A Day in the Life: Jake

Have you ever wondered what a librarian’s job looks like?  Or what exactly the faculty and staff members at the Undergraduate Library do during the day? We’d like to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the UGL in our new blog series “A Day in the Life.”

A day in the life at the UGL
Due to high student use of the Media Commons and the recent media attention of the sound booth, we thought we would introduce you to Jake, our Media Commons Technology Support Specialist.

Jake is responsible for connecting students, staff, and faculty at UIUC to all the technology the Media Commons has to offer. When he isn’t working at his desk, you can find him all over the UGL, teaching students how to effectively use technology to create, edit, and produce quality digital media. Whether you want to use high end media editing software, need help shooting a video project in front of the green screen in the video production studio, or want to record a podcast in the sound booth, Jake is your guy.

Image of Media Commons computer with editing software

Need help? Ask Jake.

The best part about working in the Media Commons, Jake says, is that it offers everyone–undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff– the opportunity to create their own digital media on professional-quality technology.

Recently, Jake has been working hard to move, test, and set up the equipment in the sound booth to get it up and running for you. When asked about his favorite technology in the Media Commons, Jake replied that he is pretty pumped about the sound booth set- up and is excited to collaborate with students to take their audio projects to a higher level.

Jake’s passion for audio recording carries over into his work outside of the Undergraduate Library. Check out what Jake does on the weekends by visiting UrbanaBasement.com, a web series highlighting the live music scene in the Champaign-Urbana area.

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UGL 101: New Sound Booth

Hey UGL-ers, it’s time we addressed the elephant in the room. And by elephant, we mean the huge metal structure that has taken over a corner of the lower level this past year. We would like to officially introduce you to the newest member of the Media Commons collection–the sound booth!

Sound booth on the lower level of the UGL

Large metal structure = professional quality sound booth.

Like the video production room on the upper level, the sound booth is a space for students, faculty, and staff to create high-quality digital media projects. Need an interview to complete a class project? Want to record your latest podcast? As a UIUC student, the sound booth is available to you! (QB looks forward to using the sound booth to record the answers to all your questions.)

In order to use the sound booth, you will need to contact the Media Commons at mediacommons@illinois.edu in advance to book a reservation. Whether you want to reserve time in the sound booth, ask advice on recording equipment, or just find out more information, the Media Commons staff is here to help! Don’t forget to check out our loanable technology page for any additional equipment you might need, from cameras to microphones or voice recorders.

Now, to answer one final question. We know all too well how difficult the doors at the UGL can be to open, not to mention fitting large pieces of unbending metal through. So, just how did the UGL manage to construct the sound booth in the lower lever?

Crane lowering a section of the sound booth into the UGL courtyard

The things we do for you!

That’s how.

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Know Your Tech: Camera Round-Up

Flip video cameras and Sony Bloggies – they’re the most popular cameras in the UGL’s loanable technology collection, so you’ve probably used them at least once. Our Lumix digital cameras also get a lot of love. If you’re really adventurous, or in need of slightly more profesh video work, you may have even checked out one of our camcorders. But have you truly, fully explored the UGL’s camera offerings? Here’s a roundup of our more specialized cameras that you may not be aware of.

image of webcam

The tiny webcam sees all.

Microsoft LifeCam Studio 1080p HD Webcam

Sure, a lot of laptops come with their own webcams these days. The UGL’s Chromebooks certainly do. They’re not always of the greatest quality, however. When you Skype with your family, do they complain that you look pixelated? Do they have trouble distinguishing your hair from your wall? This webcam might be able to fix that for you. It’s got high-quality video as well as high-fidelity sound, and adjusts for low light situations, such as your dorm room late at night. The fact that it’s not built into your computer means you have more flexibility in the way you use it – why not try these alternative webcam uses? You can keep an eye on your pets from wherever you are!

image of go pro camera

It wants to know if you’re going somewhere exciting!

GoPro Hero 3 Video Camera

Other cameras are fine for home or classroom use, but what if you’re an adventurer? What if you want to have a pet cam, but your pet likes to go rock climbing? The GoPro Hero is here for you. It’s very small – and therefore portable! – and comes with a rugged plastic case that will protect it from all the hard knocks of travel. It’s also waterproof, and has wind-cancelling filters on its audio, and you can attach it to stuff. Seriously, you can take it anywhere. Grab a GPS unit as well, go somewhere crazy, and record all of it.

glorious image of nikon DSLR camera

Who’s the boss? This camera is the shiny, red boss.

