GALILEO INCREASES INFORMATION ACCESS
Georgia Library Learning On-Line (GALILEO) was a vision for one
statewide library that originated from the Regents Academic Committee
on Libraries (RACL) and the Office of Information and Instructional
Technology (OIIT). Funded by Gov. Zell Miller and the General Assembly
of Georgia, GALILEO is designed to link all of Georgia's libraries.
"As with many significant developments, a convergence of ideas,
need, and opportunity created GALILEO," GALILEO Project Director
Jayne Williams stated.
This very convenient computer system, located in the Bainbridge
College library, has been available since the fall quarter of 1995.
GALILEO ensures universal access to a core level of material and
information services for every student and faculty member in the
University System of Georgia. According to BC library director Tom
Frieling, this computer system allows a person to accomplish numerous
tasks from one central location.
GALILEO's databases are available to students, faculty, staff,
and the general public. At the moment, GALILEO consists of one hundred
fourteen databases and four major components: GALILEO Databases,
Georgia Library Catalogs, Internet Resources, and University System
of Georgia all make up areas that can be found under this system.
Under GALILEO Databases, there is a database for every subject taught
in the University System. It also serves as home to about 400 full
text periodicals available for printing. Various journals and databases
are available on-line. "These specialized databases make it
a lot easier for students to acquire the information they need in
preparing papers, or for general information," remarked Frieling.
Georgia Library Catalogs is an option that links students directly
to all academic library catalogs in the University System of Georgia.
This option provides faster, faxed interlibrary loan of material
borrowed within the state of Georgia. It also creates a Universal
Borrowers Card good at any academic library in the state for all
faculty and staff.
Internet Resources help locate electronic information on subjects
from government to literature to education to business. These internet
sites contain valuable information not available elsewhere.
Under the University System of Georgia Option, researchers can
find a host of information about both Georgia colleges and Georgia
state government including State government publications and Georgia
Although other states look to Georgia's GALILEO as a trendsetting
venture, the technological advances won't stop there. "G2,"
as it is known, is considered to be the next logical step in the
University System's effort to integrate all library resources. "Essentially,
G2 will replace all existing library automation systems currently
in place with a single system that will handle functions like circulation
and Serials control and will allow a student anywhere in Georgia
to access each and every library's collection as if it were one
single library," Frieling commented.
"An interesting feature will be patron-initiated interlibrary
loan (ILL) requests. For example, a Bainbridge College student can
sit down at a computer workstation here and see that UGA owns a
copy of a particular book and can request it be sent to him or her
here by filling out an electronic ILL form. The system will automatically
forward the request to UGA's ILL Department who will ship the book
The Long, but Short History of GALILEO
GALILEO was born out of a history of necessity melding with ideas,
ideas melding with opportunities, and opportunities melding with
resources. Of course, the bulwark of functioning in a bureaucracy
is the much maligned committee, which is where, long before anyone
knew it, GALILEO got its start.
The Regents Academic Committee on Libraries (RACL) of the University
System of Georgia (USG) was organized in 1968. RACL gave University
System librarians an opportunity to meet regularly to discuss their
concerns, possible common problems, and library management. Over
time, computer technology became a part of library management, and
with growth and new, expensive technology, costs escalated.
In an effort to manage costs and the burgeoning application of
technology in libraries, the state EDP (electronic data processing)
committee recognized that a coordinated effort would be necessary
in the selection of efficient and cost effective library automation
systems. As a result, an advisory committee on information technology
(IT) was formed in 1989 through the incentive of Dr. J.B. Mathews,
then Vice Chancellor of Information Technology (VCIT).
The purpose of the advisory committee was to provide coordination,
information, and support to USG libraries in information management
and in automation. A core group of System librarians, along with
a liaison from what is now the Office of Information and Instructional
Technology (OIIT), began meeting on a regular basis in an effort
to provide leadership for USG libraries. In keeping with the mandate
of the EDP committee, the IT advisory committee made recommendations
on the desired functions of an automation system and then selected
a limited number of systems that could be adopted. The oversight
of the IT advisory committee eventually expanded to address other
library needs, such as lack of bibliographic records in computer
format; resource sharing--especially electronic databases; and cost
efficient automation of smaller libraries.
In August, 1994, the new Chancellor of the University System of
Georgia, Dr. Stephen R. Portch, asked his advisory staff, including
the liaison from the VCIT, to brainstorm in response to the question,
"If you had $20 million, how would you spend it?" When
the suggestion that $6 million be allocated to develop systemwide
library services in the state of Georgia--shared databases, universal
borrowing, unlimited access--realization of the expensive, logistically
complicated idea seemed beyond expectation, much less reality. Everyone
involved with developing the innovative project was excited, but
cautious: library needs often go unmet because of scarce public
By the time the opportunity came to write a proposal for one statewide
library in 1994, however, the committee had been compiling and incubating
ideas that were able to be funneled into the focused effort that
became GALILEO. The groundwork to write the proposal and the electronic
infrastructure to allow ready implementation of the proposal of
resource sharing already existed: PeachNet, Georgia's telecommunications
network for education. These developments converged with Governor
Zell Miller's dedicating state lottery money to education. GALILEO
certainly was an educational advantage and became the beneficiary
of lottery funds. Best of all, GALILEO would serve the entire population
of Georgia, not only those formally enrolled in educational institutions.
The title, A Vision for One Statewide Library, crystallized through
conference calls and e-mail among various staff. After a flurry
of activity, the Chancellor, who was excited by the prospect of
providing vastly improved and superior library access and services
to USG students, faculty, and staff, received the completed proposal
requesting $6 million dollars in his office as stipulated. Because
access to PeachNet was integral to the success of this project,
the Chancellor saw the need to include a PeachNet upgrade in the
statewide library proposal; the funding request climbed to $10 million.
The Chancellor and his staff presented A Vision for One Statewide
Library to the Georgia legislative committees prior to the Georgia
General Assembly session which convened in January, 1995. Governor
Zell Miller and the General Assembly supported and approved the
proposal in late February, 1995. GALILEO was officially launched
at University System of Georgia institutions on September 21, 1995.
System institution librarians of Georgia eagerly set up workstations
and printers purchased expressly for GALILEO, and paper records
were converted to electronic format.
Information for this article was also obtained from the Trailblazer
newsletter of Valdosta State University.