October 1, 2002
Director, Communications & Public Information
Massachusetts libraries to receive 484 computers, training to
increase the public's access to technology
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gives more than $1.6 million so residents of the Commonwealth in low-income communities can access digital information free of charge
Boston - Governor Jane Swift today announced that Massachusetts public libraries have received more than $1.6 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide public libraries in Massachusetts 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.
"With this extraordinary gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the people of Massachusetts we will be able to increase and update the number of computers in our public libraries and better meet the increased demand for public access to the Internet," said Governor Swift. "I want to thank the Gates Foundation for their generosity to the citizens of the Commonwealth."
Massachusetts 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 107 of the state's public libraries, branches or regional library systems will be receiving grants.
"These grants will help the libraries receiving them meet the increasing need for access to computers and electronic information provided by libraries, especially for those who are least able to afford to own a computer and who stand to gain the most from having free access," said Commissioner Joseph S. Hopkins, Chairman, of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
"Massachusetts libraries are committed to bridging the gap between those who have access to technology and those who do not," said Sylvia Matthews, chief operating officer of the foundation and executive director of the library program. "We are pleased to be a partner with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in bringing these tools to communities across the Commonwealth."
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 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (www.gatesfoundation.org) 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 endowment of approximately $24 billion.
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.