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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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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Statistically Speaking…

What people at the "10 items of less" line at the supermarket have: it's mostly more than 10 items.

Data we’ve all witnessed in action…

When you’re doing research, statistics can be excellent evidence to support your topic or claim. After all, data don’t lie. But finding the perfect statistics for your research can be a little trickier. But don’t worry, the library’s got loads of starting points when charts and graphs and numbers (oh, my!) are what you need to find.

Before you start searching for stats, though, we’ve got a couple of tips for you. First, it might seem like data-collectors have probably collected data on every possible scenario under the sun, right? For example, if you are researching how many times people posted on Twitter about the 2013 Academy Award winners in relation to the TV ratings for this year’s ceremonies compared to past years, you should be able to find stats on that, right? Well… Maybe, but maybe not.

First, the Oscars were, like, just last weekend, so there probably hasn’t been a ton of data collected on them yet. Also, one person may’ve collected data on the TV ratings, and another person may’ve tallied Twitter reactions to the Oscar winners (how cute was Jennifer Lawrence when she tripped, btw? Team Katniss!), but they may not have necessarily put the two together. So, here are a few things to keep in mind when you are thinking about what kinds of stats you’d like to find:

  • How recent does the information need to be? Some data takes time to collect, and the most recent data may not be available. Is it okay if your data is from last year? Or even maybe 2010 or 2011? 
  • Some events are too recent to have much data collected at all, so that’s another consideration.
  • If you are looking at how different elements compare to one another, you may have to find your stats in more than one place. For example, you might be the first person in the world to think about comparing professional athletes’ salaries with the money each athlete’s respective college made on sports income while said athlete played there. So, you might have to find data on pro salaries in one place, and data on college sport income in another, and then compare them yourself.
  • Is your research topic something that has statistics at all? Remember, in order for there to be statistics, someone, somewhere (we like to imagine in a white lab coat) needs to collect the raw data that turns into statistics. If no has has collected data on your topic, there might not be a lot of statistics.

That being said, there are still plenty of ways to find statistics—and plenty of ways to get help, too! If you want to browse a few starting points (conveniently organized by subject area), head to the UGL homepage and click on “Find” in the upper right corner.

The 'Find' button is in the top-most navigation menu on the UGL homepage.

The “Find” page is your link to locating all sorts of goodies!

Once on the “Find” page, scroll down to the bottom, and click on “Statistics.”

The statistics page is listed amongst many other helpful pages.

Tips on finding Statistics, among many, many other things!

The Find Statistics page lists a whole bunch of great places to start, including general starting points, which cover a lot of federal information and demographic info culled from census data. We’ve also got places to look for stats relating to Business & Economics, Crime, Education, Government, Health, Historical Statistics, Illinois-specific information, International info, and Psychology & the Social Sciences.

If you’re feeling really ambitious, the Government Information Services Library has an even more detailed list of starting points.

Of course, even if you find some potential stats, navigating your way through the data can still be a little daunting at first. You’re more than welcome to stop by the research desk, Ask A Librarian via chat, swing by Office Hours @ the UGL or make an appointment with a librarian who specializes in government information or other data services. We’re always happy to help you search for the stats that will really make your research shine!

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