A Day in the Life: Angeline

Have you ever wondered what a librarian’s job looks like? Or what exactly the staff members, faculty, and graduate assistants do at the Undergraduate Library during the day? Here’s your chance to find out! Meet Angeline, a graduate assistant at the UGL.

"A Day in the Life."

Q: So, Angeline, what do you do here?
A: Well, I’m a graduate assistant, so I get to do a lot of different things! Most often, I work at the research desk on the upper level of the UGL, and I also answer your questions through the Ask A Librarian chat. I teach library instruction classes for CMN 101/111, Rhet 105, and ESL 115 classes, so you may have had me as your instructor in one of those sessions. I’m here early to open the UGL on Saturday mornings, so if you really want to make my day, feel free to bring me tea! One of the projects I get to work on that I’m really excited about is digitizing video games.

Q: That sounds awesome. What’s your favorite part about your job?
A: Definitely the people I work with. Between having a lot of classes together and working together, all the graduate assistants here are pretty close. I really like how we all support each other, both in this job and as we have started looking for full-time employment after graduation.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the UGL?
A: Hmmm…the staff area! If you haven’t been back there–and, of course you haven’t, you’re probably not staff–it’s like Narnia. I mean, literally, I have to wear a jacket because it’s so cold.

Q: Besides working at the UGL, what do you do for fun?
A: I enjoy reading comics, mostly from the UGL because we have a really great collection. I’m a big Captain America fan, so I requested the comics we don’t have here from other libraries through I-Share so I could read them ALL.

Q: Nice! Now, let’s talk about something really important. Where is your favorite place to eat in town?
A: Black Dog! I love me some BBQ.

Q: Yum. What’s your favorite part of working with students?
A: Helping students find the information they need. There’s nothing better than having a student ask you for help, then being able to work with them to find what they’re looking for. It makes me feel like a superhero…but with less explosions. Although I did have to call an ambulance once.

Q: What do you wish students knew about the UGL?
A: That so many people who work at the UGL are here to answer your questions and help you with whatever you might need. So, come visit me on the research desk, I’d love to help!

Photo of Angeline

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Spotlight On…CQ Researcher

You’ve got a paper coming up, and you don’t have a topic yet. The paper has to be about a current issue that’s controversial, or maybe you have to debate the pros and cons of something – but there are so many issues in the world! How do you know what to choose and where to start? If you come to the UGL’s website, we have a resource that can help you solve all these problems. It’s called CQ Researcher.

What and where is CQ Researcher?

CQ Researcher is one of the many databases that the library provides for you to use. It’s a little different from other databases you may have used, because it’s designed to make it easy for you to browse articles by topic. The topics that articles in CQ Researcher cover range from education issues (like homeschooling) to disputes over international law (like the ethics of war), but all have been topics of intense discussion and debate in the recent past or present.

To get to CQ Researcher, start at the UGL homepage and click the Find Articles button that you see under the Easy Search box. That will take you to the Find Articles guide, where we list some of our databases by type. CQ Researcher is a general database, so you can find a link to it in the first section that’s labelled “Starting Points (Multi-Subject Databases).”

CQ Researcher should be the third database listed under Starting Points.

What can I find in CQ Researcher?

Every topic covered in CQ Researcher will be explained in a report – a long article that provides an overview of the topic,  including background information, current controversies or problems, and potential outcomes. An editorial piece from each side of the argument – a “pro” and a “con” position – are also provided by an expert on the topic. Other helpful features include timelines of major events, and lists of suggested sources for further research. This information could be used to help you figure out what specific aspects of a general topic you’re most interested in, where you should look for more information, or how a specific issue fits into a larger issue or trend.

You can navigate through the different kinds of information provided using the menu on the left side, or explore related issues using the Issue Tracker menu on the right.

How can I use CQ Researcher?

If you already have an idea of what you’re interested in, the main page of CQ Researcher has a search feature in the upper-right hand corner of the screen. If you don’t have an idea yet, don’t worry – it also has options to browse through information by what’s been added most recently, or by general area of interest (like the ‘education’ and ‘international law’ areas we mentioned above). As you browse or search, CQ Researcher will offer suggestions for related topic in a menu on the right-hand side of the screen.

The search box is in the top-right corner, and the Browse options are in the main navigation menu under the heading.

So, if you’re trying to find an interesting, contemporary debate to explore for an assignment, or you’ve already got one and need ideas for how to approach it, find your way to the UGL homepage and try CQ Researcher. There’s also that helpful Ask-A-Librarian chat box on the UGL page, so if you should get stuck, a librarian is only a click away! We’ll be happy to help you use this or any other library resource.

