GALILEO virtual library

Interview with Russell Palmer, assistant director at GALILEO virtual library

05 March 2020 • Michelle Silvestre, head of marketing

Star speakers from across the information industry will share their thoughts and expertise at the annual OpenAthens one-day conference taking place on 19 March at the America Square Conference Centre, London. Hot topics will include user-centered design and experience, user consent and privacy, piracy and practical use of identity and access management.

We had a chat with plenary speaker Russell Palmer, assistant director at GALILEO, ahead of this year’s conference to find out what we can expect from his presentation.

GALILEO is one of the largest library consortia in the US, serving around 2,000 educational organizations within the state of Georgia. Here, Russell discusses the team’s determination to fulfill its strategic vision and goals of facilitating knowledge and providing tools and resources for all its users to meet their lifelong learning needs.

Please can you give us an introduction to GALILEO virtual library?

GALILEO was established in 1995 and is Georgia’s virtual library. We provide access to electronic resources across a range of institutions which include the state university, private colleges and universities, public schools, private K-12 schools, technical colleges and public libraries.

We’re quite unique in the US in that we serve such a large proportion of the state’s population. We provide access to a range of content that isn’t available elsewhere on the internet through the New Georgia Encyclopaedia, the Digital Library of Georgia and the Georgia Government Publications, for example.

Our offering also sets us apart. We provide a number of additional services beyond the portal access to databases. Including providing comprehensive professional development services, resources and training.

What is GALILEO’s vision and mission?

From the beginning, an important focus of GALILEO virtual library has been lifelong learning. In 2016, we launched our new strategic plan and we’re very much at a time of expansion and growth. GALILEO aims to be central to the learning experiences of the Georgian population throughout their lifetimes.

That’s why the GALILEO virtual library is so much more than just a database provider. The Affordable Learning Georgia initiative – the free textbook program – is very important to us for fostering connections to learning. It saves students millions of dollars. We’re involved in several initiatives like this which are helping us to stay in the consciousness of the state of Georgia.

A part of my role as assistant director is working with public and school libraries to provide training and this is very important to me. I help library and other staff at our institutions to use GALILEO and make sure they are getting the most out of it by giving them strategies to integrate the resources into the curriculum. On a personal level, it’s great to work with GALILEO and contribute to lifelong learning.

A huge part of our mission is providing accessibility and facilitating learning. That’s how we came across OpenAthens – a SAML-based authenticated system which would give us the opportunity to customize our research portals in a way we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.

So, GALILEO virtual library now works with OpenAthens?

It does! We started speaking with OpenAthens in 2017 after experiencing technical problems following GALILEO’s servers transferring to HTTPS protocol. Our software was outdated and it was no longer keeping up with our needs.

We contacted EBSCO who put us in touch with Rob Scaysbrook at OpenAthens. We had a number of online meetings to discuss how the single sign-on solution would work for us at scale. Throughout the whole process, the OpenAthens team was very reassuring and incredibly competent.

In January 2018 we finalized the decision to use OpenAthens and at the beginning of this year we completed the sixth pilot implementation. The system is going to enable us to provide GALILEO customers with the greatest value and to tailor our users’ experiences.

In April of 2018, Vee Rogacheva, Kristina Symes, and Rob Scaysbrook visited us in Athens to complete our pre-implementation planning. During this time, Vee led UX Research, speaking with library staff and users in our academic, technical education, and university library spaces. The face-to-face planning time and UX experience has proven crucial to the success of our implementation.

The data we can gather using OpenAthens’ reporting tools will also empower us to improve our customers’ ROI by monitoring usage and being able to understand what users value (and provide more of it!).

What insight can you give us ahead of your talk at our conference?

I’m looking forward to exploring GALILEO’s strategic plan in greater depth at the conference in March and discussing how OpenAthens has become a significant part of this by enabling us to tailor our users’ experiences to provide them with the best possible journey.

The 2019 OpenAthens Conference ‘User-centered by design’ is going to be an inspiring event and I’m thrilled to be involved.

Don’t miss out on what promises to be an engaging conference program and reserve your place now!

GALILEO virtual library presentation

GALILEO for Life: Georgia’s Portal to Lifelong Learning

GALILEO, the virtual library for the state of Georgia in the USA, entered 2017 with a vibrant and successful past, new leadership, and a strategic plan…that was last updated in 1995. The GALILEO team, assisted by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, engaged its stakeholders in a strategic planning process. Through this initiative, our vision became clear: GALILEO facilitates the creation of knowledge and provides tools and resources for all Georgians to meet their lifelong learning needs.

In order to support this strategic vision, GALILEO set strategic goals with authentication as a cornerstone for future service development and customization. Russell Palmer, GALILEO Assistant Director, explores the team’s determination to actualize this vision, and the role OpenAthens will play in GALILEO’s future.

Librarian helping a student

2019 conference presentations

Catch up on all the presentations from our 2019 conference! These include a range of library case studies and our popular panel debate ‘Piracy as a disruptor for change’.

Conference resource hub