It has begun: Finals week is here

As most of you already know, finals week has arrived. It’s that time of the year where everyone is pulling all nighters and frantically searching for those notes they took back in January.  Remember that the UGL will be open 24 hours, 7 days a week until Friday, May 15th at 7 PM. In order to ease your stress, the UGL also has some study tips for productivity and success.

Tip 1: Make a list

Make a list of all the tasks you have to do! Photo courtesy of John. Schultz via Flickr Media Commons

Make a list of all the tasks you have to do! Photo courtesy of John. Schultz via Flickr Media Commons

Create a list of everything that has to be done this week. This includes school and non-school work. It works best if you make a list, but separate the two. Then, prioritize and organize. Finals week is a time of great stress and sometimes you forget that the electric bill is due because you were too busy concentrating on a paper.

Tip 2: Review, review, review

Review the concepts. Photo courtesy of wudzt via Flickr Commons

Review the concepts. Photo courtesy of wudzt via Flickr Commons

Review your notes everyday. Looking over class notes for about 10 or 15 minutes per day can be helpful in retaining information. Don’t wait until the day before the exam to study all the material.

Tip 3: Study aids

Study Aids. Photo courtesy of Yin Tung Ho via Flickr Media Commons

Study Aids. Photo courtesy of Yin Tung Ho via Flickr Media Commons

Study aids can be a great resource for not only finals week, but for tests or quizzes. Check out the subject guides that the Undergraduate Library has to offer. You’ll find a variety of different topics. If you want a little study break mixed with productivity, check out the UGL’s Pinterest board on study tips. On our study tips board, there are some cool infographics you can check out. See? You can still have fun while doing something productive.

Tip 4: Communication with your Professor or TA

Go to office hours. Photo courtesy of Nathan Wagoner

Go to office hours. Photo courtesy of Nathan Wagoner via Flickr Media Commons

Is there something you just don’t understand? Talk to your TA or Professor. Find out if they have office hours, if not, email. Communicating to your teacher about difficulties is key. Forming study groups is also a good idea. Learning concepts with a group of people can be beneficial. You never know, they might have the same questions as you.

Tip 5: Summary sheet

Make a summary sheet so that you cover all the concepts in class. Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley

Make a summary sheet so that you cover all the concepts in class. Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley via Flickr Media Commons

In order to go over everything that was taught in the class, develop a summary sheet for yourself. This way, you will have no surprises and it will also refresh your memory. Summary sheets can be done for each class.

Tip 6: Quiz yourself

Quiz yourself. Photo courtesy of Matt Cornock via Flickr Media Commons

Quiz yourself. Photo courtesy of Matt Cornock via Flickr Media Commons

Make a mini-quiz for yourself in order to see if you are retaining all that information. It doesn’t have to be long, maybe 5 or 7 questions. These quizzes will also allow you to gauge your knowledge and what you might need to work on.

Tip 7: Take a break every once in a while! All of this studying can be stressful and you need to take some time to your self. Did you know that the UGL has a gaming center? Come take a study place with your friends. The UGL also has a great media selection. Watching a comedy or horror movie will ease your study time from finals.

Tired of studying? Take a nap! Photo courtesy of The LEAF Project via Flickr Media Commons

Tired of studying? Take a nap! Photo courtesy of The LEAF Project via Flickr Media Commons

If you need help with research or anything else, come to the UGL and ask us! or, if you’re at home and need immediate help, go to Ask a Librarian. Good luck with finals, you’re almost there.



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UGL 101: Subject Guides

As the year comes to an end, we have projects, papers, and all sorts of things going on. It can be a bit overwhelming, but if you know the resources available and where to find them, it doesn’t have to be that bad. Our UGL 101 for this week is the library’s subject guides.

For those who have taken a rhetoric or communications class, you have class guides available. These guides were made specifically for your class and have great resources for your speech or research needs. Class pages include CMN 101, CMN 111, ESL 112/115, LAS 100, Rhetoric, and Rhetoric 233-Ricketts.

CMN 101 Subject Guide

CMN 101 Subject Guide

We have more subject guides available that cover a wide variety of topics. If you go to the UGL website and click on “subject guides”, below the search bar, you can browse or search the subject guides.

