Author Archives: Becky Butler

The Research To-Dos

Your professor told you that this assignment would take all semester. You had every intention of starting your research early. You were going to divide the work over the course of weeks and carefully approach your paper. You were gonna nail this assignment.

And then life happened. Your big paper is due in a week (or in two days, or tomorrow. . .) and you are PANICKING. What are you going to do?

Your friendly reference librarian is here to help you in your hour of need!

Break the project down.

Read the assignment one more time. What is your professor looking for? Do you need to convince them of something? Do you need to compare and contrast things? Is it simply an informative paper? Once you know what your prof wants, the next step will be much easier.

Create your research questions.

After you know what the assignment is and what your prof wants, identify what questions will meet those needs. What do you need to know to persuade someone of your position? If you need to compare and contrast things, what do you need to know about the two topics?

Start the research.

Now, this step can be remarkably tricky. You may worry you don’t know how. You’re not sure your research questions are right. You don’t know what keywords are the best.

But you wanna know a secret? Research is all trial-and-error. While there are definitely best practices, the key is just to start. If you don’t find anything the first time you search, great! Now you know you need different search terms.

If you get really stuck, you can always contact the Virtual Reference Desk. This is a great idea if you want to skip a few iterations of the trial-and-error process.

Once you’ve started your research, you’re well on your way to completing your assignment. Congratulations!

See the Research Paper: Step-by-Step guide for more tips.  We’re all pulling for you.

You’ve got this!

When to Use an Encyclopedia

Look, we all know the general rule of thumb: cite your sources unless it’s considered common knowledge. (Or at least, we should all know that. If you didn’t, hey, you learned something new today!)

The More You Know gif

Articles, books, and websites provide you with the complex information you need for most citations.

But what do you do if the piece of knowledge is juuuust on the borderline? What if you need the square mileage of Croatia? Or how many redheads there are in the U.K? Then you may need to turn to an encyclopedia.

An encyclopedia is a source of abbreviated information on specific topics. You can find encyclopedias on countries, racial groups, even dance styles! A great source of encyclopedias in the library’s print collection are on level 1 by the reference desk next to the pendulum.

You can also find online reference collections through the library’s website. For general information, try the Gale Virtual Reference Library or Oxford Reference Online. For more specific information, take a look at ENGnetBASE (for engineering),  APA Handbooks (eBooks from the American Psychological Association), or the Nutrition Care Manual.

Don’t forget, your login for these databases is the same as your Blackboard sign-in. If you have difficulty signing in, check out this troubleshooting guide.

Happy encyclopedia-ing!

Mental Health Resources

It’s . . . been a year. For everyone.

It is not wrong, unreasonable, or weak to be having a hard time. It’s hard to focus on school when there may be some other struggled you’re dealing with. Even your faithful librarians at the Reference Desk are feeling the extra weight. So, here are some resources that are available to support you.

The Student Health and Counseling Center

The Student Health and Counseling Center has many mental and physical health resources available. They are still taking appointments for their counselors, they have suggestions for off-campus resources, and they provide LGBTQ+ community specific support. If you know you want help and aren’t sure where to start, consider heading here.


Endorphins can do wonders for your physical and mental health, so get moving! The Seawolf Sports Complex may still be closed, but did you know there are plenty of Physical Ed and Recreation classes available next semester? Check out your options on UAOnline.

There’s also a fantastic trail system throughout Anchorage, so think about gearing up for the ski/snow bike season. No gear? You’ll find the snow bikes pack down the single track trails beautifully for running and walking.

You could even find dance or yoga classes on Youtube. It doesn’t have to be fancy — just start moving!

National Hopeline

If you or someone you know is considering suicide or self-harm, reach out.  The Student Health and Counseling Center recommends the National Hopeline where you can instantly chat with a volunteer trained in crisis intervention.

If you don’t believe you’re in crisis but are considering suicide, THAT, my friend, is a crisis. We need and want you here with us.

Take care of yourself and ask others to care for you, too.

We love you, Seawolves!


Temporary Folders, Permanent Citation Sanity

Picture this: your web browser is full of tabs, one for each article you’ve found. There’s a Google Doc with hastily copied and pasted citations of more sources. Your inbox is full of even MORE sources you’ve emailed yourself. Your grasp of reality is slowly slipping away as you get swept up in a Citation Cyclone. How do you end this insanity?!

Good news for you — there are a lot of citation management resources out there! The one we’ll talk about here is the temporary folder found on the library.

Here’s how you find it:

Perform QuickSearch of the library catalog. Next to each result, you’ll see a little folder icon.

Image showing where folder is found

Click this button to add a source to a temporary folder. Your list of potential sources will all go to the same temporary folder. You can find the temporary folder in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

NOTE THE WORD TEMPORARY. The contents of this folder do not stay forever. You’ll eventually want to export those sources to add them to your bibliography. You have a few choices here.

You can click “Export To…” to send your sources to a citation tool. Find out more about citation tools here.  These will help you with styling and formatting your citations correctly. You can also print your list of sources or email them to yourself to follow up on later.

Stay sane, stay safe, and try out the temporary folder today!



Off-Campus Access Troubleshooting

The Reference Desk has been seeing a fair number of questions about login errors when folks are trying to login for off-campus access to databases (see this guide for more info on that!). We appreciate that this can be incredibly frustrating!

Gif of Taylor Swift screaming

Here are a couple suggestions to get you logged in and at the articles you need.

Make sure you are using your Blackboard credentials

Only type in the username part of your university email address (leave off the

See if Caps Lock is on

Check that you are logging in for off-campus access and not into your card account

Image of off-campus access login page

What your login screen SHOULD look like

Image of Card Account Login

What your login screen should NOT look like

See if you can still login to Blackboard.  If you can’t, you may need to reset your password or contact university IT.

In fact, if all else fails, just go ahead and reset your password at

Remember, you can always ask the Reference Desk for back-up if you’re feeling frustrated. We can walk you through these steps and be your moral support!