Nikon D5200 Digital Camera (DSLR)

Here it is. The big one. The fanciest camera we have. A digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera gives you the convenience and in-camera editing capabilities of a digital camera, with all the manual control of focus, shutter speed, and other photography concerns that you’d get from a film camera. It does video as well! It’s also without a doubt the shiniest camera we have. If you’re just starting out on the DSLR path, the library has plenty of books to help you figure out fancy digital photography.

With all this wonderful equipment at your fingertips, what are YOU going to capture?

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UGL 101: Choosing the right projector

Got a presentation coming up and need a projector to show off your sweet slide show or video? With the UGL’s loanable technology, part of the Media Commons, we stock what you need, whether it’s something heavy duty and super-bright or tiny enough to fit in your pocket.

Optoma ML500

optomo ml 500 projector

Nothing too fancy here, just a basic, easy-to-use portable projector. It’s bright, with a wide screen and great color display, and it comes with a remote control. At under 2.5 pounds, it can be carried anywhere, and it allows you to connect to laptops, Blu-Ray players, and game systems. Don’t have any of those? You can also present directly from a USB or SD card. It’s that easy.

Optoma DW339 3-D Multimedia Projector

optomo dw 339 3-d multimedia projector

Similar to the Optoma ML500, but with a bit more spunk. The DW339 projects a larger wide-screen image, has a bit brighter display, and allows you to connect from HDMI, VGA, S-video, composite video, audio-in, audio-out, RS-232 and USB-B. Like the ML500, it also has a remote control to make it even easier for you to look like a total pro. Now we’re getting fancy.

3M MP225 Mobile Projector

3M Mobile Projector

If you need a projector on the go and aren’t concerned about it being the brightest, largest display, this is the tool for you. It’s tiny enough to carry in your own bag, and it will connect to almost anything: iPhones, iPads, computers, gaming systems, and dvd players. (Some of these may need a special cord, and you can borrow those, too.) It also will run on a battery for up to 2 hours, so there’s no need to keep it close to a power outlet if you charge it up first.

Epson MovieMate 62

Epson movie mate projector

This baby is built for media entertainment. It’s the only projector that has a built-in dvd player, and it’s amazingly bright (about 2000 lumens). It also has built-in speakers, and comes with a remote control. It’s perfect for a movie night in.

3M 2000 Portable Overhead Projector

3M overhead projector

A little different than the other projectors available, this one kicks it old school. It will display transparencies (a black print on a clear page), and is great if you have a presentation that doesn’t need any bells and whistles.

Still not sure which one of these is for you? Visit our website for more information. Or stop in and talk with a Media Commons expert about all your technology needs.

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Tell Us What You Think!

Hey, Club UGL. You know we love to hear from you. Whether it’s answering your questions via Ask a Librarian or the research desk, getting your feedback via our suggestions box, or hearing your purchase recommendations, we’re all ears for what you have to say. This week, we’ve got a special survey to solicit your opinions about our loanable technology program.

The tech desk is on the upper level of the UGL near the circ desk.

This is where the magic happens. The magic that you will influence, via this survey.

We are constantly seeking to expand and improve what’s available in our loanable technology pool, and we want to hear from you about how we can best do that. That’s why we’ve created this survey to ask what you think about various topics – iPads and iPad apps, Chromebooks, potential new items, and any other ideas or thoughts you want to share with us. The survey opens today (Monday, October 14th) and runs all the way through next Sunday, October 20th. That’s almost a whole week, so you’ve got plenty of time to mull it over and be thoughtful – but don’t forget! If you’d rather take the survey on paper, that’s an option, too – there will be paper forms attached to the whiteboard near the entrance on the upper level. You can turn completed paper surveys in at the circulation desk (and you might get something nice if you do…).

This week we’re asking for you opinions, but coming up in the next week we’ll have some suggestions for *you* – about events on campus, resources you can use, and a project we’ve been working on. We’re looking forward to hearing from you, and we hope you’ll stick around to hear from us.

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What’s Up With Chromebooks?