Now, there are hundreds of subject guides, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be overwhelming. If you’d like to browse to see what we have, no problem! Click on a subject, which are organized alphabetically. You can also browse by keyword.

Once you have selected your guide, there are a couple of resources available in them. For example, let’s say we’re looking at the “Natural Disasters” subject guide. In this guide, we will find an infographic on the first page of links to starting research points. These resources include government websites, statistics, and subject databases. The tabs for this subject guide are background information, ways of finding articles and books, and credible websites related to this topic.

Natural Disasters Subject Guide.

Natural Disasters Subject Guide.

The UIUC Library has subject guides for tons of topics. Chances are, we have a subject guide for your research paper! If not, we’re always here to help. Come get help at Office Hours from Sunday to Friday 1-5, at a desk in front of the Writer’s Workshop.

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April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the United States. The Women’s Resource Center on campus has been having events all month, with more still to come in the next week. Read on to find out how to participate, and how the library can help you learn more about understanding and preventing sexual violence.

A teal ribbon is one symbol of the campaign against sexual assault.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia user MesserWoland

The official Women’s Resource Center SAAM site has a listing of all the events that have happened so far, and the ones still to come. Upcoming events for this week include a Take Back the Night march and a Denim Day display on the quad. You can find a full listing of events on the WRC page.Both Take Back the Night and Denim Day are nation-wide events with their own websites, where you can learn about their history and (if you’re off-campus) possibly find an event near to you.

Whether your on-campus or off, many of the events and campaigns held during Sexual Assault Awareness Month have as their end goal of educating people about the problems of sexual assault. If you’ve been educated about an issue, such as sexual assault, you’re better prepared to put an end to it, or improve it. If you’re unable to attend any of these events, the library, as a place concerned with the sharing of knowledge, can help you educate yourself and become a better ally to those who need your help. There’s a subject guide on rape and sexual assault that can help you find books and articles on those subjects and further your knowledge. Here’s another guide about sexual harassment, which is a related topic you can educate yourself about and help prevent. Searching in the catalog for subjects like “Rape Prevention” can also bring up informative and helpful books, such as Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape.

If you want help researching sexual assault, you can ask a librarian for help. If you need personal help coping with sexual assault, the Women’s Resource Center has lists of campus and community resources that you can look to for assistance. No matter what you need, somone can help you find it.


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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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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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Presidential Picks

Presidents carved in stone.

Mount Rushmore photo courtesy of fotopedia

Because we’re all about celebrating holidays here in the UGL, we’d like to draw your attention to Presidents’ Day! Celebrated this year on Monday, Feb. 18, the holiday was originally established to honor George Washington’s birthday, but it’s since morphed into a standard federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February. Either way, we think it’s a great excuse to showcase some of our resources for researching the U.S. presidency.

Finding Background Info

  • The American Presidents
    Provides an overview and additional reading for each administration from George Washington through Bill Clinton
  • Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns and Elections
    This online encyclopedia has entries on contemporary American politics, including explanations of many of the most commonly used political terms and jargon
  • The Presidency A to Z
    Contains more than 300 entries related to the U.S. Presidency
  • American National Biography
    Contains 17,435 biographical articles on deceased Americans and includes men and women that were significant in politics, scholarship, science, sports, business, theater, film, and activism

Subject Guides

  •  History of the U.S. Presidency
    This subject research guide contains information on find background info, stats, journal articles and more for any research related to the U.S. President and the Executive Branch
  • Presidential Campaigns and Elections
    This subject research guide has loads of information for researching presidential campaigns, campaign history, election reform and more

Doing research on the presidents not your thing? Don’t worry—Hollywood is more than adept at glamming up the Executive Office for film and TV. Why don’t you kick back and celebrate the holiday with one of the famous leading men (and one woman!) who played Commander-in-Chief instead? Just a partial list to get you going…

All the President's Men DVD cover: Dustin Hoffman is shorter than Robert Redford, but they are both serious.All The President’s Men
What’s better than a couple of enterprising reporters breaking open one of the biggest scandals in Presidential history? Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman playing said reporters, of course.

Battlestar Galactica
In this sci-fi space odyssey, the last remaining members of humanity must protect themselves from the evil Cylons—all under the fearless leadership of Madame President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell).