Find other posts in the Spotlight On… series here.

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Black History Month Resources

February, as you may know, is Black History Month. It’s a month-long celebration of African-American history in the United States. The UIUC libraries have lots of resources to help you learn about African-American history during this national observance, as well as the other 11 months of the year.

John Sharper, African-American soldier in the Union Army. Image courtesy of National Archives.

A good place to start for all things Black History Month is the official government site for the holiday. There you can find online exhibits and collections from the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and other national institutions. If you’d like to keep things closer to home, the University Archives also have research guides about African-American history on campus. The archives blog also has a post about Black Power movements at UIUC in the 1960s, and the Student Life and Culture Program has guides to integration and civil rights.

Research on African-American history in the library at large can be accomplished with help from the African American Research Center, an extensive collection of books and other sources about ” the Black experience in the Americas and worldwide outside of Africa.” There are also lots of research guides about Black history topics, including African-American literature and political activism.

The UGL has a Pinterest board featuring biographies of African-Americans from A-Z, if you’re looking for books about inspiring individuals. The National Archives also have a Pinterest board for Black History Month, so if you’re on Pinterest all day anyway, you can stay there and still learn about African-American History.

How have you celebrated Black history? Are there great book, movies, or online resources you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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Office Hours are here!

And the award for best student goes to……you! Yes, you! For going to office hours and getting the help offered to you by the librarians and writing center. Hopefully, you have seem the awesome new flyers promoting office hours. We’re all aware that midterms are coming up and we’re scrambling to get projects done and papers turned in. Why not let the librarians and the writing center give you a hand with all that coursework?

The award for SMARTEST HELP ON CITATIONS goes to...Writer's Workshop Consultants!

Check out our awesome new flyers!

In case you haven’t see the flyers promoting office hours, here is the run-down. Office hours for the 2014 spring semester will be Tuesdays 7:00-9:00 P.M. and Wednesdays2:00-4:00 P.M. These will take place in the Undergraduate Library in room 291. You will be able to get in-depth research help from librarians, but wait, that’s not all! A representative from the Writer’s Workshop will also be there to help students with any help they might need.

So there you have it folks, if you need any help with research or finding a certain article, or help with revising an essay, come find us at the UGL! We are more than happy to help! After all, it’s why we’re there.

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Arch-I’ve Got Some Sources for You

Hey, do you know about the University Archives? Well, you should, because they can help you meet all your campus-related primary source needs, as well as give you a fascinating glimpse into what life as a student at UIUC has been like over the years.

black and white vintage image of students walking down main quad

The quad in ye olden days. (Photo courtesy of University Archives)

An archive is a collection of historical documents that documents the life or developments of a person or organization. The University Archives, as the name suggests, collects documents that contain information about the history and functions of UIUC, and people who have been associated with it in some way. A lot of them are primary sources – interviews, letters, and things like that. If you’re working on an assignment that requires primary sources, why not visit the archives website or contact an archivist to see what they can help you with? The archives also have a guide to primary sources in general, if you need to start with the basics.

A lot of the things kept in the archives relate to the running of the University and its general history, but a lot of it is also about students just like you! The Student Life and Culture Program is one part of the University Archives that highlights the student experience at UIUC (and the United States in general), and how it has changed over time (and how it’s stayed the same). Some of your assignments might require you to investigate an issue on campus; the SLC has research guides that can help you find information about the history of hot-button topics on campus. Maybe you’re interested in Greek life on campus, or the experiences of African-American students. Those are just a few things you can learn about using archival materials!

If this brief introduction has you curious about archives, feel free to search their website for things that you’re interested in. You can get a sampling of their collection on the UGL’s Facebook and Twitter pages – we’re highlighting fun and interesting things we find in the archives in weekly Throwback Thursday posts.

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Start your research right with Subject Guides

Now that we’re back, relaxed and refreshed, from Fall Break, it’s time to buckle down and get to work on final papers and projects. If you’ve got some serious researching to do, the UGL has the perfect place to start: our collection of Subject Research Guides.

Image of the home tab of a research guide on the topic adoption

Sample Subject Research Guide on Adoption

Getting started with research can be a tricky task. With hundreds of databases and millions of books at your fingertips, it can be hard to know where to begin. To make it easier for you, the UGL has a collection of subject research guides you can use to know where and how to look for information you need.

A subject research guide contains resources for finding information related to a specific topic. Each guide contains links for background information and databases, as well as suggestions for keywords to help you search. We also throw in helpful websites and links to professional organizations. They’re a one-stop shop for getting started with research. Writing a paper about social media? We have you covered. Doing a presentation on artificial intelligence? We’ve got that too.

