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An archive is a collection of historical documents that documents the life or developments of a person or organization.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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Extra, Extra!: News Sources

Are you in need of information about current events? Or are you searching for news reports and newspaper articles about things that happened in the past? Well, have we got news for you. There are plenty of ways to find out what’s going on in the world and what led up to it, all using resources on the library website.

If you’re looking for information about current events, your first stop should be the UGL’s very own How Do I…? page. Look for the link in the top right-hand corner of the UGL’s main page, in the main menu bar. Once you’re on the How Do I…? page, you’ll find a lot of links for how to find and evaluate various sources.. If you scroll down to the section labeled “Find Other Types of Sources,” you should see a link for “Current News/Events Information.”

List of guides to finding resources

The page also helps you find books, reserves, and articles, if you need those.

This link will take you directly to our guide for keeping up with news sources. It includes library resources, links to several major news sites, and tips for keeping up with the news cycle and getting the information you need.

Screencap of current events guide

This page also has news site and a few print materials listed.

If you’d like to watch your news but had to cancel the cable service, you can head over to the Communications Library News Lounge to keep up with international news from 8 different regions.

To find news sources for historical events, find your way to the webpage of the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library (which you can do by using the “Find a Library” link on the main library page). On the left-hand menu of the HPNL page, there’s a link that says “Newspapers.” Clicking on that will take you to the UIUC Library Newspaper Database. This database keeps track of all the newspapers that we currently have at the library, whether in print, microform, or online.

You’ll see four tabs at the top of the screen – these will help you find the newspapers you’re looking for. The first will let you search for the title of any newspaper to see if we own it. The second will let you browse a list of historical newspapers that are available, while the third will give you a browseable list of current newspapers.

screencap: tabs for navigating different newspaper collections along top of page

This is the main search page for newspapers. The tabs lead to more specific lists and searches.

These three tabs are for finding the newspaper themselves, not articles – once you’ve selected a newspaper to search, then you can put in your keywords for your topic. For example, if you wanted to find out if there have been any flag burnings on the UIUC campus, you could select the Daily Illini from the list of historical newspapers, and then on the following screen search for “flag burning.”

This post is just to get you started on the road to finding news sources – so if you still have questions, check out the fourth tab on the newspaper database screen, which contains research guides created by the History, Philosophy and Newspaper librarians to give you more in-depth help. If you’re still stumped even after perusing the guide to finding newspapers, don’t worry – you can always ask a librarian for help. Good luck, newsies!

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Not sure where to look? Start here!

Summer is halfway over (say it isn’t so!) and we know that some of you are still busy little bees, working hard to complete your summer courses. We work hard in the summer, too, often updating programs and moving things around to better suit your needs. Sometimes, while the library is rearranging and refreshing, some systems, like the catalog or Interlibrary loan, will be offline for a day or two, making it difficult to find the materials you want. This is your guide to finding everything you need, no matter what.

Photo of book stacks in a library

The UIUC libraries have hundreds of resources available to you, right at your finger tips. So even if you can’t find what you’re looking for with one tool, we usually have another one that can get you to your books, articles, and movies. Here are some good places to search for different types of resources:

  1. Books, movies, and anything else the library physically owns. Start with our catalog. This is your gateway to all the libraries’ holdings. There are links to it on the main library page, and the UGL main page.
    • Where do you go if the catalog’s not working? Try one of our newest search tools, Primo. You can follow that link, or find it linked on the main library page under the easy search box. This tool will search for not only books, but articles, journals, and other electronic resources as well. So if you’re only interested in books, make sure to select “UIUC library catalog” from the drop-down menu next to the search box.
    • If the catalog is offline, the information in Primo will be a ‘snapshot’ of what was available when the catalog was last working. The book you’re looking for may have been checked out in the meantime, but you can find out if we own it and where we keep it!
  2. Books that are owned by other libraries. Even with millions of books available, sometimes the one you need will be already be checked out, or missing. In these cases, you can use I-share to search for your item in libraries across the state that share books with us. Use the link we just provided, or choose “All I-Share Libraries” from the drop-down menu next to the search bar in the catalog.
    Drop-down menu options include Local Catalog Only and All I-Share Libraries - choose I-Share to search widely.

    Like this!