Deep Impact
While the other meteor-will-destroy-Earth movie from 1998 was much more entertaining (Armageddon, for those of you keeping score at home), Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of President Beck in Deep Impact was harder-hitting. (Pun intended.)

Frank Langella does his best “I am not a crook!” impersonation of President Nixon in this Oscar-nominated version of the famous post-Watergate interview between Nixon and British TV host David Frost.

Independence Day
Bill Pullman kicks some serious butt as President of the U.S.A. (and, really, all of the remaining world) after aliens decide to destroy Earth. Between President Thomas J. Whitmore and Will Smith, we’re pretty sure we can take whatever E.T. can dish out.

Who killed JFK? In Oliver Stone’s classic conspiracy theory flick, District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) tries to find out.

The West Wing
Martin Sheen plays President Jed Bartlett in Aaron Sorkin’s fast-paced, sharp-tongued take on the American White House in the late ’90s/early ’00s.

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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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Get to know UGL Subject Guides – Research Made Easier!

Have you ever been asked to write a paper on an issue of your choosing and had no idea what to choose? Or maybe you’ve been assigned topic for a paper, but you didn’t know where to begin your research?

You’re not alone!  Finding credible information (for your academic AND personal research pursuits) is not always easy.  That’s why our libraries here at the University of Illinois create subject guides – online research guides on a range of different topics that direct you to relevant, credible resources both online and in the library.

The Undergraduate Library continues to build its list of subject guides on an ongoing basis.  Based on our interactions with undergraduate students, we identify popular research areas and create guides on those topics so students can find information more easily.  Topics our guides cover range from identity theft to same sex marriage to the hpv vaccine and cervical cancer.  Students who use them seem to love them, and we want to be sure YOU know how to use them and where to find them!  So here’s the 411 on subject guides.

What are subject guides?

Subject guides (sometimes referred to as “research guides” or “LibGuides”) are  online research guides on specific topics or subject areas that help direct you to credible resources you can access online and in the library.

How do I find subject guides?

Here’s a list of all the Undergraduate Library’s subject guides.  Don’t see what you’re looking for? Check out the entire collection of research guides prepared by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign libraries.  Still not finding what you need? Send us an email or comment on this blog post to let us know about a subject area or topic you’d like for us to create a guide on.

How do I use subject guides?

Good question.  Subject guides are not designed to do the research for you, they’re designed to help you find credible research articles, books, websites and other resources more easily.  Let’s walk through the different tabs of an Undergraduate Library subject guide:

screenshot of subject guide

Navigational tabs help you find specific kinds of relevant resources quickly.


By clicking on this tab, you’ll find brief summary in the center of the page under “topic overview” explaining what the topic entails.


Did your professor ask you to steer clear of Wikipedia?  The “suggested reference sources” listed under the “background” tab of the subject guides provides a list of credible reference sources –many of which are accessible online — to help give you a better understanding of your topic.

Statistical Info

Finding statistics can be tricky.  In this section, we’ve compiled a list of resources you can turn to to find statistics on your topic.  Still, you might have trouble finding the exact statistic you want, and you may need help thinking about what kinds of statistics related to your topic exist.  If you’re having trouble, as always…feel free to ask a Librarian!

Finding Articles

The library subscribes to hundreds of databases that provide you with access to articles from academic journals, newspapers, magazines, and more. How do you decide which database to choose?  The “Finding Articles” tab on our subject guides helps direct you to databases that are relevant to your topic.  What’s more, when you click the “finding articles” tab in a subject guide, you’ll also see a list of suggested keywords (along the left-hand side of the screen) that you can use when searching the databases on that topic.

Finding Books

Sometimes you need more in depth information on a topic, and books can be a good place to turn.  Under the “finding books” tab, you’ll find links to the library catalog, along with recommended keywords for searching the catalog on your topic.

Internet Sites

The “internet sites” tab provides a list of recommended websites you can turn to to learn more about your topic.

Organization Websites

Under this tab, you’ll find links to different organizational websites that provide further information related to your topic.  Often, the resources listed in the  “organization websitesare government or other non-profit organizations that are directly involved in responding to or coordinating efforts related to the specific subject guide topic.

That’s a basic overview of subject guides at the UGL.  Let us know if you have any questions, or would like to see subject guides on different topics!

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