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California Public Libraries to receive $11 million grant from Bill and Melinda Gates

Gates Learning Foundation funds will be used to provide access to digital information for library patrons in low-income communities

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Robert Daseler
California State Library
Phone: 916.654.0108

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California State libraries will soon be able to expand access to computers and the Internet for library patrons in low-income communities thanks to a grant from the Gates Learning Foundation, one of two philanthropic foundations created by Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates. The Gates Learning Foundation will distribute more than $11 million to purchase computers, Internet access and training for public libraries in under-served communities throughout California.

Separately, Microsoft Corporation will donate software with an estimated value of $8 million to libraries receiving Foundation grants.

"The work of the Foundation is to bridge the technology gap by providing better access to information," said Richard Akeroyd, executive director of the Gates Library Initiative. "The concern is that the disadvantaged will slip further and further behind, creating what has been called 'the digital divide' and that children growing up in poverty will be ill equipped to work and learn in the next century."

The funds for new equipment are specifically earmarked for libraries serving communities with significant poverty. Over 500 public libraries in the state will be eligible to apply for funding. The Foundation will supply up to seven computers, and associated printers and networking equipment in each library, depending on the library's size, and three years of technical support and training for library staff.

Dr. Kevin Starr, California State Librarian said, "Our goal is to ensure information of all kinds is readily available to all of California's citizens. This wonderful gift from Bill and Melinda Gates will make certain that no Californian finds himself or herself on the wrong side of the digital divide. Not since Andrew Carnegie has there been such a dramatic intervention by the private sector into public library development."

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