Updated Hours and Farewell from the UGL

BREAKING: By popular demand, The UGL will remain open an additional day this semester to allow folks to visit over graduation weekend! We will open the upper level of the UGL Saturday, May 14th from 1-4 pm for anyone who would like to visit the building one last time. No services will be provided at that time. The UGL will close its doors for the last time at 4 pm that day.Aerial View of Undergraduate Library

The UGL would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the students, alumni, student assistants, graduate assistants, staff, faculty, community members, and visitors from near and from far that have contributed to making the UGL the place that it is. We look forward to continuing to serve you and fostering the spirit of community you’ve come to know and love in the UGL in our new spaces. From services and events to study spaces…we’re still here for you: http://publish.illinois.edu/undergradlibrary/2022/04/15/exciting-changes-coming-soon/

If you’d like to stay up to date on all the latest news, you can now follow the library on our main social media accounts:


Written and Posted by: Kirsten

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More than a Building: Celebrating the Past, Present, and Future of the Undergraduate Library Experience

In 1949, The University of Illinois opened the first Undergraduate Library on campus in the Main Library. In 1969, the Undergraduate Library moved to its current home, an underground building affectionately known by students as “The UGL.” This year, the UGL will begin its transformation into the new Archives and Special Collections Facility and undergraduate library services will return home to the Main Library and other locations on campus where exciting updates are underway for the 2022-23 academic year.

Aerial View of Undergraduate Library

So join us on Reading Day, Thursday, May 5th from 3-8 pm as we celebrate the rich history of the undergraduate library experience, and look toward its future. Explore an exhibit, enjoy cake and punch, craft mementos, take Polaroids, play video games from our vintage gaming collection, and more!

Schedule of Events:

3pm-8pm: Undergraduate Library Exhibit
-Celebrate the over 75 years of an Undergraduate Library and over 50 years in its current building with archival photos and stories. 

3pm-8pm: Coloring Pages
-Get creative and unwind with coloring pages on the Upper Level. Coloring pages and supplies will be provided!

4pm-5pm: Cake and Punch
-It’s not a party without a little cake and punch! Join us for a treat on the Upper Level.

hamster eats cake

5pm-8pm: Message Mural
-Brushes and paint will be provided, join us and leave your mark!

5pm-8pm: Buttons
-Make a button! Create a UGL memento button, or design your own.

5pm-8pm: Polaroids
-Grab a photo with the original selfie machine, the Polaroid. You get to keep your picture and with it a memory of the UGL!

hand holding a camera takes a photo, photo prints out

5pm-8pm: Vintage Gaming: RetroN
-See if you remember how to “pown” your friends in MarioKart with RetroN, a gaming console that lets you play Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis games! It’s on like Donkey Kong.

We hope to see you at our party and can’t wait to share the next steps of the Undergraduate Library experience with you in the years to come!

Written and Posted by: Maurissa

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An Earth Day Eco-Reading List

Spring is springing, the cherry trees are in blossom, and Earth Day and Arbor Day are just around the corner! If you’re looking to dive into some reading about the environment, nature, and climate change, the University Library has great fiction and non-fiction for you to check out.


1. Kim Stanley Robinson – The Ministry for the Future
Upward view of person in concrete pip
Kim Stanley Robinson has won dozens of awards in his long career as a sci-fi author, and it’s easy to see why when you pick up his 2020 novel The Ministry for the Future. This story follows activists, diplomats, and ordinary people over the course of the 21st century as they fight to prevent climate change. Robinson skillfully mixes hard science with likable, compelling characters, and balances realism with optimism, as he imagines our path to a future society where humans live in harmony with the environment.

The Ministry for the Future is available as an ebook from the University Library.

(Many of Robinson’s books deal with human society and our relationship to the environment – if you enjoy this one, be sure to check out his Mars trilogy, New York 2140, or others of his books.)

2. Octavia Butler – Parable of the Sower
black hands hold a book
Octavia Butler was a titan of sci-fi who won many awards for her brilliant explorations of race and gender. In her 1993 dystopian novel, Parable of the Sower, the United States of the near future has been ravaged by climate change, unchecked corporate power, and religious fundamentalism. When teenager Lauren sees her home destroyed by bandits, she is forced to survive the harsh realities of the road and begins to develop a new religion, Earthseed, as she gathers a community around her.

