July 13, 2009

UGLi Blog is now... Librations!

Good afternoon, dear readers!

At the conclusion of an eventful blog-in at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania beginning Friday, July 10, 2009, A.D. [Political incorrectness intended; if you could, please read "2009 A.D." as "in the year of our lord 2009." Thanks.], we are proud to announce the birth of a brand new venture, the internet's first library/bar:

Librations - get here fast and then we'll take it slow.

Please update your feed readers and keep those comebacks coming. UGLi Blog will continue as an archival collection of our wacky adventures. Librations is based on an idea at least as old as the Great Depression, a kernel of a thought that only recently became our Plan C. Feel free to let us know what you think of our new gathering place and please stay tuned for many, many good librations in the future!

With our deepest gratitude for your laughs and bon mots,
Katie (and Emily... she is driving back to Michigan now.)

July 6, 2009

UGLi Blog Update: The Book-mo-boat has not set sail

Dearest readers, for those of you waiting with baited breath to hear of Life Plans A, worry no more! I am happy to report that the Book-mo-boat -- i.e. the world's best Plan B -- is still chillin' in port at Muskegon (pronounced MUSK-uh-john) Lake, Michigan.* World Peace will have to wait because we two are too busy, working as newly minted professional librarian ladies!

Plan A-E
Emily has accepted a job as an Undergraduate Learning Librarian at our very own UGLi! Congratulations to Emily and friend of ugliblog Angie, who has also been named a UGLLLibrarian! MLibrary is so lucky to have you both.

Plan A-K
Katie has started her job as a Reference & Web Services Librarian at Gettysburg College Musselman Library and is settling in at her sublet townhouse in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. She is blogging her new life at quintessential chronicles of kdt. Feel free to contact her for her Gettysburg address.

Plan A-U
UGLi Blog is in transition, and soon will be sporting a new domain, a new look, and a new identity. Emily and Katie will be having a Blog-In soon to determine how we can continue to nurture our beloved brainchild to 2010 and beyond. (I don't want to get anyone's hopes up too far, but ugliblog's next iteration may be even more podcastic!)

So those are our planz. Thanks for reading, everybody, and as always, our virtual suggestion box is open to comebacks!

Snappy Comebacks from PetaKids

*Our many thanks to those who applied to work on the Book-mo-boat. Captain Emily will keep your information on file and contact you in the event of crew member openings in the future.

July 5, 2009

July 3, 2009

This is SO Metadater: the Musical!

Web Site Story. See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

Oh, 21st century dating -- "I can't wait to read about me later on your blooooog!"

June 8, 2009

I [heart] the University of Michigan

Guess who just got an email message that her diploma is in the mail? That's right!This girl!

I thought I would share the content of the email with you, since it kind of killed me:
First of all, I'm so impressed that UM sprung for 'First Class US Mail,' especially in these tough times. They couldn't even afford full quotation marks, but that diploma is coming first class, recession be darned! U-M Diploma Status would also like to inform me not to call the University of Michigan to ask when my diploma will arrive. I can just hear the harried bureaucrat on the other end of the line telling me, 'It'll get there when it gets there!' To tide me over (and prevent annoying phone calls), the folks over at U-M Diploma Status were kind enough to provide me with a link to a preview of my diploma -- WOW:

I am now, pretty much officially, a leader and best. Thanks for your message, U-M Diploma Status! I can stop fretting now -- my Master of Science in Information (Information) is in the mail.

Recent SI grads: did you get a diploma preview? If not, you may not have graduated! Just FYI (Information).

June 7, 2009

On the subject of ketchup

I, Katie, have a confession to make. I am a lover of ketchup, that sweet American condiment with little nutritional value. In the past, I have been mistrustful of others who do not like ketchup. HOWEVER, I would like to apologize to the ketchup haters out there, because I have recently learned that one among you is one of my most trusted allies -- Emily, also of ugliblog.

Dearest Emily, please accept my sincerest apology. I will try not to hate on ketchup haters from here on out, and I will also stop wearing my ketchup costume to torture you. I've seen the error of my ways!

Much love!

May 29, 2009

The Library is Where Bert's Cafe Is

Dear friend of ugliblog, Anand, had the following interaction at the Graduate Library reference desk this week. Thanks for sharing with the ugliblog community, Anand!

patron: if my teacher put a book on reserve, where would that be?
me: it'll be at the UGLi circulation desk. do you know where that is?
patron: is that, like, by Bert's?
me: [best professional smile] mmhmm!

See you at Bert's!

