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Georgia was one of the first states in the United States to start building a big online library that everybody in the state with a computer --- from professors to schoolchildren --- could use for free. Gov. Zell Miller liked the idea of making the new world of Internet services available to every student --- as in public education --- and Gov. Roy Barnes also has supported the project, which has cost $30 million so far.
But the project --- called Galileo; now most states have a version --- keeps facing the obstacles of too little money and attention.
UGA has microfilmed 90 percent of the state\'s newspapers dating back many years (17 million pages so far) but this historical gold mine still needs to be digitized and indexed so that everybody, everywhere, can have quick access to it.
The total cost would be $25 million spread over 30 years. But the relatively small amount of money requested during the last legislative session got shunted aside. No doubt other wheels were squeaking louder.
Such concerns shouldn\'t keep slowing down a bold project that could make the whole state smarter and more computer-savvy. Galileo needs support, publicity, even an occasional critic. And some of the most basic information it needs to put online is Georgia\'s history. Fast-growing public online libraries in North Carolina and many other states aren\'t going to do it for us. (More on Galileo soon.)