Parable of the Sower, and its sequel, Parable of the Talents, are available from the University Library.

3. Paolo Bacigalupi – The Windup Girl
crumbling futuristic city with a laden elephant in the foreground
Paolo Bacigalupi’s 2009 debut novel imagines a 23rd-century Thailand struggling with rising sea levels, genetically engineered plagues, and neocolonial corporations. The novel follows a sprawling cast of characters through this dystopia, including Emiko, a genetically modified indentured servant seeking freedom and community; Anderson, an economic hitman for an American corporation; and Jaidee, a captain in the Thai Environment Ministry who aims to protect his country from foreign exploitation. The Windup Girl won many awards for its contributions to the climate fiction and “biopunk” genres.

The Windup Girl is available from the University Library.

4. Jenny Offill – Weather
drawings of clouds
Jenny Offill’s 2020 novel follows a college librarian, Lizzie, as she contemplates climate change and her relationship to the environment, while navigating the daily dramas and crises of family life. Rather than imagining future dystopias or utopias of climate crisis, Offill skillfully grounds us in the present with wry humor and thought-provoking observations.

Weather is available from the University Library.

5. Richard Powers – The Overstory
painting of redwood trees
In Powers’ 2018 novel, a group of characters from diverse walks of life come together as activists to fight against deforestation. This Pulitzer Prize-winner is a beautiful exploration of humanity’s connection to and need for forests.

The Overstory is available as an ebook from the University Library.


1. Robin Wall Kimmerer – Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
braided grass
As a professor at SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer brings a unique perspective to this 2013 book about the relationships between humans, plants, and the land, blending indigenous and scientific knowledge.

Braiding Sweetgrass is available as an ebook from the University Library.

2. Amitav Ghosh – The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable
Overhead photo of river delta
Indian writer Amitav Ghosh adapted a series of lectures on climate change into this 2016 work of non-fiction. Ghosh addresses our culture’s failure to truly grapple with climate change in literature, and the ways that colonialism drives the current crisis.

The Great Derangement is available from the University Library.

3. Carolyn Finney – Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors
Picture of a waterfall, person in the foreground with a painting held in front of the face
This 2014 study examines the history of American racism to explain why African Americans are underrepresented in environmentalism and outdoor pastimes, and to challenge the idea of the outdoors as a white space.

Black Faces, White Spaces is available as an ebook from the University Library.

4. Elizabeth Kolbert – The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
red mastodon skeleton
In this 2014 book, journalist and author Elizabeth Kolbert documents the history of mass extinctions past and present as she argues that we are currently in the midst of a man-made mass extinction, affecting species and biomes all over the world. She translates peer-reviewed science and interviews with experts into clear, concise prose to paint a picture of this chilling crisis.

The Sixth Extinction is available from the University Library.

5. George Monbiot – Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea, and Human Life
deer inside a concrete room
George Monbiot is a British writer, journalist, and activist whose 2013 book explores the concept of rewilding and informs us of projects to rewild ecosystems around the world. He blends lyrical nature writing with thoughtful scientific, social, and historical assessments of rewilding efforts, helping the reader to imagine what a wilder world might look like.

Feral is available from the University Library.

Written by: Tali
Posted by: Maurissa

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Exciting Changes Coming Soon!

The Undergraduate Library (UGL) will close at the end of the spring 2022 semester. You might be wondering where to go for your library needs next year. We’ve got you covered!

Most of the services currently provided in the UGL, including the Writers Workshop, will move primarily to the Main Library. The Funk ACES Library, Music and Performing Arts Library, and the Grainger Engineering Library and Information Center will also be expanding existing support for studying and technology needs.

Undergraduate Study Spaces and Services

Undergraduates will still have many options across campus libraries to study, meet up with friends, and access popular library services.

