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Oregon Libraries to Receive 570 Computers – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gives more than $2.1 million so Oregonians in low-income communities can access digital information free of charge

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
206-709-3400
Jim Scheppke
Oregon State Library
Phone 503.378.4367
Email: jim.b.scheppke@state.or.us

SALEM, Ore. -- Oregon State Librarian Jim Scheppke today announced that Oregon public libraries have received more than $2.1 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide public libraries in Oregon with computers, Internet access and technical training.

The grants are part of the foundation’s U.S. Library Program, which is working with public libraries to give low-income patrons access to computers, the Internet and digital information in communities throughout the United States.

“Four out of ten Oregon households do not have access to the Internet,” said Scheppke.  “With this extraordinary gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation we will be able to increase the number of computers in our public libraries by about 40 percent and better meet the demand for public access to the Internet.”

Oregon public libraries and branches that serve communities at or above the 10 percent poverty level, as determined by the 1990 U.S. Census, were eligible to apply for grants to purchase hardware, telecommunications upgrades, training and technical assistance. A total of 174 of the state’s public libraries will be receiving grants.

“Oregon libraries are committed to bridging the gap between those who have access to technology and the Internet and those who do not,” said Sylvia M. Mathews, chief operating officer of the foundation and executive director of the library program. “We are pleased to be a partner with the State Library in bringing these tools to communities across the state.”
 
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $250 million to public libraries nationwide to give all people access to digital information. By the end of 2003, it expects to have provided 40,000 computers to nearly 10,000 libraries in all 50 states.

The Oregon State Library (www.osl.state.or.us/home/index.html) provides leadership, grants and other assistance to improve local library service for all Oregonians.

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