Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Georgia’s public libraries celebrate 10 years of PINES

Georgia’s Public Information Network for Electronic Services (PINES) celebrates the start of its second decade this month, having saved the state’s public libraries more than $70 million in its first 10 years.

“PINES has evolved from a fledgling loan program at fewer than 100 facilities to a thriving network of nearly 290 public libraries and service outlets,” said Julie Walker, deputy state librarian. “Based on the costs for individual systems to provide the same services offered by PINES, we estimate that it has saved the state a very impressive amount in its first decade.”

According to PINES Program Director Elizabeth McKinney, PINES has saved Georgia’s public libraries more than $11 million in one-time costs and, exclusive of staff salaries, nearly $61.5 million in ongoing costs since its inception.

From the start, the goal of PINES was to create a statewide, borderless library — one that eliminated geographic and socio-economic barriers and would provide equal access to information for all Georgians. The program went live at 98 libraries in 26 public library systems on Dec. 15, 1999, offering a shared catalog of approximately 1.8 million items. It achieved its largest annual growth in 2001, when 111 libraries in 16 systems were added. PINES issued its 1 millionth card in May 2003 and its 2 millionth card in November 2008.

Today, PINES is in use at 51 library systems across the state, and it covers 140 counties. It is the lifeblood of 281 libraries and service outlets. Together, participating PINES facilities offer citizens a shared catalog of more than 10 million items that can be accessed by a single library card that is welcomed by all.

McKinney pointed out that this year’s PINES User Satisfaction Survey delivered the program’s highest-ever satisfaction ratings. Better than 19 out of 20 respondents (95.6 percent) would recommend the PINES system to friends, with more than four out of five respondents (82.9 percent) using the catalog at least weekly to renew books online, place holds on books, determine fines or see what items they have checked out.

"As we reach the 10-year mark and see how the service has grown, it is gratifying to take a look back at some of the moments that helped define PINES," McKinney said. “PINES provided the first statewide library card in the world with a single bibliographic and patron database. We’ve gone from lending approximately 6,000 items in FY 2000 to nearly 600,000 in FY 2009, and we have shown the world a new model for cost savings through PINES' economy of scale.”

In 2004, PINES was officially designated an “elite cataloging group” by the Online Computer Library Center. In 2007, it received a $50,000 Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration in recognition of the development and release of the Evergreen open-source library automation system. And in May of this year, the PINES community co-hosted the inaugural Evergreen International Conference with 155 attendees from around the world.

“It is with great pride that we celebrate these milestones from our first decade with the millions of users who have either been with PINES since the beginning or who have joined when they were given the opportunity," said State Librarian Dr. Lamar Veatch.

To commemorate the start of PINES’ second decade, Georgia Public Library Service will introduce a new PINES logo this month. A variety of PINES-related events will take place during 2010, with the official birthday celebration set to coincide with the PINES annual meeting in Warner Robins on May 15.

A complete list of participating libraries and service outlets, along with the full PINES catalog, is available from workstations within all Georgia public libraries, as well as for users logging in from home, at gapines.org.

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