The Best of QB

You’ve all walked past the famous (and recently restyled) Question Board, affectionately known as QB, at some point. You may have marveled at QB’s magical powers of research and punnery. Now, as the leaves turn, the weather gets colder, and movie critic fingers tap out best-of lists, we’ve got a list of our own: the three best answers from Question Board, plus a surprise!

(Looking for the full text of these QB winners? Visit the QB archive!)

Let’s start with what QB is best known for. No, it’s not hilarious references. It’s using library resources! There are a few contenders for the best use of library resources, but last year, QB answered a question about the wide, weird world of jean shorts, and came out the other side with more knowledge than you can shake a sewing needle at. QB personally told the bloggers here at the UGL that this research is a particular point of pride for QB. Let’s take a look at the question, shall we?

Vintage photo of young women harvesting cabbage

These ladies are looking pretty suave in their jean shorts.

“Dear QB: Why do most women consider denim shorts (or ‘jorts’) on males to be unfashionable? Is this a psychological or neurological phenomenon? Also, are there any known health effects associated with wearing denim shorts?”

QB was able to answer this question with style galore, although without wearing a pair of jorts:

“Dear Fashion Forward:

QB was quite pleased to get your question. Not having legs, QB has never worn a pair of jorts, although QB suspects they may be quite comfortable. To start with, QB thought it might be wise to get some background information on denim in general…”

The fully-covered answer can be found here on the QB website. But QB isn’t just known for looking good while doing research; QB is also a pun machine. Let’s take a look at the answer to this burning question:

“Dear QB: There are so many squirrels on this campus – but where is all their poop?!”

QB’s answer began as such:

“Dear Scatman,
While squirrels may be ubiquitous on the UIUC campus, credible, scholarly information about their defecation habits is most definitely not. QB searched long and hard through the resources available in the University of Illinois library system and was unable to come up with even the faintest whiff of research on the subject…”

You can find the entire punfully entertaining answer revealed here. And if you’re looking for more squirrel info, QB has sent this squirrel to the reference librarians pretty often, and seems to find it funny.

In the land of the library there live many very proud nerds of all kinds. We here at the blog would like to give QB a shout-out for musically nerding it up while answering this question:

“Dear QB: Did the Obama’s political allies assassinate Tupac in order to prevent Tupac’s presidency?”

Sad cartoon character in headphones

We miss you, Tupac. (Image courtesy of kreezzalee on Flickr)

QB responds thusly:

“Dear Conspiracy Theorist,
QB applauds your keen eye in looking back at 1996… the year that saw the death of Tupac Shakur on September 13th…work your way through biographies of all the major players (the libraries here on campus have books on Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, and Suge Knight…”

Such research (found in its complete form here)! And presented in such beautiful style!

This brings us to our surprise: the podcast. Didn’t you know we have podcasts? You’ve been missing out! Hear all the voices of QB on iTunes here and subscribe to listen to QB’s magnificent answers. Don’t have iTunes? No problem—QB makes sure that there is always a podcast up and ready online, right above the text of QB’s answer. Our favorite (and one of QB’s as well) answers the age old question:

“Dear QB: How come you can’t keep your eyes open when you sneeze? Is your body protecting your eyes from popping out?”

Find the podcast here and listen to your heart’s content.

So there you have it: QB’s top three answers—and a magnificent podcast to boot. Visit QB on the lower level of the UGL anytime for more thoughtful answers, or check out QB on the UGL website.  If you’ve got your own questions, don’t be shy—ask QB! QB is ready and raring to answer your most pressing and random questions. Anything you’ve ever wondered about but were too confused or embarrassed to look up yourself – QB can handle it for you.

Got a research question? QB is a busy board answering all your trivia questions. Try the Undergraduate Library Research Desk on the upper level or use our Ask-A-Librarian service online!

Special thanks to guest blogger Zoe Weinstein.

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Tell Us What You Think!

Hey, Club UGL. You know we love to hear from you. Whether it’s answering your questions via Ask a Librarian or the research desk, getting your feedback via our suggestions box, or hearing your purchase recommendations, we’re all ears for what you have to say. This week, we’ve got a special survey to solicit your opinions about our loanable technology program.

The tech desk is on the upper level of the UGL near the circ desk.

This is where the magic happens. The magic that you will influence, via this survey.

We are constantly seeking to expand and improve what’s available in our loanable technology pool, and we want to hear from you about how we can best do that. That’s why we’ve created this survey to ask what you think about various topics – iPads and iPad apps, Chromebooks, potential new items, and any other ideas or thoughts you want to share with us. The survey opens today (Monday, October 14th) and runs all the way through next Sunday, October 20th. That’s almost a whole week, so you’ve got plenty of time to mull it over and be thoughtful – but don’t forget! If you’d rather take the survey on paper, that’s an option, too – there will be paper forms attached to the whiteboard near the entrance on the upper level. You can turn completed paper surveys in at the circulation desk (and you might get something nice if you do…).