And just how can you find these amazing, librarian-approved sources of information? It’s so simple, you’ll wonder how you haven’t stumbled across them before. Starting from the UGL homepage, just look for the link to “Subject Guides” in the light gray bar that goes across the center of the screen. Click and boom! Research resources are just waiting for you. We have guides for over 100 topics, with new ones being made all the time.

If you don’t see your topic on our list, you can also search the complete collection of guides made by all University libraries. If you still can’t find your topic, give us a shout in the comments or on our Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you want to see. And of course, you can always stop by Office Hours @ the UGL or hit us up on chat for any research or library questions you have. Let’s show this semester who’s boss.

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Spotlight on…Gale Virtual Reference Library

Long gone are the days when you have to sift through a heavy encyclopedia to find background information (not to mention figuring out which one is best for your topic). Using the Gale Virtual Reference Library, you can find information about almost any topic, searching multiple resources at once, all from the comfort of your own computer.

Home page of Gale Virtual reference library with a search box at the top, subjects listed down the left column, and images of resources in the center

Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) is like librarian-approved Wikipedia. It has encyclopedias and other online reference books that cover a wide variety of subject areas, all in one place, so you can do one-stop-searching. You can also select to search in a specific subject area, choosing from subjects like art, biography, history, law, science, and many more.

To get there, start from the UGL’s homepage. In the dark blue bar that goes across the top of your screen, there will be a link for “Find.” Clicking on that link will take you to a page with tips and resources for finding all types of information. To get to GVRL, you’ll need to select “Background Information,” which will take you to the Library’s Online Reference Collection. You should see GVRL listed under the heading for “Starting Points” on this page.

Once you’re in GVRL, you’ll be able to see how many resources are available in this one place. (Hint: lots). To do a simple search, all you have to do is type your keyword(s) into the search box at the top of the screen. This will search all the resources available to you in GVRL.

image of easy search box on the top of the home page

Find this box at the top of your screen. It’s your gateway to thousands of resources!

You also have the option to search in a specific subject area. All you have to do is select the subject you want from the menu on the left on the homepage. You’ll be taken to a screen that lists the resources available in that subject area. There will be a box near the right-hand corner where you can search across all the sources for your chosen subject area.

image of the history subject page, highlighting the box to search within history in the right-hand corner

Once you’ve searched for your topic, whether you did a simple search or chose a specific subject area, you’ll see a screen listing the different resources you can access. If your search found too many resources, you can narrow what you’re seeing by using the options on the left on your results screen. You can choose a subject area, a type of resource (like a biography or topic overview), or a specific encyclopedia.

image of a search results screen, highlighting the options to limit results available in the left column

Don’t need 1800 results about yoga? Narrow it down using the options on your left.

GVRL is a great place to get started if your topic is related to multiple subject areas. With hundreds of encyclopedias at your fingertips, we’ll be surprised if you can’t find what you’re looking for. If that happens, though, you can always try another resource in the Online Reference Collection, or Ask a Librarian for help. That’s why we’re here.

Need ideas for other great library resources? Find more in our Spotlight on… series here.

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Office Hours @ the UGL: Deep Space 291

Don’t let your research and writing questions run rings around you – come to Office Hours @ the UGL, and get help reaching that final frontier – before you reach the deadlines for your assignments!

Office Hours Tuesday 7-9 Wednesday 2-4 in room 291

Space puns also available upon request, while supplies last.

No matter what your mission – to explore strange databases, to seek out new articles and new peer-reviewed journals, to boldly cite what none of your classmates have cited before – you can get help at Office Hours. Simply come to room 291 of the UGL on Tuesdays from 7-9 PM, and on Wednesdays from 2-4 PM, and get help with any step of the research process. Whether you just have a quick question or need in-depth, one-on-one research help, we’re here for you. Tutors from the Writer’s Workshop are also available during Office Hours, their phasers set to ‘stunningly helpful,’ ready to aid you with your quick writing questions.

You don’t need an appointment for any of these services – just mosey on in, space cowboy, and we’ll get you the help you need. There are a few steps you can take to make sure the launch goes smoothly:

  • Bring the details of your assignment with you, if you’re working on something specific. Knowing what you’re working on helps us help you better!
  • Let us know if you’ve already gotten started on your own, so we can start in an appropriate place in the process.

If you’re looking for help with all this space-age media that surrounds you, you can also visit the UGL for a Media Commons consultation. We’ve got all your needs covered – so why don’t you pop into our orbit and get some help? It’s only logical.

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Study Tips for the Midterm Craziness

Fellow UGLers, midterms are here, and let me guess: you are all scrambling to finish those projects (which you left at the last minute because you’re the king/queen of procrastination) and cramming for those midterm exams. Don’t worry; you’re not the only one.  In a time of craziness, how does one handle such work and stress? Have no fear, the UGL is here to help and guide you through it.

Cluttered desk with sandwich

A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, so organize that desk and mind!

Keep calm and write a list

What do you have to do? Write down all the assignments and projects and when they are due and what exams you have to study for. Prioritize these on your list and as you complete each one, you’ll feel the satisfaction of getting work done and crossing it off!

Begin studying

Everyone has a different way of studying. What is your way? Is it flashcards or working in a group? Some people work best individually; if this is the case for you, the UGL has a quiet area in the lower level with many areas and tables available to you. If you do better with your classmates around, book a collaboration room to make sure you have a spot to meet in! Rewriting your notes can be a huge help when trying to remember the material, and going over any past tests can refresh your memory.  Remember that everyone is different, so go with the strategy best for you.

If you need help, ask for it!

Sometimes, we’re too proud to ask for help, but these are your classes and grades we’re talking about here, so keeping it to yourself might not pay off. Know the office hours for your professor and go to them if you don’t understand something.  If you need help with a writing piece, check out the writer’s workshop at the UGL. Make an appointment to make sure someone can see you.

Need help with research? Look for the reference desk at the UGL, located on the upper level, in front of the entrance. When unsure about a certain source, ask for help from the blue-vested librarians there. We are more than happy to help! If you can’t find us at the desk, there are other ways to ask a librarian that may be more convenient – Twitter or SMS, for example.

You can also get research help and quick writing help during Office Hours @ the UGL, in room 291 from 7-9 PM on Tuesdays and 2-4 PM on Wednesdays. We’ll tell you more about that next week, so stay tuned.

Take care of yourself, both mentally and physically

Classes can be stressful, but midterms can cause even more anxiety. It is important to take care of your health and mental well-being. Take a study break and do some exercise, or go home and make a healthy meal (cut fruit with yogurt and granola is delicious). When you’re ready for a longer break, go to the lower level of the UGL and check out the movies available. After a productive study session, reward yourself with a movie or a video game!

Remember, find what study strategies are good for you and go with it! You’ll make it. We’ll all make it.

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Spotlight on…Pop Culture Universe

Can you believe we’re already six weeks into the semester? It’s almost time for midterms, and with those come papers and projects that require research. You know the UGL is here for all your research needs. And if you need research pop culture, we’ve got just the thing for you: Pop Culture Universe.

Many different aspects and eras of pop culture are covered.

More than you ever wanted to know about Madonna (and other pop culture icons!)

Pop Culture Universe is a database containing articles about fads and trends in pop culture throughout history. Starting largely with the 1900s, it allows you to find articles and resources in a variety of ways. To get to Pop Culture Universe, start at the UGL homepage, and click on that handy “Find Articles” link under the Easy Search box. Once you’re on our Find Articles guide, you’ll find Pop Culture Universe under “Starting Points,” with other general subject databases recommended for your research.

You can get started searching using the Quick Search function, located in the top right corner of the database’s homepage. Just type in your keyword or phrase, click the search icon, and you’re well on your way delving into the depths of popular culture.

The database also has ways you can browse for information. One of those is to see major trends by decade. You can see a basic introduction of each decade from the 1900s to the 2000s, as well as articles that highlight popular movements, like baseball in the 1920s or MTV in the 1980s.

Each decade has a dedicated section.

Find quick, easy resources to learn about the Roaring 20s or the dotcom era.

Another way to find information in Pop Culture Universe is to use the “Idea Exchange” where the database poses a question, and offers articles featuring divergent opinions and responses. This is great for understanding how pop culture fits into the larger context of history.

Articles are presented as possible resources for answering common questions.

See multiple perspectives on a topic, all in one convenient place.

One final way Pop Culture Universe makes it way too easy to expand your knowledge is to use their Advanced Search option, which allows you input multiple pieces of information in one search. Selecting the Advance Search option lets you input keywords, select a decade, and narrow to a particular topic area, all at the same time. For example, a search for “grunge” in the decade of the 1990s, and the topic area of “fashion” nets article relating to how grunge music influenced fashions in the 90s.

See? We want to make it easy for you to find everything you need. If you have problems using Pop Culture Universe (or any library resource!) come visit us during Office Hours @ the UGL or chat us up online. We’re waiting.

Find other posts in the Spotlight On… series here.

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