Main Library

There are large, dedicated study spaces in the Main Library, including Room 200 for quiet study and Room 220 (the new Scholarly Commons) meant for collaboration, and loanable technology and new Media Commons studios added to Room 306. In addition, a new study space in Room 100 will open before the start of the fall 2022 semester; it is located just steps from the current Undergraduate Library building next to the Marshall Gallery inside the Main Library entrance facing the UGL. This first-floor space will include popular features from the upper level of the UGL—the Writers Workshop, group study rooms, printing services, loanable laptops, and research consultations, as well as new and expanded programming, support for Zoom classes, direct access to collections, and research consultations and subject expertise from other units in the Main Library.

Funk ACES Library

The Funk ACES Library has extensive study spaces for individuals and groups. In addition, the Funk Library has six study rooms, located on the 3rd and 4th floors. To reserve rooms, you can use the online room reservation system

Study rooms contain a table, whiteboard, and several chairs.  Dry-erase markers are available you just need to present your i-card at the Circulation Desk at the time of your reservation to borrow them.  Room 309 includes a large display monitor with a remote and wireless laptop connection using Solstice.

Next year, the Funk ACES library will expand their study space and have later hours.

The Music & Performing Arts Library (MPAL)

The Music & Performing Arts Library (MPAL) has 6 rooms available with a variety of listening and viewing equipment. Rooms can include dry erase boards, CD players, Cassette players, LED screens, DVD/Blu-ray players, and keyboards. The MPAL also has a reading room on the first floor, and two floors of study space in addition to the bookable study rooms.  You can learn more about the rooms and reserve them here. The MPAL also holds our board games collection!

Grainger Engineering Library 

The Grainger Engineering Library offers students a multitude of study spaces for individuals and groups. In addition to those spaces, the Grainger Engineering Library has various reservable Open Group Study Rooms located on the west end of the Fourth Floor of the Grainger Engineering Library. Five additional rooms  are located in the Lower Level. These rooms can be reserved on a first come, first serve basis up to 14 days in advance by any faculty, staff or student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, using their @illinois.edu email account. In the coming semester, the Grainger Library will also implement later hours and add an immersive VR/AR/green screen studio on the basement level!

Check out a full list of library spaces here!

For the latest on integrating core student services into other campus library locations and how the Library is addressing user needs and service models during the time period when the archives and special collections building is being constructed, check out the Main/Undergraduate Library Integration Project.

Written by: Loida

Posted by: Loida

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Calling All Birds Lovers!

Do you drop what you’re doing to catch a glimpse of a majestic hawk? Do you find yourself following a flash of feathers for hours? Do you have bird cams bookmarked on your laptop? Are you constantly on the lookout for more quality bird content? You’ve come to the right place! The University Library ha a ton of resources to help you learn more about our feathered friends. As a fellow bird lover, I’ve put together a list of some great bird inspired books and a few resources to further fuel your bird obsession!

green parrot dancing


For The Local Birdwatching Fan

American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Illinois

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the birds around campus? This field guide to the birds of Illinois lets you identify and learn about more than 315 bird species. It includes tips on when and where to see birds and it includes clear identification information. It also includes more than 500 color images!

For the Science Buff 

The Genius of Birds

Maybe being a birdbrain isn’t so bad?

Birds are remarkably beautiful, but did you know that they are also intelligent? New research suggests that birds are capable of abstract thinking, problem solving, and can even communicate with humans. In The Genius of Birds, author Jennifer Ackerman presents us with new discoveries about bird intelligence and their astonishing accomplishments.

For the Documentary Lover

The Life of Birds

Fans of nature documentaries know that David Attenborough has spent his life learning and sharing his discoveries with viewers around the world. In The Life of Birds, Sir David introduces readers to birds from around the world. He follows them as they learn to fly, find food, communicate with each other, find mates, and start families of their own. After reading his book, make sure to check out the accompanying video documentary !

For the Serious Birder

Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World

In 2015, Noah Strycker became the first person to see half of the world’s birds in one year. He traveled across 41 countries and all seven continents. He successfully spotted 6,042 species, setting the record for the biggest birding year on record. Follow Noah on his trip as he pursues the most common finch to the most elusive birds on the planet.

For the Not So Serious Birder

Birding Is My Favorite Video Game: Cartoons about the Natural World From “Bird and Moon

Birding is My Favorite Video Game collects fun, colorful, sort of educational bird comics that combine science facts, super cute visuals, and a lot of wit. Based on the popular webcomic Bird and Moon, this collection helps bird lovers learn about their favorite birds.

