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.

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

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!

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

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!

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

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.

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

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!

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

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!

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

Read like an Olympian

The London 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies officially kick off tomorrow (though soccer is already underway), and we hope you’ll cheer on as some of your fave athletes from your fave countries participate in your fave events (this blogger likes to watch track and field and diving!).

London Olympics flyer with Greek discus throwing statue in front of Big Ben

Photo from The National Archives UK via Flickr Commons

If you want to dive even deeper into the spirit of this spectacular once-every-four-years event that is the Summer Olympics, here’s some books, movies and video games from the UGL’s collection for you to sprint, jump, row, kick, swim, paddle, run, flip, volley, putt, or cycle through!*

book cover: Greek Black figure pottery with athletes wearing running shoes

The Naked Olympics: The True Story  of the Ancient Games

Dig deep into the pagan ritual that was the ancient Olympics. Yes, the modern Olympics have been around for what seems like forever (116 years), but the ancient ones were held for over a millenium: 1200 years in all! There’s lots of history, culture, athleticism, and apparently nudity, to be learned about from this great read.

This Great Symbol: Pierre de Coubertin and the Origins of the Modern Olympic Games (also available online)

Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics, was a French baron with a passion for sport. If you’re a history, anthropology, sports, and/or biography buff, pick this up at your earliest convenience. Part biography of Coubertin, part history of the founding of the games, all thrilling look into the theories and dreams behind the modern games.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games

Not much needs to be said about this Nintendo DS game; it’s all in the title. Race, swim, jump, and play for the bronze, silver or gold as your fave Nintendo hero. Play it during the commercial breaks while watching the coverage of the real Olympics! (p.s. you can check out a DS from the UGL, too!)

Beijing 2008

Another awesome Olympics video game guaranteed to make you feel like you’ve trained as hard as the real-life Olympic athletes (okay, maybe not quite). Instead of doing the long jump as Yoshi, in this Playstation 3 game you play as an athlete participating as part of a national team in one of over 30 events. Sweet.

DVD cover: British athlete being carried on shoulders of fans in front of Union JackChariots of Fire

A classic in the Olympics genre! Chariots of Fire follows two men participating in track and field on the Great Britain team during the 1924 Paris Olympics. Each has his own deep-rooted, complicated reasons for giving it his all. It won four Academy Awards in its day, so besides being a tale of Olympic glory, it’s also great cinema.

* Library books don’t like to get wet, though, so be sure not to take them swimming, diving or water polo-ing with you if you get inspired. They also appreciate not being kicked, volleyed, putted, or jumped on.

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

How app-licable!

Here at the UGL we’re always busy creating new and better ways for you to use the library’s resources and services. In fact, we’re pretty much devoted to it. So we’re super excited to announce a shiny new app that helps you find what you’re looking for more quickly and more easily than ever before.

Well-lit and lookin' knowledgeable.

Bronze bust of the goddess Minerva in Bath, UK. (CC license from Flickr user john.purvis)

The app, called Minrva, is the result of several months of research and development undertaken by UGL librarian Jim “Laser” Hahn and superstar student programmer Nate Ryckman. Minrva – named for Minerva, the Greek goddess of wisdom – features several interactive modules that let you look for UGL resources quickly and easily using your Android mobile phone (iPhone/Pad app forthcoming!).

With Minrva you can…

1. Check for available loanable tech items: If you wake up in the middle of the night dreaming of completing a project for class using a Flip camera, check in with Minrva to see if one’s available. The idea for this feature of the app came directly out of a focus group with students just like you that expressed their desire to look at the loanable tech availability while on the go. Don’t you just love when your dreams get turned into app-reality?

2. Locate stuff in the UGL: Minrva’s locate module lets you look up books in the catalog, and then guides you to their locations on the lower level. Before you know it, you’ll be an expert navigator of the stacks (that’s library lingo for bookshelves…).

3. Scan books using your phone: Find yourself browsing in the UGL stacks and want to know more about a great book you stumble upon? Simply use Minrva on your mobile device to scan the book’s barcode and read a summary to see if it’s worth your time before you take it home.

Minrva is now up and running with more modules planned to roll out before Fall semester begins. Check it out!

 

 

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

Super in the Summer

UGL basking in the summer sun

UGL basking in the summer sun

In case you’re currently cursing your summer-class-taking fate, let us reassure you that the UGL (and maybe even the whole campus) stays pretty awesome during the summer. We found at least five reasons the UGL rocks in the off-season. Can you think of more? Let us know!

1) You can always sit in your favorite spot: Okay, we can’t guarantee this because there is a small chance that someone else who is here for a summer class also likes your UGL study spot. But in general, it’s pretty quiet around the UGL and you can snag an entire table all for yourself. A little different than finals week, huh?

2) The line at Espresso is short: So short, they’ve taken down their line-forming barriers. It’s so easy to get a latte these days, maybe too easy. And you’re guaranteed a fresh sandwich.

3) The bathrooms are…well…cleaner: We realize this is an ongoing issue for you guys. We’re working on it as hard as we can! But it’s a fact that since it’s quieter in here during the summer, the bathrooms aren’t used as much and thus stay cleaner.

4) No wait time for group collaboration rooms: So, like No. 1, this isn’t a complete guarantee. There might be some massive run on group projects all of a sudden when pretty much every instructor assigns a group project the same week. But, let’s be real–that’s not too likely. So you should be able to waltz into the UGL and pick up a key for a collaboration room anytime we’re open–no lines, no waiting.

5) Finally check out a Flip camera and an iPad (and a Nook, and a Macbook Pro, and an external hard drive…): The UGL’s unique collection of rockin’ technology is here for you to use all year long, but it’s insanely popular and we can’t even keep some items in stock! This summer, get your hands on one of our new iPads, Nook Colors, and more. Plus when you’re in the UGL doing work (or just soaking up the A/C while catching up on Netflix), we can pretty much guarantee you’ll get your pick of laptops.

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

Nooks and iPads…here at last!

iPads come with chargers and other accessories.

Yes! We have iPads!

The UGL would like to introduce you to the newest members of our loanable technology family: iPads and Nook Colors!

Nooks also come with charger and guide.

Yes, we’re serious. You can now check out an iPad or Nook Color to take home and play with (ahem, we mean use for very serious homework and research…) for one week. Just like our other loanable tech, you can book these in advance of when you need them, use them for whatever you need them for, and return them a week later (just call us @ 333-3477 or visit the Circulation Desk to make your reservation). You can load them with e-books, apps, and other tablet-y things. All of which we promptly wipe away after you return the tablet, so that the next person can put their own touch (ha!) on it.

You might be wondering a couple of things about these new little bundles of flat-screen joy. Like, why did the UGL decide to start loaning out tablets? And, why didn’t we start sooner?!?!

We were wondering about that, too, so we asked our very own librarian, Jim Hahn, who spearheaded the UGL’s adoption of tablet tech. Given that tablets are designed to be personalized, the UGL – and libraries everywhere! – have been studying them to be sure they are a good investment and can actually stand up to being used by multiple patrons. Hahn conducted a research study to examine the uses of iPads in a university learning environment, wrapping up with focus groups this past winter, in which he found that iPads in particular have numerous applications for internet-based class work. So… these findings encouraged the UGL to start circulating a few tablets.  We’re still in something of a trial period, so we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

What do you think about these new tablets at the UGL? How do you use them? Reserve one today and let us know!

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit