After nearly three decades of service, University Librarian and Associate Provost William Potter will leave behind a legacy of digitization and technology at the University of Georgia Libraries.
“There are so many memories,” Potter said. “It’s hard to say, which is my favorite. I just think all of the people that I’ve met have been a great group to work with.”
Potter will retire in August 2014. He began working at UGA libraries in 1989. Since then, Potter has strived to advance and improve library technologies. The librarian has been involved in several technological projects at UGA libraries including GALILEO, the Zell B. Miller Learning Center and the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collection Libraries.
“What I’m proudest of is that I one of the chief people behind GALILEO,” Potter said. “In the early '90s we worked on that. I was one of the people who lead that effort.”
GALILEO, also known as Georgia Library Learning Online, is a project created by the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents in the early 1990s. The project provides online access to more than 100 databases to UGA students and 2,000 other institutions. Through GALILEO, students can research more than 23,000,000 academic journals, encyclopedias and government publications. The online database accounts for one-fourth of database use at UGA.
Potter said in 2013, students and faculty retrieved more than 1,300,000 citations and 850,000 full text articles from GALILEO. It was one of Potter’s first achievements at UGA.
“I was also involved in the Miller Learning Center and the Special Collections Library. [The Special Collections Library] took 16 years from the time we proposed it to when it opened in, so I’m very proud of that,” he said.
In his 25 years, Potter has seen several changes on the UGA campus including administration, building architecture and students.
“I’ve worked for three presidents and five provosts,” Potter said. “I’ve seen a lot of change here and it’s been for the good. I’m glad I came here. I enjoyed working here.”
Renee Micheli said she appreciates the changes the library system has seen under Potter’s administration.
“I think it’s very important to have faculty that understand our technological habits and continue to build on it,” said the senior public relations major from Harrison, N.Y. “It’s not realistic for us as millennials to go to the library pick up a book as a source for a paper. We like to type in key word fast and if within six seconds we don’t find what we’re looking for we will go onto the next source.”
Potter said he hopes his retirement will give him the opportunity to pursue different interests.
“I’m retiring because I want to,” Potter said. “I’ve been doing the same thing for 25 years. I’d like to think about doing something different.”
Under Potter, the library system has seen major digital changes. Print materials, including magazines and academic journals, have become available via electronic form, Potter said.
“Everything has become electronic,” he said. “That has really revolutionized the way research is done. Faculty can have access to journals in their labs or at home. I think that has been the most significant challenge we faced.”
Potter believes the digital revolution will continue to develop as the UGA community, including students and professors, become more comfortable with digital media.
“The other thing that has changed is when I remember course reserves were so important; faculty would put books on reserve behind the circulation desk. Now, it’s almost entirely electronic,” Potter said. “The fact that research is so much easier in terms of the mechanics of doing it — you don’t have to go through paper indexes or the card catalog. You can search on the computer. That really has changed the way libraries work.”
UGA student Allison Morrow said his replacement should be as innovative as Potter was.
“We really need people who can push technology forward on campus,” said the junior digital broadcasting major from Kennesaw. "I can’t imagine what live was like without having things available online. Students today are a technologically savvy group and we need faculty who think like we do.”