Everything you ever wanted to know about…

How many movies has Samuel L. Jackson starred in? Aside from the telephone, what else did Alexander Graham Bell invent? How accurate was The Social Network in portraying Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg? With the Library’s biographical resources, you can find out just about anything about anyone.

The world's most interesting man says: I don't always look up my own life story, but when I do, I use the online reference collection.

Finding bios of people online can be super easy. Especially with websites like Wikipedia or IMDB, it may be more difficult to not find information about people online. As helpful as the world wide web can be, it’s often not the most credible of places to find information. Using the Library’s online reference collection, you have access to millions of biographies, still right at your fingertips. And you know it’s coming from Library-recommended, credible sources.

(You can use the link above, or if you start at the UGL homepage, click on Find in the upper right corner, and then select Biographies.)

There are a lot of resources to sift through, depending on your interests. These are some of our favorite multi-subject resources:

Biography Resource Center: This database covers people from all over the world, in all subject areas, from all points in history. You can search in a variety of ways, too: by name, occupation, birth or death years, and many others. Bonus: a lot of times, entries will include links to news articles, magazine articles or other references materials about the person in question.

American National Biography: If you need information about a famous American, this is a great place to get started. In addition to having bios of over 17,000 people, it also links you to other resources if you find yourself needing more info.

Credo Reference Biographies: While it may not contain its own full-text bios, it can link you out to other great resources, all by searching in one place.

In addition to the broad-coverage resources, there are also great places to start like American Men and Women of Science, Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music, and Distinguished Asian Americans, all of which cover more specific subject areas.

If you get stuck trying to find information about a specific person, come talk to us at the Research Desk, stop in during Office Hours @ the UGL, or chat us up on IM. Stay curious, #ClubUGL.

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s . . . Office Hours @ the UGL!

If you find yourself caught in the clutches of confusing research questions and don’t know where to turn, never fear! Office Hours at the UGL is here to save the day!

Office Hours @ the UGL poster - make your research super!

You’re busy. You have papers, group projects, presentations. Sometimes, it probably seems like you’re lost, wandering the dark alleys with no one to hear your cry for help. But you’re not alone! UGL librarians are here to help you wade through your research with Office Hours @ the UGL.

We’re always here for you, at our Research Desk and online with Ask a Librarian. But maybe you need some one-on-one, in-depth research help. That’s where Office Hours can swoop in to rescue you. Every Monday from 2-4 and every Tuesday from 7-9, we’re waiting in UGL room 291 to answer all your research questions. We can help you with any part of your research process, too, whether you’re just getting started, need more sources, or don’t know if the ones you have are credible.

No matter if you just have a quick question or need more in-depth help, we’ve got both covered. And, if you need help tackling your writing questions, Writers Workshop tutors will be there to answer quick writing queries. So you can come get help with your research and your writing, all in one stop! New this semester, too, is Office Hours @ the Media Commons, where you can get tech tips, troubleshooting, learn more about the UGL’s loanable tech equipment and more. No matter what your trouble, the UGL has a solution for you.

You never know when calamity will strike, so don’t worry about making an appointment. Just stop in and let us know how we can help you. To make sure you get the most out of your visit, here are a couple tips:

  • First, if you have a specific assignment you’re working on, bring any assignment details you have with you. The more we know about what you have to do, the better we can help!
  • Second, if you’ve done any work on the assignment so far, make sure to tell us, so we can start from the best possible place.

Don’t feel like you have to fight alone. Let Office Hours @ the UGL help defend you against confusion and frustration. Researchers assemble!

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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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Office Hours @ the UGL

Research and Writing Help you can Believe in!

It’s that time of year. The leaves are turning orange and red, the sun is setting a little earlier, and you’re getting busier. Papers are getting assigned, projects are almost due, midterms are almost upon us.  Because we want you to rock the socks off all your classes, the UGL is here to help you in any way we can. Starting this month through December 4th, you can visit us for some one-on-one research and writing help during Office Hours @ the UGL.

You always have the option of stopping at the Research Desk or chattin’ us up through IM, but if you need some one-on-one research time away from the noisy traffic of the library, Office Hours is here for you. Every Monday from 2-4 and every Tuesday from 7-9, UGL librarians are waiting in room 291 to answer all your burning research questions. We can help you with any part of your research process, too, whether you’re just getting started, need more sources, or don’t know if the ones you have are credible. Quick question or in-depth research? We’ll help with both. And bonus: Writers Workshop tutors will be there too. So you can come get help with your research and your writing, all in one stop!