You may remember one of our posts from the start of the semester where we mentioned that we’ve replaced our Macbooks and PC laptops with Chromebooks. You may even have checked one out from the loanable technology desk and taken it for a spin. But just what are these strange devices, and how can you make them work for your needs?

Very clever image of Chromebook with question marks

Those question marks will disappear in a puff of learning – just keep reading.

Chromebooks are actually pretty capable and convenient machines, but if you’re unfamiliar with them, they may raise a few questions when you first use them. Here are the answers to some common queries about Chromebooks – read on to get the hang of ‘em and start using them to be productive (or for watching Youtube videos – we don’t judge).

Why is it called a Chromebook?
Chromebooks are laptops that run on Google’s Chrome operating system (OS). Macbooks run on a Macintosh OS, and PCs usually run on a Microsoft Windows OS. The major difference between computer running a Chrome OS and a computer using Windows or Macintosh is that Chrome computers are designed to be used while connected to the Internet, and make use of online applications and programs, rather than applications and programs that are downloaded onto the computer directly.

How do I log in?
When you first open up the Chromebook, it’ll ask you you to log in to a wireless network. To log in to IllinoisNet, use your NetID and password. Then it’ll ask you to log into a Google account to use the Chromebook itself; you can use your NetID and password again, or any another Google account you may have. If you don’t have a Google account that you would like to use, you can log in as a guest. There should be a sticker on the Chromebook that tells you the guest username and password.

How can I open/edit/save my Microsoft Office files?
Chromebooks don’t have Microsoft Office applications like Word or Excel installed. That doesn’t mean you can’t use them to work on your files, though! If you have a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file that you’ve already started, you can upload them to Google Drive, and them open them with Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides, respectively, and make changes to them as you need. Once you’ve made your changes (or if you make a new document and need to save it), you can save it to your Drive as a Google document, or choose to “Save As” in the appropriate file format, to open in Microsoft Office later. If you need help navigating the various Google apps, there are tutorials on the Google Apps site.

What else can I do on a Chromebook?
Anything you can do with a Google account you can do with a Chromebook – general Internet surfing, use of all the Google docs services, and all that good stuff. In addition to the document apps above, there are lots of free apps in the Chrome webstore that can help you work on other kinds of projects, play games, or use various kinds of media. You’ll notice there’s a webcam on the Chromebook we have – if you want to use it, search for the ‘Camera’ app and make your best duck face. Other apps that use the webcam, like Google Hangouts, should automatically detect it.

If you choose to log in as a guest, some options won’t be available, since you won’t be connected to a full personal account. To be able to use all the apps and services of the Chromebook, use a Google account!

What happens to my files and information after I return the Chromebook?
Just like on our old Macs and PCs, all your files and information will be removed from the Chromebook after you return it, using an option called powerwashing. This means that the next person to use the Chromebook won’t see anything you’ve done or be able to access any of your information. Your secrets are safe! This also means that if you forgot to save your work on a file, we won’t be able to recover it, so double-check to make sure all your changes are saved before you log out and return it. Google Drive is a good tool to use for this.

That’s the lowdown on our new Chromebooks. If you still have questions, come to the loanable technology desk on the upper level of the UGL (where you checked it out from!) or Ask a Librarian for help. Good luck and happy app-ing!

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Quick-change Acts

Have you popped in for a visit to the UGL since the semester started? If you have, you’ve probably noticed that things are a lil’ different around here. Don’t get disoriented! We’ve still got all the cool stuff you know and love, and even some new stuff. We just did some shuffling over the summer. Here’s a quick guide to some of the major changes.

New books and periodicals area

Behold: your new chill spot.

First off, the new books and magazines – which used to be on the northern side of the upper level – are now on the shelves on the southern side, near the collaboration rooms. You may notice that this is the same spot where the reference books and career cluster used to be. If you still have need of the style guides or test prep materials that used to be there, fear not! We still have them – we just moved them with the rest of the books downstairs. Ask a librarian to help you find them.

Image of media enclosure

Enter and be enter-tained (cue audience groan)

Speaking of downstairs, we also rearranged our media enclosure, so your favorite movies and audiobooks should be easier to find. The audiobooks are now against the left wall, and the VHS tapes are all huddled together like friends. It’s a much better arrangement, but if you still need a bit of help finding something, ask the nice person in the vest who should be sitting at the table pictured above.

Image of video game decorations

Come to the gaming space to feel the cosmos.

