Chris Dzombak

The UGLi

Students, faculty, staff, and community members have long known the University of Michigan’s Shapiro Undergraduate Library as the “UGLi”. It’s clear enough where the name comes from (Undergraduate Library), but how far back does it date?

I discovered the phrase “the UGLI” in the October 14, 1969 edition of the Michigan Daily and began wondering just how long it’s had that name - did it go further back than 1969?

Several friends (Trey, whose parents were ’81 grads; Abby, whose parents attended in the early ’70s; and Kyle, who did a little research) noted that the community considered the building ugly before its remodeling in 1995. (Prof. Honeyman noted that it was known as the Ugli in fall 1970, but didn’t comment on the building’s beauty.)

This page has several undated but older photos of the Ugli inside and out, including one of a “typing room with coin operated typewriters and ashtrays”); The Bentley Historical Library dates “Shapiro Library Major Remodeling and Addition” to 1995. (This brief history of the library system didn’t mention the remodeling at all.)

Ed Vielmetti found a use of the “UGLI” name in the August 27, 1963 edition of the Michigan Daily.

Whoever runs the Ugli’s Twitter account (@UGLTweets) says that the nickname must be older than 1969, noting that “Some books surviving from the late 50s and early 60s have UGLi written on the spine.” It seems likely, then, that the Ugli’s nickname has been with it since the building was built in 1959.

Still reading? These days, the Ugli has a webcam which streams live video of the Diag. Check it out here.

Updated: @juliewbee found some cool 1970s-era Ugli photosets on Flickr: 1972 Library Orientation and Reserves in 1972. Both are part of the UGL History collection.