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$703,041 gift for New Brunswick libraries from Bill and Melinda Gates

Grant to increase access to computers and the Internet for library patrons

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Ellen Wright, Communications
Department of Municipalities
Phone: 506-444-5348
Carol Rava
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Phone: 206.709.3100

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick -- Thirty-six of New Brunswick's public libraries will benefit from a $703,041 gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Municipalities Minister Joan MacAlpine announced today. Separately, Microsoft Canada donates software with a retail value of more than $244,314 to all libraries receiving Foundation grants.

The grant is intended to increase technology access for people who would otherwise not have access to computers and the Internet. It will provide funding for 83 Internet workstations and the establishment of a regional training centre in each of the five public library regions. Staff training and technical support are also included.

"Thanks to Bill and Melinda Gates' generosity, our public libraries will soon be able to provide more access to technology and the Internet, particularly to those who need access the most," said MacAlpine, the Minister responsible for public libraries.

According to a July 1999 Statistics Canada study, individuals in the highest-income households are nearly five times more likely to regularly access the Internet than those in the lowest-income households. The goal of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is to partner with public libraries across North America to provide access to technology for everyone, regardless of race, age or income.

Foundation grants are targeted toward libraries that serve low-income communities in Canada and the United States. Canadian libraries serving populations where 17.6 per cent or more of the population live in poverty are eligible. Figures were based on the Poverty Profile 1996 report issued by the National Council of Welfare.

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