In other entertainment news, the gaming space has also been getting revamped over the summer. Why don’t you come in to check it out? We’ll still be adding things as the fall semester progresses – come see our new stuff as we get it!

Image of print release station

The place to go to find (print) release.

Printing, printing, gotta get that printing done. Printing from our public computers still works the same way it did last year – we’ve just moved the printers to new locations, so don’t panic when you don’t see them right away. Did you know that we also now offer laptop printing? Tada! You’re welcome.

While we’re on the subject of laptops, say hello to the Chromebook:

Image of Chromebook laptop

Why hello there.

The Macbooks and HP laptops that you’ve all gotten so much use out of have outgrown their warranties, and gone off to a happy retirement. These sleek new Chromebooks are now your new best friends. Check one out at the loanable tech desk!

That’s it for now. There have also been some changes to the electronic reserves system for your classes – check back next week so you can read our explanation of those. Good luck and happy studying!

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Pushing Buttons

Looking for yet more ways to have fun this summer? Of course you are. And, of course, the UGL is here to help. We’ve got video games and everything you need to play them, so why not indulge in a gaming marathon before the fall semester starts and your life gets crazy again?

Image of Mario jumping

I’m somewhere in the UGL, eternally jumping! Come find me!

You can always come in and browse the shelves in our media collection to pick out a game, but if you want to see what we have from the comfort of your own home (or see everything we offer, not just what’s currently on the shelf and not checked out) you can also search for video games using the catalog. If you’re comfortable using the Classic Catalog, then we have a  partial list of games for each console linked from the Games and Consoles page. If you’d rather use the VuFind catalog, here are some ways you can search in there.

To see basically every video game ever, go to the catalog and do a search for ‘Video Game,’ selecting ‘Subject’ from the drop-down menu next to the search box. The results this gives you will contain all our video games, but it will also contain books and movies about video games (like this one!).  So, to make sure you get only video games, use the limiters on the right-hand side of the screen to choose ‘Software/Computer File’ as the format. This will take out all those books and give you only games – about 1,700 of them!

If you don’t want to look at all 1,700 results – say, you only want to look at games that we have for a certain console – there’s a way to do that, too. First, decide what console you’re looking for, type that into the search bar, and select ‘Keyword’ as your search criteria. Then hit the ‘Find’ button.

The search box is on the main catalog interface.

If you want to find computer games, ‘PC Games’ is a good search term to use. Don’t worry, it’ll bring up Mac games, too.

Then, like you did before, select ‘Software/Computer File’ as your format to remove any books or non-video game objects from the results.

The format limiter is on the right-hand side of the screen under "narrow your search"

If you DO want books about video games, pick ‘Books’ instead.

You can check video games out for up to a week and play them on your own devices at home, but we also have several handheld consoles available for one-week loans – you can check out the UGL’s Loanable Tech page to check on their availability. And if you want to play a game on a platform you don’t own, remember that we have several available (with all their associated controllers) in our gaming space as part of the Media Commons! Bring all your friends and have a good time. While you’re there, check out the new display showing off selections from our vintage gaming collection – if you don’t go anywhere else this summer, you can always travel down memory lane.

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24 Hour Study People

It’s official. The UGL will not close between now and Thursday, Dec. 20 at 7pm. Adding to our already study-friendly 24/5 schedule (open 24 hours a day, Sunday thru Thursday), in honor of finals week, the UGL will remain open 24 hours this weekend, too.

Su nup to sun down and back to sun up, the UGL will be here for you.

What does this mean for you? You’ve got one more place to add to your study location list. For the most part, all services will be available. Group rooms? Check. Loanable technology? Check. Friendly, capable employees that can help with any of your research questions or library needs? Check, check, check.