May 25, 2009

METADATER: The Startup Plan! OR My Master's degree in silly things

My last paper at SI (for the course 529: Analysis & Design of Online Communities) required me to create a start-up plan for a new online community. I realized my most entertaining idea for a paper topic had already been discussed on ugliblog: the concept of METADATER, the online dating site for information professionals. As I wrote this paper, I was inspired by Emily's coining of emoticon sign-flirting earlier this year, and an abundance of analytics indicating people in need of romantic advice are ending up here on ugliblog. For those of you who are curious about where my serious discussion of the intentionally silly took me, here are some excerpts from my final paper:
The purpose of Metadater is to provide resources and an online community for the type of people who Google phrases like “facts on flirting,” “dating advice for nerds or geeks,” or “he doesn’t even know I exist.” Metadater aggregates information about dating sites and advice on flirting, dating, and relationships, allows members to share stories, advice, and personal profiles, and lets those Google searchers know they’re not alone – it reminds them that there are like-minded people out there who turn to the internet for help in navigating the complex landscape of romantic relationships. Metadater is an online community dedicated to providing people with lighthearted, fun information, conversation, and activities that encourage them to transform their outlook on dating from clueless or confused to confident and amused.
A valiant purpose, indeed.
Using its member databases and algorithmic matching based on personality, interest, friend suggestions, and geographic criteria, Metadater hopes to playfully employ informatics theory to enable good conversation and promote people’s understanding of romantic relationships and each other. Metadater intends to be a stress-free environment, where there is no pressure to meet your soulmate, and the focus is on open discussion, community, and a shared, humorous take on the trials and tribulations of flirting, dating, and romantic relationships.
To be clear, Metadater does not yet exist, but it really should. Any developers out there willing to take on this challenge? As a Metadater community founder, you'll be doing a service to nerds, geeks, and dorks everywhere. Contact me for more information and eCommunities jargon!

May 20, 2009

Congratulations Graduates!

We at ugliblog want to salute all 2009 graduates! Congratulations on becoming Masters (or Mistresses) of Information! We're so proud of you!

And, as a special treat, we bobble our heads to you in this world premiere short short film:

May 10, 2009

A really great afternoon

Now that Emily and I have graduated (stay tuned in the next few days for a special graduation ugliblog post), I have lots of time to create Care Bear data visualizations! This coloring book page describes the "pop" vs. "soda" debate in the United States by Juice Graph, Care Bears, and geographic distribution:
Data gathered from: http://www.popvssoda.com/

April 30, 2009

Life Plan B: World Peace

Bookmobiles bring books to people, meeting the people where they are. But what if the place where the people are doesn't have roads? Bookmobiles can't go there. Imagine yourself camping along the great coast of Northern Lake Michigan. You might be on Beaver Island. Imagine yourself running out of books to read. You are without roads. No bookmobile to save you. You are in danger of getting bored. Life Plan B is your saving grace.

Life Plan B is to commandeer a sail boat and turn it into a Book-mo-Boat. The Book-mo-Boat works like a bookmobile, except it specializes in locations only accessible by water. I'm creating a search committee for a qualified crew (p.s. I'm the Captian and Katie is the First Mate). Here are the main qualifications:

Applicants must:
  • Put water safety first, understanding that if they do not know how to swim, they will be wearing a life preserver at all times.
  • Have a sense of adventure, and dream of a life on the high seas of Lake Michigan.
  • Like to read. There won't be anything else to do on the Book-mo-Boat.
  • Be able to go for long periods of time without internet access.
Preferred qualifications:
  • Not susceptible to sea sickness.
  • Be a master at the art of the reference interview.
  • Have experience in fending off Somali pirates.
The last preferred qualification brings me to my main worry about the Book-mo-Boat, and my suggestion for world peace. After our summer on Lake Michigan, the Book-mo-Boat will sail to the uncharted waters off the coast of Somalia. This is dangerous. About as dangerous as getting involved with un-chartered charter schools. But, we will be a brave crew. If the pirates want our Book-mo-Boat, they can have it. I imagine that the pirates will get so caught up in the wild adventures they find in books that they will abandon their wicked ways and civilize themselves. Andrew Carnegie would love this idea.

There are some Book-mo-Boats already in existence. We'll model our best practices on their experiences:

Norway has a book boat!

The book boat made the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Library and Information Science!

Sweden also has a book boat!