This week we’re asking for you opinions, but coming up in the next week we’ll have some suggestions for *you* – about events on campus, resources you can use, and a project we’ve been working on. We’re looking forward to hearing from you, and we hope you’ll stick around to hear from us.

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UGL 101: Ask A Librarian

UGL 101: an introduction

Somewhere, in the deep, dark night, a cry goes out for help. A student has an information need, and they can’t make it to the library to get help. Whatever shall they do? There is tearing of hair and rending of garments. All seems lost, until—what’s this? A tiny, yellow image of a running figure? A prompt inviting visitors to share their needs? Could it possibly be…a chat window that connects students to an actual live librarian in real time? It is! Hurrah! The day is saved!

Ask A Librarian Chat Box:

A beacon of hope.

Okay, so maybe it’s never that dramatic. Most people don’t actually rip their clothes in frustration when they need help. Sometimes, though, you do have a reference or research question that needs answering right away, and you can’t make it to the library to ask our reference librarians for assistance. When that happens, you can use our handy dandy Ask A Librarian services to get the help you need.

You might have seen the Ask A Librarian chat window, pictured above, on the UGL homepage. It also appears, with some minor variations, on the main library gateway page, and on the search results page within many different databases—look for it! No matter where it shows up, and no matter where you’re surfing from (be it home, a coffee shop, up a tree—wherever!) it will connect you to a live librarian who is ready to help you with your question. Just start typing in the message bar where prompted, press enter, and a librarian will respond. From 9 am to midnight Sunday-Thursday, 9am-5:30pm on Friday and 10am-6pm on Saturday, real librarians sit and eagerly await your inquiries. Go ahead and ask them!

Chat boxes may look different on different pages.

The chat box may also look like this. They all work!

If you don’t want to use the chat box we provide on our sites, you can add us on AIM, Yahoo, MSN, or Google Talk, and chat with us that way. Our screen name is the same on all four platforms: askillinois. You can also add the main library to your account; their screen name is askuiuc.

If you’d rather not use IM at all, fear not! We have other ways for you to get in touch with us. For instance, you can also text us! Send your question to 217-686-4361, and we’ll text you back with an answer. Be aware that standard messaging rates apply.

All these options are available to you if you need a librarian and can’t come to the library to ask your question. If you can make it to the library, though, stop by our reference desk and ask us in person! We’re directly in front of you when you enter the main doors, near the circulation desk. You’ll know us by our spiffy blue vests. You can also stop by during Office Hours to get research or writing help—no appointment necessary! Whatever method you prefer—we’ve got you covered.

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Summer Research Cheat Sheet

Picture of Illini pool

Rays and research, the perfect combination! (Photo courtesy of ARC website)

So, Summer I classes are almost half way over. Uh, whoa! That was super-fast! Condensed coursework is great because you get to rack up some credits a whole lot quicker. But they can also be a bummer because they tend to be much more intensive with tighter deadlines than a normal semester class. But if you’re taking a class right now, we don’t need to tell you that, huh?

If the half-way point of your Summer I class means it’s time to get your research on, never fear! The UGL has some quick-n-easy resources that will help you maximize your research capabilities (and theoretically maximize your grade), all while minimizing the time you actually need to spend in the library. In fact, the time you need to physically be inside the library could add up to a whopping zero hours. Is your mind blown? Well, it should be. Here are some trade secrets for helping you through a research paper – from conceptualizing an idea to polishing the works cited page – that are all one or two clicks away on the UGL homepage.

Meet your new best friend, the “Find” Button

screenshot of UGL homepage with easy search bar highlighted

Located in the upper left corner of the UGL homepage, hovering over the “Find” button gives you the keys to a whole bundle of helpful stuff, such as:

  • Need facts and contextual info on a topic? Click on “Background Info” to search our online encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, etc. You can search by subject area, resource type, or just a plain old-fashioned keyword search—user’s choice!
  • Need to narrow down a broad topic? Click on “Subject Guides” and be privy to a whole list of custom-made research guides. These guides break down common topics such as climate change, the Iraq War, teen pregnancy or media bias with a topic overview, background info, tips on finding relevant articles and books, and helpful websites.
  • Need a couple peer-reviewed articles? Click on “Articles” and you’ll automatically land on our handy “Find Articles Guide” page. Divided by multi-topic or subject-specific, this page provides links into the most commonly used databases, where you can search for articles on everything from the effects of UV rays on college students’ appetites to the sociological impacts of taking a summer road trip with a handful of your closest buds. (Extra pro tip: try looking for the department your class is in if you’re stuck—for example, if you’re taking a psych class, PscyINFO could be a good place to start.)