The lower level will also remain open 24-hours for quiet study (during the week, it usually closes at 2am) and the media collection (DVDs, etc.) will close at midnight both Friday and Saturday nights (DVD retrieval will still be available by request). Per usual, group study is more than welcome on the upper level. A few other things to remember:

  • If you’re planning to be in the library late, make sure you’ve got a friend to walk you home! (You can also use MTD’s SafeRides between 5pm and 6:30am, and check out other campus safety tips.)
  • Stay hydrated! Beverages (with lids) are welcome in the library, and there are drinking fountains located in the upper level lobby and near rest rooms.
  • No food is allowed in the library. We know this kinda stinks, but dems da rules. We encourage you to bring snacks to eat in the Espresso area (those tables remain available even if Espresso is closed). It’s good to get up and stretch, anyway! And if you don’t want to move all of your stuff, we have laptop locks & lockers to keep your stuff safe while you take a snack break.
  • Printing out a bunch of stuff? Here’s a reminder on how to do it.
  • The Lower Level is for quiet study. Please be respectful of this rule—everyone’s a bit stressed and working under deadlines, so a quiet environment is important. If you need to chat with your group members, talk on your phone or LOL at something funny on the interwebs, please go into one of the lobbies, the courtyard or the Upper Level.
  • Congratulations! You totally knocked out that final paper or studied so hard for your exam your eyeballs almost fell out. Now, you get to leave the UGL. Hooray! Make sure you take all of your stuff and throw away any of your trash. Lots of people will be using this space this weekend, so please help us keep it as tidy as possible.

Good luck on finals, Club UGL. We know you’ve got this!

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Loanable Tech, At Your Service

Cats and students all want to know: can I has this shiny device?
As active and informed members of Club UGL, you obviously know all about our loanable technology options, right? “Of course!” you say. “We check out laptops and chargers and headphones to help us study, all the time!” We know you do, you studious, busy little bees, and we’re glad you get so much use out of them—but don’t forget about all the other tech options that are available to you! For use on assignments or just for funsies and personal projects, we also have cameras, voice recorders, handheld gaming consoles (different kinds!), and tablets—most available for checkout for up to a week at a time. There’s a great big world of shiny technology here for you to explore. Isn’t that exciting?

Not only is our pool of technology large and diverse, but we’re constantly striving to expand it and include more useful gadgets for you. Lately, we’ve been adding lots of video cameras and related equipment for all your amateur and academic videography needs; here are a few we’d like to spotlight and make you more aware of.

The camcorder has a screen that folds out for easier viewing while filming.

It’s a camera! Whee!

HC-V700M HD Camera
If you’re making a video, whether for class or yourself, your primary need is, of course, a camera—and voila, we have just added 10 of these cameras into circulation! They have handy touch-screens to make them more intuitive to work with, and they can capture still images simultaneously with video, at pretty impressive frame rates. These cameras have 16GB of internal memory, but if you need to store even more video, they also accept SD cards. Go ahead, shoot video to your heart’s content!

The tripod is highly adjustable.

Keep it steady.

Tripods
If horror-movie-style shaky cams aren’t what you’re going for in your video project, why not check out a handy tripod to use with your camera? We’ve got itty-bitty 5-inch tripods, and quite tall 72-inch tripods, and some sizes in-between. Keep your camera still, rotate it smoothly, adjust the angle easily—tripods make it possible, and we just added several more. Snap one up!

Flash with mount for different cameras.

She blinded me with science, and LED lights.

Digital Juice Miniburst 128 Light
If you’re trying to film in less than optimum lighting—and it sure is getting dark early nowadays—you can check out one of these LED lights. They will mount onto any of the Panasonic cameras we offer (though you can use them with any camera), and will brighten that scene right up!

The backpack makes it convenient to carry the video camera kits.

It may look plain, but its contents grant untold powers.

Panasonic Video Camera Backpack
If you’re a Serious Videographer with Serious Videographer Needs, we’ve got some goodies for you, too. We just added some unassuming but pretty awesome backpacks that contain not only our Panasonic HC-V700M camcorder (see description above), but also a lavalier mic and a condenser shotgun mic, just to make things extra fancy. If those terms make sense to you and get you going, this is the rig for you. Combine it with the tripods and LED lights, or even a 3D conversion lens (we have those, too!) if you want a really comprehensive setup. Not for the faint of heart, or those with only basic needs.

That’s what we’ve added most recently in terms of video equipment—we also have brand spankin’ new Apple Lightning to USB converters, so that those of you with the newest iPhone can charge ‘em up while you’re visiting us. We have loads and loads of things that we’re just itching to loan out to you—why don’t you glance over our list and see what we can help you with? If you want a more visual interface, you can also browse our Loanable Tech Pinterest board, which is also shiny and new.

You live in the future and have all these gadgets at your disposal to make your life easier (and more fun)—come and get ‘em!

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