 For the Literary Birder 

H is for Hawk


Helen Macdonald’s father’s sudden death left her devastated.  Helen turns to her fascination with hawks as a way to cope with her grief. She sees herself in the fierce temperament of the goshawk and she resolves to purchase and raise this majestic creature.
Part nature writing and part memoir this heart-wrenching and humorous book navigates the intricacies of bereavement, obsession, madness, and memory.

For the Bird Lover Who Likes a Little Bit of Everything

The Bedside Book of Birds: An Avian Miscellany

With both a passion for birds and words, novelist Graeme Gibson spent 15 years creating a stunning collection of our admiration for birds. Birds appear over and over in our poems, art, and works from some of our most celebrated authors. This gorgeously illustrated book offers birders a glimpse into just how much birds have inspired and continue to intrigue us.

For Music Lovers

Mozart’s Starling

Did you know that Mozart had a pet starling? On May 27th, 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met a starling and instantly knew they were kindred spirits.  He took the bird home and for three years Mozart and his starling enjoyed music together. In Mozart’s Starling, author Lyanda Lynn Haupt explores this unlikely bond as well as her own friendship with a rescued starling.

For the History Buff

Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?: The Epic Saga of the Bird that Powers Civilization


We often forget about one of the most important birds in our own history — the chicken. Chickens have played a pivotal role in civilizations from the beginning of ancient empires to our modern economic system. Throughout our history chickens have worn several hats, as messengers of the gods, gambling aids, medicine, inspiration for bravery and the harbingers of evil. Journalist Andrew Lawler follows the chicken’s history and its impact on all our lives as well as an exploration on the chicken’s humble beginnings.

After taking a look at some of our recommendations, check out other bird happenings around the library!

Did You Know?

In June 1987 the Library Friends purchased two copies of the limited edition 1985 Abbeville Press facsimile of the double elephant folio. Each week the plates on display are changed in order to show as much of the collection as possible! Go up to the second floor of the Main Library or look at them or browse the plates through The University of Pittsburgh’s digitized collection!

Bird Bonanza

 Vote for your favorite Audubon Bird! Starting March 13, The Audubon Birds will be going up against each other for #BirdBonanza. Go to the University Library Facebook page to vote!

Man with birds perched on his shoulders

Written by: Loida

Posted by: Loida

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Take a Break, Have a Laugh, or Solve a Mystery with Board Games

Looking for something fun to do while taking a break from studying? The UIUC Library has a collection of board games you can check out! From classics to Kickstarter board games, we have a large variety that is sure to fill your needs. You can borrow board games from the Music and Performing Arts Library and the Residence Hall Libraries. Not sure which game to try? Here are a few recommendations:

Wingspan– A beautiful game for 1-5 players for all of you bird enthusiasts out there! In this strategy card game, you play as bird enthusiasts – researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors – seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your aviary.

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza– A fun easy-to-learn card slapping party game for 3-8 players.

Hive– An insect-themed strategy game for 2. The object of the game is to totally surround your opponent’s Queen Bee while at the same time trying to stop your opponent from doing the same to you.

Monopoly– Looking for a classic? Try Monopoly! Compete to be the wealthiest in this board game classic, or adventure through the Johto region in our Pokémon Monopoly edition.

Mansions of Madness: Second Edition– Interested in horror and mystery? Love H.P Lovecraft and Eldritch Horror? This app-driven game might be for you! Play as one of eight investigators through four scenarios of fear and mystery in this cooperative game.

The board games once housed at the Undergraduate Library are now in the Music and Performing Arts Library. Feel free to stop by in person or browse the U of I Collection online to find the right board game for you. Happy gaming!

Written by: Eryn

Posted by: Darian

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Books to Keep Black History Month Going All Year Long

To know the past is to know the present. To know the present is to know yourself.
-Ibram X. Kendi

      In the previous UGL Blog post, we talked about the recent rise of banned and challenged books. As Black History Month comes to a close, I’d like to draw your attention to the ALA’s Top 10 Banned Books of 2020, and how six are challenged because they relate experiences of Black Americans. Reading and learning are the greatest tools we have to fight against banned books and ignorance. There is power in sharing experiences and knowledge through books.

