February 22, 2001
Director, Communications & Public Information
Gates Foundation Accepts Massachusetts Grant Application
BOSTON: The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) is pleased to announce that the U.S. Library Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has accepted its application for the fourth and final round of technology grants to state library agencies. Grants will be awarded and computers installed in libraries in Massachusetts, along with 15 other states, from summer 2002 through fall 2003.
"We are excited to have Massachusetts be a part of this final phase of what has been a tremendous effort to help bridge the Digital Divide", said Lieutenant Governor Jane Swift. "Governor Cellucci and I strongly support our public libraries and we are pleased to see them benefit from the generosity of the Gates Foundation."
"Public libraries that serve communities of more than 10 percent poverty and have not previously been eligible for a grant from the foundation will be invited to participate,", said Keith Michael Fiels, MBLC Director. "We anticipate that more than 100 libraries throughout the Commonwealth will be able to apply for these grants to support expanding public access to computers, the Internet and digital information in libraries that serve low-income communities."
Under the program, these libraries will receive computers, networking equipment, and telecommunications services for Internet access. The grants also provide training and technical support to library staff; covering topics from network administration, computer and Internet applications, and computer systems management." In addition to the cash grant, the donation from the foundation includes Internet access, training and a separate gift of software from the Microsoft Corporation. Fiels estimates that the total value of the Gates Grant for Massachusetts' libraries will be approximately $2.2 million.
Edward Bertorelli, Chairman of the Board of Library Commissioners, expressed his pleasure at news of the Gates Foundation grant. "We are thankful to the Gates Foundation for their commitment to libraries. This is the most significant single philanthropic investment in libraries since Andrew Carnegie built hundreds of library buildings at the turn of the century."
Started in 1997, the U.S. Library Program was Bill and Melinda Gates' first major philanthropic venture. Since that time the program has made grants to more than 5,800 libraries in the United States, installed more than 25,000 PCs and trained 7,000 librarians. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to improving people's lives by sharing advances in health and learning with the global community. Led by Bill Gates' father, William H. Gates, Sr., and Patty Stonesifer, the Seattle-based foundation has an asset base of $21 billion. For complete information visit www.gatesfoundation.org.
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.