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.”

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.
Jake has a fancy-ass computer.

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 Mobile App Student Competition

Student Mobile App Competition
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.

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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!



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Learn to create iPhone / iPad apps!

Ever had a great idea for an iPhone app and the only thing keeping you from making it was your lack of app-making knowledge?  Well, now you can turn your app dreams into “re-app-lities” (OK, that doesn’t really make sense… but you get what we’re saying, right? You can learn to make iPhone apps!). Come to the UGL (Room 289) next Friday, April 27th from 6:30-8:00PM for an app-making workshop specifically designed for beginners.  No programming experience required! In fact, we encourage those with little or no experience to attend!

This is the second session we’re offering this month.  The first session filled up quickly, so we expect this one will, too! Register now to secure your spot.  More details below:

Learn to make iPhone apps!

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

Register: https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/7656395


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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!

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Summer Diversity Internship at the UGL!

Image of development team

Get real software developing experience with this cool team!

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!


Non-traditional information technology career exploration for undergraduate students with two year IT degrees from diverse backgrounds; the University Library is recruiting diverse candidates for a summer paid internship in software development. Students will co-design library software services in a collaborative team-based research and development group based in the Undergraduate Library.


Participate in a collaborative software development team for library services that aid information discovery.


Must be a University of Illinois undergraduate student from a diverse background with two-year IT degree; or, enrolled in the Informatics Minor.

Programming experience with object oriented languages (preferably Java), familiarity with RESTful web services for API development.


40 hours a week for 8 weeks @ $12.25

To apply: Send cover letter and resume to Jim Hahn, jimhahn@illinois.edu , Orientation Services and Environments Librarian.
Image of development team with large and fancy computers

Check out those sweet iMacs!

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