Sheila McAlister

Sheila McAlister is the director of the Digital Library of Georgia.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Digital Public Library of America is giving $100,000 to the Digital Library of Georgia, based at the University of Georgia Libraries.

The foundation donates money annually to educational, technological and humanitarian causes.

Sheila McAlister, the director of the Digital Library of Georgia, said UGA applied for the grant through the Digital Public Library of America so that it could provide training sessions to get more public librarians to take their global and special collections material and put them online.

“Georgia was actually one of the original six hubs for the Digital Public Library of America when the site first launched,” McAlister said. “So our digital library works with public libraries throughout the state to help them digitize their collection and organize them in a way that makes it easy for people to find. Then we pull all that data together and send it to the DPLA.”

The grant will allow the state’s public libraries content to be made available at the local, regional and national level.

McAlister also said UGA plans to hold three different training sessions beginning in May with the money the received.

“Each training sessions will hold about 10 to 15 public librarians, and our staff as well as the DPLA staff will introduce them to the basics of creating online digital collections,” she said.

Malika Redzhepova, who works at the Main Library, said the expansion of the digital library is a necessity.

“Everything is so technology wise and I feel like the students do more online reading than anything else,” said the senior finance and MIS major from Alpharetta.

She also said a reading room was built on the third floor of the library and holds some of the original furniture from the library. The fourth floor now has a study space with whiteboard and chalkboard paint on the walls in which students can write on.

“The library is definitely improving. It is starting to feel more homey,” Redzhepova said. “They are also thinking of renovating the top floor of the library as well so it can be more modernized.”

McAlister said the UGA Main Library does an annual survey to see how the UGA community uses the services that the library provides.

“For a while people were not happy with the way that the space was in the library,” McAlister said. “There has been a lot of work and expanding to improve the library including creating a separate Special Collections Library which freed up some space in the main library.”

Though its digital library is located at UGA, the Special Collections Library serves beyond the campus community.

“There is amazing stuff all over the state and we just want people to be able to understand the rich history of the state,” McAlister said.