      In honor of Black History Month, and to keep its spirit going all year round, here is a list of books by Black authors that tell powerful stories. Though the ALA’s Banned Books list is mainly books for younger readers, this list has something for all ages, so you can share with all of your loved ones!

Banned Books:

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

silhouette of boy with word stamped on top

      A remix of Ibram X. Kendi’s award winning Stamped from the Beginning, this book takes you on a journey through the history of racist ideas. This book shows how racist ideas are created, perpetuated, but also how they can be discredited. It is an excellent book for those who want to see how racism affects their own lives as well as the lives around them and helps examine how to stamp out racist ideas in our daily lives. Nonfiction, written for a teen audience.

From the American Library Association: “Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.”

You can request Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You from the University of Illinois Library. 

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

man holds hands above head in front of dark blue sky

      Jason Reynolds again! This time this fictional story, written for a teen audience, uses alternating narrators tell the story of Rashad and Quinn, one black teen and one white, and the violent act of police brutality that begins to tear their community apart. A story that is reminiscent of those we hear about in the news. Fiction, written for a teen audience.

From the American Library Association: “Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be ‘too much of a sensitive matter right now.’”

You can request All American Boys from the University of Illinois Library. 

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

the bluest eye

      Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize winner and for good reason, she writes stories about people that you can’t forget. The Bluest Eye is a novel about an 11-year-old Black girl named Pecola who has one wish- for her eyes to turn blue. She sees the way the blond-eyed blue-eyed children are treated- as beautiful- and she yearns to be seen as beautiful as well. Her yearning draws us through the story as we begin to question our own obsession with beauty and conformity. The Bluest Eye is often read by high schoolers and is recommended to any adult that hasn’t picked it up yet. 

From the American Library Association: “Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.”

You can request The Bluest Eye from the University of Illinois Library. 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

african american girl holds sign that reads the hate u give

      A novel about sixteen-year-old Starr, who splits her life between the poor neighborhood where she lives and the affluent, suburban school she attends. Starr’s world is shattered when she witnesses the killing of her friend, an unarmed black young man, by the police. As her community splinters, some calling the man a victim and some a thug, Starr is the only person who knows the truth about what happened that night. Does she have the courage to speak that truth, even if it will upend her community? Great for teens and older, and a film adaptation came out in 2018.

From the American Library Association: “Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message.”

You can request The Hate U Give from the University of Illinois Library. 

Though not (yet) popularly banned, the following books are by Black authors and you won’t want to miss them.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

blocks of images including an eye, a gem, and a safe lock

      This novel by Pulitzer Prize winning author Colson Whitehead drops the reader in 1960’s New York with Ray Carney, furniture salesman. Ray runs an upstanding shop, but with money tight he occasionally does some under the table business in questionable acquisitions (read: stolen goods). But when Ray’s cousin gets involved in a high-profile jewelry heist Ray gets pulled into a much seedier and darker world. Thus begins the struggle between Ray Carney the straight-shooting salesman, and Ray Carney the crook. He must navigate the two all while keeping his shop, saving his cousin, and keeping himself from getting killed. A great adult fiction novel for those who love capers, Harlem, or just good storytelling.

You can request Harlem Shuffle from the University of Illinois Library. 

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Waves and blue water, gold words read Call us what we carry

      Having captured the spotlight, and our hearts, with her moving poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 2021 inaugural address, Amanda Gorman’s collection of poetry is perfect for any lovers of the beauty of words. Exploring language, identity, erasure, Gorman’s poems capture the complexity of these unprecedented times. (Formerly known as The Hill We Climb and Other Poems.)

You can request Call Us What We Carry from the University of Illinois Library. 

March (Trilogy) by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell

multiple people standing in rows man watches as a bus is engulfed in flame overhead shot of many people walking down a street

      The March trilogy is written by American icon and civil rights activist John Lewis. These graphic novels are a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, the graphic novels reflect on the distance traveled from the days of Jim Crow and segregation but doesn’t shy away from asking how much further we need to go. Visually stunning and offering an intimate look inside the civil rights movement, March is perfect for reluctant readers and fans of art books as well as those who appreciate honest and unflinching memoir.

