How many books do UC Irvine’s libraries contain? What is “Zot, Zot, Zot!”? If you answered 3.5 million and the Anteaters’ rallying cry, you may have a campus tour guide to thank.

About 30,000 visitors each year learn UCI trivia from student guides. The hourlong tour gives prospective students, parents and school groups a glimpse into campus life and culture. On average, college-bound teens visit eight campuses before deciding on one.

“Tour guides are the face of UCI. It’s their job to bring the campus alive,” says Bryan Jue, assistant director of visitor services. “Visitors don’t remember building names, but they do remember stories and personal anecdotes.”

Biological sciences senior Liz Seward has led more than 200 tours since her sophomore year. “A pro at walking backward,” she keeps a 2-inch-thick folder of campus facts handy but rarely consults it.

“The best tours are when visitors ask questions and get involved,” Seward says.

Training for the job, which starts at $8.50 an hour, includes a “Jeopardy!”-style UCI trivia competition and a series of mock campus tours. Guides are given a script and encouraged to personalize it with their own anecdotes.

For Seward, that includes studying fMRI brain scans in a cognitive sciences research lab and taking honors chemistry from Nobel laureate F. Sherwood Rowland.

Jackie Jacaban, a high school junior in Corona, recently took a campus tour with her sister, Brenda Eguilos, a 2003 graduate of The Paul Merage School of Business.

“It gave me a pretty good feel for the campus and student life,” says Jacaban, who’s interested in UCI’s nursing program. “It was packed with information and details.”

Walking tours of the campus depart at noon Monday through Friday from the UCI Visitor Center. More:

Did you know?

  • UCI Libraries has a first-edition folio (1623) of William Shakespeare’s plays. Students can view by appointment in the Special Collections section of Langson Library.
  • UCI’s founding architect, William Pereira, designed LAX, part of the Kennedy Space Center, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He also originated the concept of master-planned communities, such as the city of Irvine.
  • Academy and Emmy awards belonging to Claire Trevor are on permanent display at the Claire Trevor Theatre. Trevor won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 1948’s “Key Largo,” co-starring Humphrey Bogart.
  • UCI alumnus Roy Fielding is a principal author of HTTP, the underlying protocol for transferring information on the World Wide Web.
  • The bronze anteater in front of the Bren Events Center weighs 430 pounds and was designed by sculptor Bill Fitzgerald, who also created UCLA’s Bruin Bear.
  • Nike tested its ski apparel in UCI’s Wind Tunnel Lab.
  • UCI’s National Fuel Cell Research Center was chosen by Toyota to test the first commercial-ready, hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle in the U.S.
  • There are more than 24,000 trees on the UCI campus; Aldrich Park has 33 species of eucalyptus.
  • The School of Humanities’ master’s program in writing accepts 12 students a year – six in poetry and six in fiction. Well-known alumni include Michael Chabon and Alice Sebold. The program has consistently been rated among the nation’s top by U.S. News & World Report.