A Cite For Sore Eyes

Style guides are linked to on UGL page under heading 'Learn'

Citations, I love you, but you’re bringing me down. Ever feel this way while working on the reference list for your paper? Well, there’s an app for that. Err, um, a link, anyway. Near the center of the UGL homepage, under the orange “Learn” heading is a link to the APA, MLA Guides. One click here takes you to a list of resources for perfecting your citations—both in the text and in the works cited list. Oh, your instructor is requesting Chicago Style? That’s covered, too!

Ask Us! (Online)

Ask a Librarian chat box located on main library page, UGL page, and many other places.

There’s a live help chat box embedded in the UGL homepage, and it’s staffed M-F from 9am-5:30pm and Saturday & Sunday from 1pm-4:30pm. Just one more way you can get a little extra push from a librarian without leaving the air conditioned comfort of your bedroom (or the sweltering pool deck at the ARC, if your wireless so allows).

One last tip…

Our online library resources are available to you wherever you are—you just need an internet connection and your Net ID/password to access from off campus. Your crazy-busy Summer I sched might be cramping your grill out/lay out/work out seshes, but time spent in the library (while we’d be happy to have you!) doesn’t have to get in the way of your fabulous summer.

Questions about anything you read here? Ask-A-Librarian!

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QB: Answering your questions for more than 40 years.

QB questions can be read in person at the QB board on the lower level.

QB: The amazing genderless question-answerer

Got a burning question and don’t want to ask a librarian (or ask-a-librarian)?  Why not ask QB?

QB is the Undergraduate Library’s anonymous question-answering service.  Established in 1972 as part of the UGL’s reference services, QB has answered thousands of questions submitted by library patrons.  You can still submit your questions the old-fashioned way: by filling out and depositing a question form on the physical Question Board (pictured above, and located on the lower-level of the UGL across from the media collection).  Or, you can send your questions to QB online, if that’s your preference.  Either way, QB will try to get to your questions ASAP (but please be patient, folks, as QB’s services are in high demand, and QB needs time to provide you with the quality, witty responses you’ve come to expect).

Not sure what kinds of questions to ask QB? Some awesome topics QB has tackled include how to kill an immortal, whether blondes have more fun, how to become a ninja, whether Santa Claus is real, why the Greek system is Greek, and many more answers as well.

Here’s a random sampling of some of our favorite questions from this past year (and some choice snippets of QB answers… click on the linked answers to read the full responses):

Question: If you have ever been on the Bardeen (Engineering) Quad, you may have noticed that the paths cutting across it are rather indirect. Why does the Engineering Quad have these swoopy, inefficient paths, while the Main Quad has direct, straight-line connections between its buildings?

Answer: …Looking back into campus history, QB notes that before the plan for the quad, the area was meant to be used as experimental horticulture grounds. Although that didn’t happen, in 1871 a plan for the area included curved (not straight) paths surrounded by gardens. The University, however, decided against it because of, among other things, the possibility that “rowdy boys” would be “incited to mischief by the opportunity presented.” QB usually sees students at their most studious and is amused to hear about the danger they may have posed to plant life in bygone years…

Question: I’m considering buying my girlfriend some jewelry and I am all about saving money. Can girls honestly tell the difference between real diamonds and cubic zirconium? What are the odds she will find out that the cubic zirconium is not real diamond if I tell her that it is a real diamond?

Answer:  When it comes to love, Cheap, honesty really does tend to be the best policy. Chances are, you’re a college undergrad. Do you think your girlfriend doesn’t know you’re broke? If you really want to impress her, give her a gift from the heart. Short on ideas? Why not check out _The Idiot’s Guide to Making Great Gifts_, available here in the Undergrad Library.

Question: How do magnets work?

Answer: Throughout time, your question has been posed by scientists, scholars and–most recently–Juggalos. That’s right, Magnetic: Insane Clown Posse also asked this question in their song, “Miracles,” which first appeared on their 2009 album, “Bang! Pow! Boom!”. A video for the song was released in 2010, and the verse “I see miracles all around me / Stop and look around, it’s all astounding / Water, fire, air and dirt / F@$*ing magnets, how do they work?” drew quite a bit of attention, spawning an internet meme, a “Saturday Night Live” spoof and polarizing audiences worldwide. Regardless of the musical relevancy of “Miracles,” however, the question still remains: Magnets–how do they work?

So come along and drop QB a line today. You know you want to!

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