism, and political issues.

“Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” by Barack Obama

“Dreams from my Father” written by current President, Barack Obama.

In 2009, Barack Obama made history by becoming the first black President of the United States. Before the presidency, Obama was a civil rights lawyer, former editor of the Harvard Law Review, and a community organizer. This book was published in 1995, right before Barack Obama was preparing for his campaign for the Illinois Senate. This book details his life in Hawaii, Indonesia, and his time at Harvard Law School.

Be sure to also check out our “A-Z Black Biography” on the UGL’s Pinterest Page.

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Valentine’s Day Hangover: Reader’s Advisory

You made it through Valentine’s Day and 3 bags of chocolate later, you are done. Whether  you had a date with your sweetheart or with your favorites, Ben and Jerry, you can rest assured that everyone is worn out and stress free. Let’s focus on the important things now, here at the UGL, we have a couple of recommendations to cure that Valentine’s Day hangover. From our great selection of movies, we have exactly what you need.

Austenland. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Austenland. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

One can never go wrong with a Jane Austen inspired movie like “Austenland.” Ms. Jane Hayes’ obsession with Jane Austen is, well, taking over her life and complicating her love life. She decides to journey to a Jane Austen inspired resort, where she meets interesting characters and two fine gentlemen. Will Ms. Hayes get her Mr. Darcy?

“Warm Bodies” for your zombie needs

For the zombie lover, “Warm Bodies” is a great combination of blood, guts, and romance. Set in a zombie epidemic, R and Julie form a relationship as chaos surrounds them. As R begins to become more human, he is the hope that the world needs.

Five-Year Engagement. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Five-Year Engagement. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Five Year Engagement” is a story of a happy couple who get engaged. Emily Blunt and funny man, Jason Segel are the happy couple of this story. Like all romantic comedies, they are happy with their quirky partners, but life happens. Five years engaged, but now who knows if they will make it down the aisle.

Dan in Real Life picture

Dan in Real Life

“Dan in Real Life” is a story of when boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy finds out that girl is dating his brother. Chaos happens and hilarity ensues. No matter what happens, it’s guaranteed to give you a good laugh. Starting Steve Carell and Dane Cook.

The Break Up image

The Break Up

Actress Jennifer Aniston brings us a classic, “The Break-Up.” Brooke and Gary’s relationship has taken a toll. After Brooke breaks up with Gary, none of them are willing to move out of their condo. Between the fighting and the screaming, Brooke and Gary do not know if their relationships is worth saving.

The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy

The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy

“The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy” depicts a group of friends who gather at the the Jack’s Broken Heart Restaurant. They can lean on each other as they live through gay life. As tragedy strikes, their friendships are tested.

What other movies do you plan on watching? Tell us in the comments below!

 

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Valentine’s Day: Blind Date with a Book

Love is in the air and Valentine’s Day is nearing, *swoon*. While this is mostly a holiday for couples to celebrate their love, single or not, it is also an excuse to stuff your face with chocolate or pizza (if it’s that kind of night). Whether you like Valentine’s Day or not, the UGL has the perfect blind date for you. Yes, it’s time for the “Blind Date with a Book.”

Who will you choose as your blind date? Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

Who will you choose as your blind date? Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

We have selected books, movies, and audio books for your blind date. This is how it works:

  • We wrapped the selected items using our great wrapping skills
  • Like a dating profile, the cover has a picture, likes, dislikes, and their idea of a perfect date
  • You can use this information to select your perfect match!
Find your perfect match. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

Find your perfect match. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

You can have as many dates as you’d like. After you have selected your dates, take the items to the circulation desk and check them out. When you get home, get some coffee, unwrap your blind date, and prepare to fall in love. What are your favorite books to read or movies to watch around Valentine’s Day? Share them with us in the comments below.

 

 

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Read.Watch.Play: The winners

Don’t let the cold weather get you down – February is an awesome time to curl up with a nice warm book, watch a movie with friends, or play a fun video game from the UGL collection.  And who better to recommend one than the winners of our READ.WATCH.PLAY contest from last Fall.

We promised to make then library-famous, and now we have. Please join us in congratulating the first three of our six winners – Grant Wilson, Liz Armstrong, and Maggie Wolfe, who can’t wait to share some of their favorites with you.  Check out their amazing choices below, photographed in our highly literary video production studio, and look for their posters on the upper level of the UGL.

