The STL details are described in many places online (see the CS377 webpage for some links), and there's a very quick introduction in Section A.14. Here are just a few additional notes: Function calls in C++ pass by value, making a copy of the argument. If you need to modify the argument, or if making a copy of a large object would be consume too much time and memory, then passing by reference (a pointer) is often preferable.
Similarly, many of the STL methods (e.g. insert(), etc) are set up to pass potentially large objects by value, rather than by reference. For this reason, one might want to create objects composed of pointers, rather than objects. For example, if you wanted a queue-of-queues, with larger datasets, you'd probably want to use a queue-of-pointers-to-queues instead, such as
queue > my_queue;