The best part? You don’t need to make an appointment. Just stop in and let us know how we can help you. To make sure you get the most out of your visit though, here are a couple tips:

  • First, if you have a specific assignment you’re working on, bring any assignment details you have with you. The more we know about what you have to do, the better we can help!
  • Second, if you’ve done any work on the assignment so far, make sure to tell us, so we can start from the best possible place.

Don’t let your research get the better of you. Visit Office Hours @ the UGL and get help you can believe in!

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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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Finally Summer!

vintage image of a merry-go-round

Image courtesy of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums via Flickr.

It’s practically summer! Hopefully you’re preparing to do something fun/amazing, whether it’s finishing gen-eds with some summer classes, doing an internship in your major, traveling around the world, heading home to earn some moola, or something else we haven’t thought of (do tell!).

The UGL will not be doing any of the aforementioned things this summer, since it’s a building, but if you’re staying around campus (or even if you’re off campus and need research assistance) the UGL will be here for you. During the dog days of summer, you can basically do everything you normally do at the UGL, just not for as many hours each day.  Here are some ideas:

Taking a short trip and need a camera? Planning to work on a media portfolio? Studying like crazy for the GRE, LSAT or MCAT? During summer, you can still book and checkout the loanable technology items, collaboration rooms, and other library items you’ll need to accomplish these tasks.

Sadly, research papers do not disappear during summer classes. Never fear! You can also still get plenty of research assistance in person at the research desk and online via chat Mon-Thurs 11-6 and Fri 11-5. On the weekends, you can get research help at the circulation desk.

Here’s a look at our summertime schedule, which begins on Monday, May 14th:

Summer I & Summer II:

Mon-Thurs: 8:30-6

Fri: 8:30-5:00

Sat & Sun: 1-5

You can find the summer schedules for other campus libraries here.

Note: The UGL will close on Friday, May 11th at 7PM, and will reopen again on Monday, May 14th at 8:30AM.

 

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Cite These Sources

Image of reference books on shelf

Did you know that even librarians like us at the UGL are fans of Wikipedia? Yep, we are. Because librarians are people, too.

But while Wikipedia is a great place to start looking for information on things you’re interested in and might want to research for a class (not to mention an excellent source for finding the information you need to win bets with your friends), you typically can’t cite Wikipedia for your academic research.  Your professors just aren’t gonna accept it (unless you’re doing research on Wikipedia itself, in which case you might cite it as a primary source).

Sometimes you really need credible background information to inform a paper, presentation or project. You need…encyclopedias! In case you haven’t used one since elementary school days, encyclopedias are the (usually big) books, from which the name Wikipedia is derived, that typically offer objective overviews on a range of topics. They range from the general, like Wikipedia or World Book Encyclopedia, to the specific, like the Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States. Like Wikipedia, encyclopedias are really great starting points to find background information, but unlike Wikipedia, credible, published encyclopedias can be cited in papers, as the entries have been compiled and reviewed by experts in the field.

The UGL has lots of print encyclopedias both in the reference collection on the upper level and all over the shelves on the lower level, organized by their subject area. Just to challenge your notion of what an encyclopedia is (big, dusty, can only be used at the library), we also have TONS of online encyclopedias, most of which are electronic versions of their print equivalents. You can access these anywhere, anytime, through the UGL’s homepage (Find → Background Information). And they never get dusty.

Here’s a list of some of our faves!

West’s Encyclopedia of American Law – You’re probably not a lawyer, but you might take classes that deal with some aspect of law: education, political science, communication, technology, medicine…all of these are affected by the law! This encyclopedia doesn’t just offer definitions of legal terms, but gives you great overviews of policies, issues and government departments and processes. (Related: Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law)

Encyclopedia of Food and Culture – This title is a little more specialized, but is useful for research in history, sociology, food and nutrition, and other cultural research. Bonus: it includes recipes!

 Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security – It’s not going to bring you the same kind of thrills you get from watching The Bourne Identity.  But if you’re Interested in learning more about the science, technology, and organizational structure behind today’s intelligence and security organizations, this is a great place to start.  It’s also an excellent place to learn more about the concept of homeland security and the complexities involved in the reorganization of United States security agencies.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture – Learn more about pretty much anything you can think of related to pop culture.  Entries range from the very broad (like “advertising”) to the much more specific (“Threes’s Company“!  “Velveeta Cheese”!).  Easy to read entries are great for research or just for kicks.

You can find more of our online encyclopedias here.  Now go get researching!

 

 

 

 

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