First up, we have Liz Armstrong, who chose Pride and Prejudice, the movie (the Keira Knightley version).  With Valentine’s Day coming up, take a break to remind yourself how love can overcome any obstacle

Watch! with Liz Armstrong. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

Watch! with Liz Armstrong. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

Next, we have Grant Wilson who recommends “Unwind” by Neal Shusterman.  Set in a dystopian future, this science fiction novel brings you action, excitement, and plot twists framing a thoughtful discussion of a hugely-relevant social issue.

 

Read! with Grant Wilson. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

Read! with Grant Wilson. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

 

And third, we have Ms. Maggie Wolfe, who shares a favorite of hers, “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare. Find inspiration in the words of the immortal bard, which still feel connect to the lives of college students today.  When things feel out of your hands, Maggie encourages us to think of Prospero, entreating “let your indulgences set me free.”

Read! with Maggie Wolfe. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library.

Read! with Maggie Wolfe. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library.

A photo shoot and your very own poster sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Be on the lookout for our next Read.Watch.Play contest, and start planning your own poster now.

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UGL 101: New Loanable Technology

We’re one week into the new semester and you’re probably surprised that your professor has assigned projects (or not, if you’re lucky). The UGL’s Loanable Technology desk has all kinds of items to help you out. Yes, at your disposable, you have digital cameras, sound recorders, tripods, and other exciting things. This semester, we have a couple of new items.

Logitech Speakers. Courtesy of UGL Media Commons

Logitech Speakers. Courtesy of UGL Media Commons

Logitech Speakers are a great tool for a presentation or for your own personal use. You now have the convenience to carry around these speakers in your backpack.

Portable Canon Scanner. Photo Courtesy of UGL Media Commons

Portable Canon Scanner. Photo Courtesy of UGL Media Commons

Be sure to check out our portable, yes, portable Canon scanners. Now you have the convenience of a scanner at your fingertips. Guess what is also great? These scanners are compatible with both Mac and PC.

Nintendo 3DS. Photo courtesy of UGL Media Commons

Nintendo 3DS XL. Photo courtesy of UGL Media Commons

The Nintendo 3DS XL handheld gaming consoles are another treat that we have. Everyone needs a little study break, so why not have fun with this cool new item?

Wii U. Photo Courtesy of The Conmunity via Flirckr Commons

Wii U. Photo Courtesy of The Conmunity via Flickr Commons

Last, but certainly not least, we have the new Wii U and PS4 for our gaming center. When you imaged libraries, this isn’t what you had in mind, was it? These consoles are great for when you’re on the go. These consoles will be located in the gaming area of the UGL (right next to the Media Commons).

If you are curious about the loanable technology available, drop by the Loanable Technology desk to ask more questions. What’s your favorite technology item and why? Tell us in the comments below!

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Welcome back UGL’ers!

It’s great to be back at UIUC, is it not? We’ve all missed our friends and our study sessions at the UGL. It’s a new year, and of course, a new semester. Most of you are familiar with the Undergraduate Library (spending those late nights working on a paper due the next day), but for those of you who are new, our library has a lot to offer you.

Undergraduate Library. Photo Courtesy of Kosheahan via Flickr Commons.

Undergraduate Library. Photo Courtesy of Kosheahan via Flickr Commons.

For research help, check out the Consultation Corner on the upper level. Here you will find a desk with librarians who will help you with your research needs. You will also find the Writers Workshop, if you need help with writing an essay and the Partners Desk.

We have a loanable technology desk, right around the corner of the circulation desk (located on the upper level). Loanable technology such as laptops, iPhone chargers, cameras, sound recorders, and much more, are available for checkout. So, if you need some equipment for a class project, or want to work on your photography skills, come to the loanable technology desk!

The Undergraduate Library has two levels, the upper level and the lower level. The upper level is where the circulation desk is located, as well as computers and the printing stations. This is also the level that has study group rooms. If you have a group project and need a space, be sure to make your reservation on DIBS.

The lower level is the quiet level, so if you need a space where you need silence, the lower level is where it’s at. This level also has our media collection. Be sure to check out our DVD selection, music, and books on CD.

We have a lot to offer, so if you have any questions, ask! We’re here to help you succeed. What are you looking forward to the most this semester? Leave a comment below.

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Winter Break Hours

They’re done, finals are done. This, of course, means you’re free to relax and spend your winter break as you see fit. We would like to remind you that the UGL is open for some of winter break. Come on in and get some DVD’s to keep you entertained or check out a book to keep you busy.