You can request March: Book One, March: Book Two, and March: Book Three from the University of Illinois Library. 

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs

color block image of faces

      History is full of stories of great men, but often we forget about the very real women who supported those men. The Three Mothers looks at three Black women who survived Jim Crow and passed on their strength, resistance, and a fundamental right to dignity of Black people to their sons, who would go on to do great things. This non-fiction book is perfect for anyone who is interested in American history, but especially great for those who are interested in seeing that history from a different angle.

You can request The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation from the University of Illinois Library. 

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith

two black people swim in dark water

       A picture book with stunning prose and verse that starts with a grade-school child being given a genealogy assignment. Instead of learning about her ancestor’s arrival at Ellis Island or on the Mayflower, she learns that her ancestors were stolen and brought to America by slave traders. But she also learns that before that violence, her ancestors had a home, a culture, a language. She also learns how they survived. Perfect for all ages, but especially as an introduction to American history for grades 2-5.

You can request The 1619 Project: Born on the Water from the University of Illinois Library. 


Black history is rich and deep, with stories that need to be read year round. Black history is also American history, and the best way to celebrate Black History Month is to incorporate more works by Black authors into your “to be read” pile.

Written and Posted by: Maurissa

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Maus, Book Bans, and What You Can Do About It

It is a ban of sorts to use authority to keep people from things. Yes, it’s a ban.
Art Spiegelman, author of Maus: A Survivor’s Tale

It’s painful to me because what I know is that when these books are banned, there are going to be thousands and thousands of young people who will not get these books.
Jason Reynolds, author of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, and All American Boys

 I get a lot of uproariously innocent “how dare they?”s and “but why would anyones?” They clearly do dare. And we know exactly why.
Alex Gino, author of George (Melissa’s Story)

Maus and Current Book Banning Controversies

You may have heard about the recent banning of a book called Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by a school board in Tennessee’s McMinn County. The renowned graphic novel, which depicts the atrocities of the Holocaust using mice and cats, was authored by Art Spiegelman, himself the son of Holocaust survivors. Banned for “profanity and nudity,” the loss of the book in McMinn’s eighth-grade school curriculum caused outrage, as many defended the book for its powerful depiction of the reality of the Holocaust and accessibility for students. Spiegelman himself expressed disbelief over the censure, telling one interviewer, “This is disturbing imagery. But you know what? It’s disturbing history.”


Maus is most certainly not the only book that has come under fire in recent months. Many of the most challenged books of today are written for children and young adults, or included in their school curriculum. Conversations around book banning often intersect with other educational movements, including critical race theory, antiracist education, and LGBTQ+ community activism. Emily Knox, a professor at the University of Illinois who studies how and why books get challenged, explained to NPR Illinois, “people [are] unsure if their values are being transmitted to the next generation, and perhaps we can make sure that they are transmitted if we don’t have students read these books.” While these conversations will always be woven into the fabric of education, we know that banning books removes diversity, history (including disturbing history), and valuable life experiences from school curriculums, libraries, and classrooms. Kids need books that will be contextualized, helping expand their imaginations and knowledge.

Book Banning Isn’t New

The banning of Maus, and the backlash around it, is part of a long, long, long history. Challenging and banning books has been around… well, for about as long as there have been books. Throughout history, the powerful have often used book bans to symbolize their own strength, preserve “traditional values,” and exert control over the majority. Books have been burnt, shredded, ripped apart, defaced, challenged, and yes, banned, all in the name of censoring information.

You can find out more about the history of book banning from Lindsay Ellis and Princess Weekes at PBS’ Storied: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpKqRC-9Avc

 What Can You Do?

Here are five ways you can protect freedom of expression and advocate against book bans:

  1. Contact your local school board. Let those in power know that you are in favor of keeping challenged books available to all students. You can contact the Champaign or Urbana Board of Education via email.
  2. Support librarians and teachers. Librarians and teachers are on the front lines of the debates around challenging and banning books. Let them know that you support them!
  3. Support challenged authors. Have you read a banned book that inspired you? Let the author know! The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom has more information at Dear Banned Author.
  4. Use #BannedBooksWeek. Share your favorite #BannedBooks on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, and spread the word on the importance of the freedom to read!
  5. Read widely and read wildly. Read books that challenge you, ignite you, and infuriate you. The best defense is to keep reading.

