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GALILEO - Georgia’s Virtual Library - Marks A Decade of Service

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Atlanta — September 21, 2005

When University System of Georgia librarians and information technology staff used the still-new Internet to electronically link campus libraries in 1995, few could have predicted the project’s exponential growth. Known as GALILEO - (GeorgiA Library Learning Online) - this innovative digital resource now provides universal electronic library access for every Georgian.

Today Gov. Sonny Perdue and many individuals involved in GALILEO’s creation and expansion noted its 10th anniversary with a celebration in Atlanta.

“GALILEO has grown quickly to serve Georgians from Tybee Island to Dalton, from the big city to the farm,” said Perdue. “No other state has the participation of all communities in the way that GALILEO does.”

The University System of Georgia launched GALILEO in Sept. 1995, only 150 days after funding was approved by then Gov. Zell Miller and the Georgia General Assembly. Initially available only through USG campus libraries, those involved in creating the online library quickly broadened its scope to include private academic libraries, the state’s technical colleges, public libraries and public schools. Today GALILEO is available through 2,500 institutions and is a partnership among many state agencies, school districts, public libraries and private educational institutions.

Use of GALILEO has climbed nearly tenfold in 10 years, from approximately 5 million transactions (searches, full text articles displayed, etc.) in 1996 to almost 50 million transactions in 2005, said Merryll Penson, executive director of library services with the University System’s Office of Information and Instructional Technology. “Thanks to GALILEO, Georgians now have free, on-line access to more than 100 databases,” said Penson. “That’s a huge increase from when we began with just a few, tape-loaded databases.”

One of GALILEO’s most important offerings, established in collaboration with the University of Georgia Libraries, is the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG), a gateway to far-reaching resources regarding the state’s history and culture.

The Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) debuted in June 2000. With a single search, digital library users can locate items from across 60 different digitized collections from more than 40 libraries, archives and museums and from 80 agencies of state government. An integral part of the DLG is the New Georgia Encyclopedia, named by Library Journal as one of the “best web reference sources for 2004.”

Through GALILEO, users also can access the Georgia Government Publications database, which contains more than 23,000 publications and is the winner of the American Association of Law Libraries 2003 Public Access to Government Information Award.

A Kids’ Page was added in 2002 to make GALILEO even more useful to Georgia’s citizens, said Penson. One of the key benefits of using the Internet to create GALILEO is the financial savings individual libraries have made through this partnership. “Through this collaborative approach, GALILEO provides greater access to more materials at less cost than if each library had to purchase these resources individually,” said Gov. Perdue.

Any Georgia resident can gain access to GALILEO, either by visiting a public or school library with an Internet connection or by requesting a free password from such libraries and accessing GALILEO databases from a home or workplace computer.

Looking ahead to the next decade, Penson said future improvements to GALILEO would mirror the increased expectations of savvy Internet users. “The Google experience has shaped user’s expectations for accessibility and convenience,” said Penson. Consequently, a three-year upgrade of GALILEO will improve the initiative’s search function, improve and broaden existing electronic links between databases, and provide greater access to content and features from various GALILEO library websites.

Penson also noted that future plans call for the acquisition of new databases, including more databases with content such as audio and video files. In addition, the Digital Library of Georgia will continue to expand. For example, DLG officials have received a $760,000 matching grant to create a civil rights digital library. The project will use historical news footage as part of a digital video archive to promote greater understanding of the civil rights movement.

For more information on GALILEO, contact your local school or public library on visit online at: http://www.galileo.usg.edu

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