Have a great winter! Photo courtesy of Rachel Kramer via Flickr Media Commons

Have a great winter! Photo courtesy of Rachel Kramer via Flickr Media Commons

The hours from December 20th-January 18th are:

-From Monday to Friday, we are open 8:30AM-5PM.

-We are closed December 24th-January 4th (2015!)

-From then, the hours are as above, 8:30AM-5PM.

From the UGL, we wish you the best holiday wishes for you and your family and a great New Years.

 

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Your tools for finals

Finals week is officially here. Yes, it’s a stressful time, but here at the UGL, we like to make your life easier. The UGL has a lot of resources to offer. These tools can make your life so much easier. So, sit back while we share all of the cool things at the UGL.

Are you in need of a calculator or flashdrive? Forgot them at home? No worries, come by the Loanable Technology desk at the UGL. This desk is located around the corner of the circulation desk on the upper level of the UGL. We have macbook chargers, iPhone charges, Chromebook laptops, and much for students to check out.

Loanable Technology at the UGL. Photo courtesy of the UGL Media Commons

Loanable Technology at the UGL. Photo courtesy of the UGL Media Commons

If you have any group projects to finish, be sure to reserve a group room, available on the upper level of the UGL. Looking to book for one person or five? Doesn’t matter, our group room reservation system, DIBS, is here to help.

Students working in a group room. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library.

Students working in a group room. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library.

If you need a bit of information on a certain topic, but don’t know where to start, subject guides are your friends. Browse the subject guides available on hundreds of topics like computer crime and hacking, student loan debt, women in the media, and much more.

If you don’t know how to…don’t worry, the UGL has the How Do I? pages. Inside this fabulous resource, we have pages on how to get started on your research, finding sources, evaluating sources, citing sources, and class pages. (CMN 101/111, ESL 112/115, and LAS 100).

Do you have a paper that’s due soon? Need someone to take a look over it? The Writers Workshop is here to help. They are located in the consultation corner on the upper level of the UGL. Be sure to go to them with all your writing needs.

The Media Commons gaming center. Photo courtesy of the UGL Media Commons

The Media Commons gaming center. Photo courtesy of the UGL Media Commons

Finals are stressful and take a lot out of you. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself. That can be by eating healthy, exercising, or taking breaks in between studying. The UGL Media Commons has a gaming center. Come on over and play some video games with your friends. If video games aren’t your thing, go downstairs and check out the media collection. Treat yourself after finals by binge watching Dexter or Gilmore Girls, whatever floats your boat.

Good luck with finals and as always, the UGL is rooting for you.

 

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Your UGL guide to Surviving Finals

To quote the popular “Poltergeist” movie, “They’re here….” Yes, finals have arrived. This is the time of year where stress levels are at an all time high and it’s a struggle to get a hold of your emotions. Have no fear, grab your laptop and textbooks and sit down, because the UGL is here to help.

Before we get to the study tips, here are a couple of things to keep in mind. Starting on December 11th (this Thursday), the UGL will be open 24 hours, until December 19th (we’ll close at 7 PM on this day). Take advantage of this time to come on over and get all your studying done in a quiet environment.

Finals Week. We've all been there. Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Fairchild via Flickr Commons

Finals Week. We’ve all been there. Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Fairchild via Flickr Commons

Be on the lookout for Midnight Madness. What is Midnight Madness you might ask? The Writer’s Workshop (located on the upper level of the UGL) will have people to help you with all your citations needs, essay revisions, graduate school statements, and tidying up that resume. This will take place on December 11th, from 8 PM to midnight. All consultations will take place in room 251 of the UGL.

Now, here are your tips for surviving finals 2014:

1. Create a study guide. This study guide should have an outline of all the projects that need to get done, all the papers that you need to finish, and all the classes you need to study for. Outline all the important points that you need to focus on and anything that might be helpful.

2. Ask for help! Remember, if you need help understanding a concept or have questions, ask your professor or TA. It’s better to ask than to wonder if something is correct. Be sure to go to office hours and any review sessions.

3. Create a schedule. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so be sure to manage your time. Write down a schedule and what classes you’ll study for those dates.

4. Practice by quizzing yourself. Are you learning the material? Is there anything you need work on? Doing your own mini quizzes will help you find out.

5. Get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated. What good is all this studying if you’re not taking care of yourself? If you’re tired, take a study break, drink some water, or go do an activity you enjoy. This will help you keep focused on your goals and the exams.

Are there any tips you use during finals? Let us know in the comments below. Finally, the folks here at the UGL wish you the best of luck. Remember, we’re here to help, so if you have any questions, be sure to ask.

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