Lao Children's Library Boat (just photos)

Please just write a little sentence or two about why you want to sail on the Book-mo-Boat with me and First Mate Katie and leave it in the comments to this post. The Book-mo-Boat, should Life Plan A (full-time library employment) not come together, will leave port at dawn on July 1, 2009.

April 19, 2009

Plan D: Donkey Ball

I have made an important discovery for anyone out there looking for Life Plan D. If this whole librarian thing doesn't work out, I'm considering putting my marketing and outreach skills to good use by becoming a donkey ball promoter. The sport, also known as donkey basketball, is similar to standard basketball; the key difference is that a player must be on the back of a donkey in order to score points. Donkey ball events are often organized to draw crowds to fundraisers. As far as I can tell, scores are typically much lower than in human-powered basketball. Please see the following:

Thomas, Katie. (2009). Donkey Ball Stubbornly Holds on Despite Criticism. New York Times, April 17, 2009. Available online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/18/sports/othersports/18donkey.html.
  • This article provides an introduction to the history, current practice, and controversy surrounding the sport of donkey ball.
  • Donkey Ball Operator Leticia Kwall describes the whimsicality of the activity: "Normally when you see animals, people are in control. In this forum, the reason it’s so entertaining to children is that the donkeys are totally in control of the situation."
  • As if you needed further impetus to click on the link above, here is a sample of what awaits you:
Thanks, New York Times!

For looking for further information about professional "assletes," I recommend these donkey athletic profiles put together by a donkey ball company in Vermont.

For fellow information professionals in need of direction, might I suggest you carve out a niche in the field of donkey ball informatics? There are myriad design possibilities in this market -- consider donkey ball trading cards (or e-trading cards), donkey ball apps for Facebook and iPhone, or building the first donkey ball online community. I'm issuing a call to action, friends: it's time to bring donkey ball into the Web 2.0 world.

April 3, 2009

Plan C: Librations

I was recently browsing the encyclopedic section of The American Heritage New Illustrated History of the United States Volume 12 (published 1971) and I found this amazing picture of a bar that had been turned into a library during the Prohibition. This both made me infinitely glad that there is no Prohibition on, and got my wheels turning. Life Plan C is now to open a library that sells beer. We're calling it Librations. Emily and Katie: librarians by day, librarian/bartenders by night.

Any Happy Hour ideas?

March 23, 2009

All roads lead to ugliblog

Via the awesome power of Google Analytics, we now know that the demand for facks about flirting spiked on March 10, 2009.

March 18, 2009


Last weekend I went to my first librarian conference, the ACRL 14th National Conference in Seattle, Washington. It was quite the adventure. I had a great time, saw some interesting presentations, hung out with cool librarians, and had the opportunity to facilitate a round table discussion on Millennial Librarianship -- what it means to be a young librarian joining the profession right now.

My favorite experience of the conference had to be the dance floor at the all-conference reception, in a giant room called the "sky church" at the Experience Music Project. I'd never considered the possibility of a librarian-filled dance space before, and it was an amazing sight to behold -- so many different librarians, so many different styles of dance! Good, good times.

I didn't have my camera, but some other librarians did, and shared some photos of the event on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/search/?s=int&q=acrl2009+dancing&m=text. Unfortunately, it is hard to capture the utter joy and wonder of the experience in static images.

February 24, 2009

Copyright violated?

I have a little copyright issue, and need some advice.

I get really fired up about community history, and the role of libraries in preserving our community histories. About two years ago, I worked on a local history project that involved lots of people in my home community, the library, and other community organizations, and came to fruition in an essay and exhibit. The purpose of the project was to gain some publicity for a historic building and community gathering place very near and dear that is in constant financial trouble.

So, I was googling around the Internet yesterday, and I found the following video:

The Parks and Recreation Dept., who I intended the research to ultimately benefit, posted the video on their blog.

That's cool, right? Community history belongs to the community, and people are interacting with it because it means something to them. I shared my research becuase it's not just me and the archive that are wrapped up in the pool. There is a version of the essay on a local wiki, and I would love it if people added to that. Some have. The history of that pool means a lot to me, and to so many others in my home community, so we should all be able to celebrate it and pass it along, right?

Well, maybe not entirely. The images are copyrighted and property of the public library. There is a use fee and use agreement connected with the images. The fees help to keep the archive alive. The agreement helps keep the use of the images legal. Taking screenshots of the images and then citing "courtesy of..." when the library mostly likely did not okay this, isn't really legal. If the library did okay it, please, prove me wrong. If taking screenshots of copyrighted images is legal, please, prove me wrong.