Written by: Aine

Posted by: Loida

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DeStress Fest

Finals week is fast approaching, and some of us may already be feeling the stress.

Man says I'm very anxious about it

In this trying time, the UGL has got your back! This Thursday, December 9th, we’re celebrating DeStress Fest from 12 pm-11 pm! In addition to our normal services like reservable study spaces and Research and Writing Consultations, we will be providing fun activities throughout the day so you can take a study break and relax a bit. Here’s a schedule of the events:

  • Noon-11 PM: Coloring pages, cute animal videos, and polaroid selfies (upper level UGL)
  • Noon-1 PM: Creative Writing Break! (upper level UGL)
  • 1-3 PM: Button Making (upper level UGL)
  • 3-5 PM: Keychain Crafting (upper level UGL)
  • 5-7 PM: Make Your Own Pet Rock (upper level UGL)
  • 7-9 PM:  Scream or Meditate (lower level UGL)
  • 9-11 PM: Blackout Poetry (upper level UGL)

Stop by for a quick craft, or stay for all of them! We will also be giving away care packages on a first-come, first-served basis at 12 PM, 5 PM, and 9 PM. 

See you there! And remember: you’ve got this!

purple cat says you can do this

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Understanding Thanksgiving and UIUC Land Acknowledgements


Image from the Native American House Library at UIUC

“I/We would like to begin today by recognizing and acknowledging that we are on the lands of the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Chickasaw Nations. These lands were the traditional territory of these Native Nations prior to their forced removal; these lands continue to carry the stories of these Nations and their struggles for survival and identity.

As a land-grant institution, the University of Illinois has a particular responsibility to acknowledge the peoples of these lands, as well as the histories of dispossession that have allowed for the growth of this institution for the past 150 years. We are also obligated to reflect on and actively address these histories and the role that this university has played in shaping them. This acknowledgement and the centering of Native peoples is a start as we move forward for the next 150 years.”

The above statement is a land acknowledgment suggested by the Native American House at UIUC. Land acknowledgements are read at the start of events, meetings, or other gatherings to center the Indigenous Nations whose lands we occupy and recognize that the violent histories of settler colonialism that displaced them are very much still ongoing. In addition to the adoption of land acknowledgements, greater cultural emphasis has been placed on Indigenous liberation, especially around national holidays like Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. As many of us prepare to head home for a well-deserved break, we invite you to take a moment to reflect on the problematic history of Thanksgiving.

We all know the story; the brave Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower in search of religious freedom and arrived at what is now called Plymouth. At first they struggled to inhabit the land, but their friendly neighbors, the Native Americans, welcomed them and showed them how to plant corn. To celebrate their first successful fall harvest and the friendship between groups, a huge feast is thrown, marking the first Thanksgiving. As historian David J. Silverman wrote in the New York Times, “the Indians’ legacy is to present America as a gift to white people — or in other words, to concede to colonialism.”

This myth erases the violence that both preceded and followed the alliance between the Wampanoags — the tribe often unnamed in the Thanksgiving story — and the Pilgrims. Many Americans believe that the meeting at Plymouth Rock was the first contact between settlers and Indigenous people, however European colonists had been arriving in the Americas for almost a hundred years prior, bringing with them diseases and war. Silverman argues that the Wampanoags agreed to the alliance with the Pilgrims in part to avoid the violence that they had become accustomed to from settlers. As the US colonies expanded to occupy more land, Indigenous populations were terrorized by white settlers, forcibly removed from their ancestral lands or into repressive assimilation programs. The myth of Thanksgiving sanitizes a genocide.

This history is disturbing, but important to confront, and this post is far from comprehensive. While you gather around the turkey, take a moment to share what you’ve learned with your family. Whether this information is new to you or not, consider learning more about Indigenous history and modern life. Some great books to start with include An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, both available in the U of I Collection.

Written by: Danny

Posted by: Darian

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