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Gates Library Foundation distributes new 1998 grant applications

12 more states eligible for state partnerships

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
206-709-3400
Carol Rava
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Phone: 206.709.3100
Email: media@gatesfoundation.org

REDMOND, Wash. -- The Gates Library Foundation today announced that applications for the second round of grants have been distributed to the state library agencies of Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

These states were selected as the next candidates for grants due to their poverty levels as determined by the 1990 U.S. Census. Current applications are due on October 7, 1998; each state will be evaluated for technological readiness, commitment to sustainability over time and commitment to establishing programs for reaching people who do not otherwise have access to computers and the Internet. Implementation is planned to begin in the summer of 1999.

"In the Foundation's first year, we learned that partnering with state libraries is the most effective way to reach our goal of bringing access to computers, the Internet, and digital information to library patrons in low-income communities," said Richard Akeroyd, director of library programs at the Gates Library Foundation. "State library leaders are able to help us assess need and identify gaps in service most efficiently. Statewide implementation has enabled the Foundation to execute the grant program efficiently by providing equipment, training and technical assistance to the public libraries within granted states."

As a result of the lessons learned by the first round of grants the Foundation has decided to restructure the entire grant program, including eligibility criteria for state and individual library applications. The previous Urban Library Leadership and Opportunity grant categories will be folded into a single new program called the State Partnership Grant Initiative.

Eligibility for individual public library buildings is based upon a poverty threshold of 10 percent or higher, based on U.S. Census Department data for 1990. Those libraries meeting this poverty standard will be eligible to apply for a grant.

Through State Partnership Grants, the Foundation provides grants to all eligible public library buildings serving low-income communities to purchase computer and networking equipment and to install telecommunications services for Internet access. The grants also provide training and technical support to selected library staff in network administration, computer and Internet applications, computer systems management, and train-the-trainer models for applications in on-going staff and patron training classes.

"With our work in Alabama complete, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia underway, and a new round of grant applications in place, we are on pace to meet our goal of reaching public libraries in all 50 states by 2001," said Akeroyd.

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