I'm a librarian. I'm uptight about citing sources. I think plagiarism is the 8th deadly sin. The research for this project took a long time and involved a lot of people. I cited my sources like crazy so that other people wouldn't have to spend two years in front of a mircofilm reader reading unindexed newspapers to find information about the building, and to find the photos used in the video.

Am I being too uptight? Too invested? Should I let it go? Should I let the library and historical commission deal with it, since they own the images and I donated my time and research to them? Any free advice?

February 5, 2009

It's going to be okay!!

This whole job searching thing is getting stressful. I tend to break my collarbone every 5-8 years, and would just like a job with a nice health care package, please.

I nervous googled “librarian, interview questions,” and found these resources for you.

Librarian interview questions

Some more interview questions

How to apply for a library job

After reading through some of these, I began to hope that no one asks me in a professional situation, “what is the best reference question you’ve ever been asked?” Friends, I cannot lie, it was the student that asked, “Which Van Halen album is ‘Panama’ on?” Looking over my glasses I exploded, “1984!!!” The student looked at me with eyes that knew I was wearing a hand-me-down cardigan from my grandmother. I didn’t know until then that I was dying for someone to ask me a question that could exercise the part of my brain where useless facts are stored.

Librarians know lots of facts that they don’t get to use often. Trivia is how librarians show off. It's an over-looked professional quality of librarianship.

Friends, to make a long story short, it's going to be okay. We've got skillz. Our treasure troves of trivia are the furthest thing from useless. Hang in there.

January 22, 2009

A Librarian's Essential Accessories

Recent conversations with fellow librarians have driven home the fact that I am woefully unprepared, wardrobe-wise, to begin my career.

1. While I have managed to acquire glasses, what am I to do if my spectacles need a rest? I will need an eyeglasses retainer, just to be on the safe side:
2. With the variable indoor weather of many libraries, cardigans have become a mainstay of the librarian wardrobe. My current cardigan collection is inadequate, and who knows what future heating and cooling systems will throw my way. In a recent web search for proper attire, I came across this gem:
Ladies and gentlemen, the cardigan for dogs has finally arrived, and is available at the low low price of $49. I'll be stocking up on these soon, so that all my future (XX Small to Medium) pets can be appropriately outfitted. Remember, librarianship is not just a career, it's a lifestyle!

January 18, 2009

Facebook, aka Fort Creepy

The term "creepy treehouse" seems to be a popular topic on various blogs focusing on social computing and education. The term is often connected with facebook interactions. According to Jared Stein of flexknowlogy, a creepy treehouse is:

n. Any institutionally-created, operated, or controlled environment in which participants are lured in either by mimicking pre-existing open or naturally formed environments, or by force, through a system of punishments or rewards. Such institutional environments are often seen as more artificial in their construction and usage, and typically compete with pre-existing systems, environments, or applications. creepy treehouses also have an aspect of closed-ness, where activity within is hidden from the outside world, and may not be easily transferred from the environment by the participants.

n. Any system or environment that repulses a target user due to it’s closeness to or representation of an oppressive or overbearing institution.

n. A situation in which an authority figure or an institutional power forces those below him/her into social or quasi-social situations.

Popular examples of this defination of a creepy treehouse are professors that make students follow them on twitter, or forced use of the blackboard facebook app. In our own words: would you take your Collection Development textbook to the bar to read while all your friends are there having a lively time? It would take a special person to say "yes" to that.

We think the concept of a creepy treehouse is best described as a social situation online that makes you uncomfortable. The action is invasive, and perceived as inappropriate by one of the parties involved. One element of this may be a social situation that crosses a contextual boundary (educators friending students and vice versa) or a generational gap. There are some people you'd just rather not hang out with online.

In conclusion, stop creepy treehousing. Use privacy settings, friend lists, and exercise your "ignore friend request" right. It's okay to feel strange about the amount of information people can find about you online. Define your personal limits (cough cough myspacers...). Boundaries are something to be thoughtful about, especially on new frontiers.

More info:
Attend our ML2SIG discussion Monday, January 19, 12-1pm, room 806 Hatcher.
Chris Lott: Social Networks vs. Tools
Classroom 2.0: avoiding the "creepy treehouse"
Get out of the creepy treehouse (check out the discussion thread)
for those still interested:
Wikipedia: Social software in education

January 15, 2009

Cleaning it up

I was cleaning my desktop today, when I came across this screenshot. It happened to me while I was making a sweet Presidential bingo board for the library's election event, bound to be a total hit with the ugli population. I mean, who doesn't like bingo? I'm not sure how pop-ups are generated, but it nearly killed me that this ad popped up when I was image searching Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson would hate this.

