By Barry D. Friedman, Ph.D.
Professor of Political Science
UNG – Dahlonega

It is possible, I suppose, that modern university students do not want to be seen in possession of humble, printed library books lest the students’ use of centuries-old technology damage their reputations. I propose to reposition library books as the fruit of exciting modern technology.
Card catalogs were drawers of index cards with each card representing a book in a library. They are thought to have been in use since the 1700s, but were replaced by computers in the 2000s.

When I was a student, every university library had a cabinet containing drawer after drawer in which index cards were stored alphabetically. Each index card identified one book in the library. Library patrons would struggle to find useful books by finding index cards based on the book’s title or its author’s name or a subject entry (e.g., “elections”). The patron would copy call numbers off the index cards, and then hunt down the books on the shelves. Little about the process was glamorous.

Although in 2015 the library book is still humble‑‑no lights, possibly no colors, no moving parts‑‑the process of finding library books involves modern, technology. The State of Georgia has invested a king’s ransom in a powerful online database system known as GALILEO Interconnected Libraries, or GIL. A library patron, like you, can open the GIL Web site and find the electronic equivalent of all the index cards in the library cabinets of all of the libraries of the public colleges and universities in Georgia. As one enters a title or an author’s name or a subject keyword, GIL searches the catalogues of the library of UNG, the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, and so on‑‑all of them. If the user logs in with her ID and password, she may order one book after another. The books will arrive on the UNG campus of her choice in about three business days.

Because you paid your tuition, the use of this incredible resource comes at no marginal cost to you.

Most of the political-science books in the state’s university libraries are peer-reviewed, so that you may use them just as you use journal articles (unless your instructor gives you a directive to the contrary). Most students find library books easier to understand than journal articles.

As the quality and coherence of my students’ research papers were declining a few years ago, I was perplexed and struggled to figure out what the problem was. I discovered about four years ago that our political-science students did not know how to use GIL and find library books. I was quite astounded at the concept of college students not knowing how to get library books. Since then, I have helped my students, one at a time, to use GIL. My students’ grades are back to where they used to be.

You may use GIL, too. Whether you are enrolled in one of my courses or not, you are welcome to visit me and I’ll show you how to use it. My office is in Room 317 of Hansford Hall on the Dahlonega campus. You are paying for GIL through your tuition and taxes. Why not use it? No university student should be incapable of accessing library books that are potentially useful for his successful completion of a research project.

Note: More advice about gathering research sources and writing research reports appears on the webpage at