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.”
Are you as addicted to your smartphone as we are? Do you have apps you couldn’t live without? Or, if you’re like us, is there some app you really wish existed, but doesn’t? Well, if you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be interested in the UGL’s Library Mobile App Student Competition.
Unlike other app competitions, this one doesn’t require any previous programming or app-building experience. We just want your ideas! Students are welcome to work individually or in teams to investigate library-related needs and/or problems that an app might solve, and then develop a design outline and formal proposal. The first round of deadlines is November 17, so if you’re interested, definitely check out all of the competition details. Did we mention there are cash prizes (up to $750!!) and a chance that your app will get developed by library staff? Pretty sweet.
Areas we’re really interested in include:
- Services (research, circulation/renewal, course reserves, loanable tech, library website, etc.)
- Collections (books, videos, archival materials, e-books, digital media, etc.)
- Facilities (physical library building, group spaces, building navigation, locating specific items, etc.)
The UGL already has a few apps ready for you to use. Check out a list of iPhone apps available (for FREE) in the iTunes store. Our popular Minrva app was originally only available on the Android platform, but it’s now ready to go for iOS, too!
If you’ve got a great idea for a new app to add to the mix, check out the competition guidelines and then submit your application! Not only may you come up with a killer new app that helps yourself and your fellow students, but you could end up with some cash-money and a great entry on your resume, too. That’s a competition we can get behind.
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.
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!
The Undergrad Library is pleased to announce a free workshop for developing iPhone and iPad applications. While these workshops are primarily aimed at undergraduate students, all interested campus affiliates are welcome to participate. Advanced registration is requested due to limited seating. All materials will be provided. We will be using templates from Apple’s Dashcode development environment, which takes a web-based approach for application design.
Where: Room 289, Undergraduate Library
When: Friday, April 27th, 6:30PM – 8:00PM
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!
Are you a University of Illinois undergraduate student with a 2-year IT degree or a minor in Informatics? Are you interested in getting real experience developing software in a collaborative, team-based research environment? Are you awesome? YES?!? Then you might be the perfect candidate for the UGL’s new 8-week summer internship opportunity for students from diverse backgrounds. Read all about it below!