December 16, 2008

Librarian Hero

As if we need more reasons to admire Josie Parker of the Ann Arbor District Library!

December 14, 2008

Recession good news

Dear readers, UGLi Blog has been hit hard by the global recession, leading to a dearth of posts in recent times. Thankfully, Reuters has reported some more positive results of the recent economic downturn:
* In another sign of holiday cheer, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reported a 250 percent rise in the number of guns handed over in a no-questions-asked program to exchange weapons for holiday gift cards. The department's station in a high crime suburb received 964 guns, two hand grenades and two briefcases full of dynamite. [Emphasis added.]
If only I had a couple of briefcases full of dynamite, I would be RICH in holiday gift cards right about now. Now I know what I should have been investing in all these years.
* More people are seeking love online to compensate for the pain of losses. Match.com, which has online dating sites in 40 countries, had its largest membership growth in the last seven years in November. "During these trying times, people are looking for hope in their inbox," said CEO Thomas Enraght-Moony.
Could this possibly become a Depression when there are so many opportunities for informating? I think not, my friends. I think not:
http://images.google.com/images?q=internet dating

October 28, 2008

Choose Your Own Adventure: The Case of the Missing Book

Books go missing from libraries. Librarians and library users hate that. Patrons demand explanations, and librarians yearn for the answers. Where do books go when they are missing? They choose their own adventures. Go ahead sleuths, track down that book. Your patrons depend on you. Here are your options:

Get paranoid.

Explain that some books just don't fit in.

Surrender the book. You've had it all along.

(A special thanks to Katie for making this possible.)

October 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, UGLi Blog!!

It's been one heckuva year. Thanks for all the good times, UB!

In honor of this joyous occasion, here's a quick link to some of our favorite posts: OMG, yay! Any other favorite blog moments? Suggestions for the next year? Post them in a comeback!

October 2, 2008


Funny thing happened this afternoon while I was working Ask a Librarian, our instant message chat reference service. To give you some context, the most common questions we get on this service are about access problems for our online databases, often a frustrating (and generally boring) topic for both the patron and the librarian. Chat reference is usually a rather proper exchange, as far as text chats go, and often concerns bibliographic information. But not today...

[15:58] meeboguest940311: Hi dude whats up

(I'm used to people being occasionally informal on chat, especially the millennials, but this gave me pause. I considered several lines of attack, including some uptight, librarian-y responses, before settling on a laid-back approach.)

[15:59] UMLibraryAskUs: hi
[15:59] UMLibraryAskUs: not much
[15:59] UMLibraryAskUs: what's up with you?

[15:59] meeboguest940311: can you tell me who the cool bald guy who does film is?

[15:59] UMLibraryAskUs: hmm
[15:59] UMLibraryAskUs: at Askwith?

(I was thinking "film" as in videos and DVDs, not film studies.)

[15:59] meeboguest940311: No at the grad
[16:00] UMLibraryAskUs: oh, yes. That's Scott Dennis.

(Scott Dennis is my librarian crush. He knows pretty much everything about electronic resource collection development. He is, in fact, a cool bald guy.)

[16:00] meeboguest940311: Oh yeah, that is his name. Thanks!
[16:00] UMLibraryAskUs: no problem!

[16:00] meeboguest940311: later dude
[16:00] UMLibraryAskUs: l8r

(I was particularly proud of my signoff. All in all, a quick, entertaining exchange.)

I emailed Scott to tell him he's famous -- that pretty much everyone on the library website today is looking for him -- and it turns out he was the patron at the other end of my fun chat:

Katie, I cannot tell a lie… That was me, doing a live demo for a Screen Arts class I was teaching. I wasn’t planning on it, but when I showed the Library Help feature in CTools, a student in the class said, someone is there right now waiting to chat? In a tone of disbelief. So I decided to prove it on the spot. I didn’t want to make whoever was on chat duty actually have to do any research work, and I wanted to be funny, so… It worked like a charm. The class roared with laughter (about 50 of them in Angell Hall Auditorium D), and they were very impressed with your hip current texting style! That’s really a librarian? One asked. I’m very lucky you were the one on duty! Thanks. --Scott

It's been a long week, but now I feel great. I'm so hip, a studio audience of 50 millennials can't even tell I'm a librarian.

[Uptight Librarian Note: I received permission from Scott to post this on the blog; I don't go around randomly publishing patrons' private messages to the internet.]