    • If you still can’t find what you need, you can request it through Interlibrary loan. You can follow that link to the ILLiad login screen (ILLiad is the system that lets you access Interlibrary Loan), or find it on the main library page under “Borrowing and Renewing Materials.” Log in with your NetID and password, then choose “Request a Book.” Fill in the details it asks for, then click “Submit Request” to send the information whizzing along to a librarian, who will work to find your items at another library and get them to you. But note: Sometimes, this system will go down, too, so make sure you’ve searched I-Share first. If it’s really not available, ask a friendly librarian for help.
  3. Articles, journals, and other electronic resources. There are so many ways to search for articles and journals, because you have access to hundreds of databases as a UIUC student. If you know a specific database that you want, you can find a link to it using the Online Journals and Databases search. Or you can use the UGL’s Find Articles Guide to help you choose a good place to start. If, though, you are looking for a particular article or journal, and you know the title, author, publication date, etc., you can use a really nifty tool called the Journal and Article Locator to search for only the item you’re interested in. Just fill in your citation information and voila, links to the article will appear on your screen. The JAL is also available from the library main page, listed under “Article Resources.”
    • If you can’t find the article you need using any of those methods, Interlibrary Loan can also help you with that! Just log into ILLiad through the main library page like you would for a book, but select “Request a Photocopy” instead. Fill in the information you have about the articles, and librarians will request a copy of it for you from an institution that owns it.

When all else fails you can always Ask a Librarian through chat, email, phone, or in person. We’re waiting to answer your questions and help you find the resources you need to succeed.

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Spotlight on…American Fact Finder

In these final frantic weeks of the school year, you may find yourself needing some stats for final projects and papers. If you’re not sure where to get started, we have a lot of resources to help, but if you know you need stats about American people, businesses, industries, or markets, then try American Fact Finder’s Guided Search tool to get exactly what you need.

Screen shot of American Fact Finder homepage shows many options for finding informaiton.
American Fact Finder is hosted by the U.S. Census and is a good source for data about agriculture, education, employment, health, law, etc. Their website features valuable links to other official statistical resources, both domestic and international. Using the Guided Search tool enables you to tell the database exactly what you’re looking for, in an easy, step-by-step format.

To get to American Fact Finder, you simply start at the UGL homepage, and click on “How do I?” in the top right corner:

screenshot: How Do I link is in top-most navigational menu on UGL homepage

From there, you’ll look for the heading for “Find Sources” and then click on “Statistics”:

screenshot: Statistics are listed under 'find other types of sources'

Finally, you’ll see a selection of databases designed for statistics, and you’ll click on “American Fact Finder”:

screenshot: on statistics page, American FactFinder is listed under 'starting points'

Once you’re in the database, you’ll see an option on the left side of your screen for “Guided Search.” Just select that option, and follow the link to get started.

screenshot: Guided Search is a good search option to start with if you're unfamiliar with the resource.

The guided search tool will now walk you through several steps to help you narrow  the information you can access. You start with selecting what kind of information you want (like people, industries, housing, or a specific table or dataset). Next you’ll choose topic areas (like age, education, race, etc.), then location (or geography), and on until you can see results that match your criteria. You can add as many topics, geographies, etc., as you like.

screenshot: the guided search gives you many options to refine your search.

Then the database will give you tables and stats based on your criteria, and you can also easily see what census the information has pulled from, so you know how recent it is. Pretty nifty, huh? This is only one librarian-approved source for statistics. If you find yourself needing other types of stats, check out the UGL’s statistics guide for more great sources of information.

Find other posts in the Spotlight On… series here.

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Poetry is Slammin’

April is National Poetry Month! Poetry can be a great way to express yourself, and some of the world’s greatest literary works take the form of poems. Celebrate this month of poets, rhythm, meter, metrical patterns, stanzas, alliteration, diction and form by learning about one of the library’s many poetry resources.

National Poetry Month was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets.

Online Resources

  • MLA International Bibliography
    This database is your first stop for literary criticism and analysis of novels, short stories, poems, etc.
  • Literature Resource Center
    This database is a bio-bibliographical guide to writers in fiction, general nonfiction, poetry, journalism, drama, motion pictures, television, and other fields. It’s searchable by name, title of work, subject/genre, nationality, date and place of birth, honors, awards and more.
  • Contemporary American Ethnic Poets: Lives, Works, Sources
    This one-stop guide to 75 contemporary American poets from 12 different ethnicities includes biographical sketches, thematic discussions, and more.
  • Greenwood Companion to Shakespeare Vol. 4: The Romances & Poetry
    This nifty tool has prose interpretations of Shakespeare’s sonnets!
  • Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets & Poetry
    Separated into 5 volumes, this handy encyclopedia lists both author and poem topics alphabetically, making it easy to locate info on a specific writer, or find sweet poetry about everything from the Black Arts Movement to Visual Poetry.
  • Thematic Guide to British Poetry
    This guide offers interpretations of 415 poems, representing the work of over 110 poets spanning seven centuries of British poetry.
  • Poetry Tool
    Online archive of full text poetry with a robust search engine. It also includes numerous articles, podcasts, and audio on poets and poetry, brought to you by the Poetry Foundation.

Books & More
You can also search the library catalog by poem title, author or genre for books of poetry and books about poetry and poets. If you’re looking for some recommendations, check out our Poetry! Pinterest Board. And if you’re really feeling inspired, sign up to receive a Poem-A-Day via email, courtesy of Poets.org.

Still not finding that perfect poetry source? Ask a Librarian for help, and poetic justice shall surely be yours!

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