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Public Information and Communication

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 1996

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Mary Jo Ryan,
402-471-3434, 800-307-2665

John Pinette Microsoft, 206-882-8080

Nebraska Library Commission Receives Grant as part of Microsoft National Initiative

Libraries Online! Program Provides Internet and Multimedia Computing to 41 Library Systems

Lincoln NE-The Nebraska Library Commission announced that it will receive a grant from the Microsoft Corporation, as part of a program to bring public access to the Internet and to multimedia personal computers. Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates announced the national launch of Libraries Online!, a $10.5 million philanthropic initiative to help library systems in economically disadvantaged communities nationwide.

Based on the success of a pilot program begun last year with the American Library Association (ALA), Microsoft is contributing financial and technical assistance and software to a total of 41 library systems in the U.S. and Canada, bringing the number of communities served to 215 (list attached). The Nebraska Library Commission is one of the grant recipients. Through this partnership project, the Library Commission will expand the capacity of Nebraska's public libraries to provide public access to the Internet and other electronic information (including government information) by equipping 10 to 15 libraries with state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line multimedia information technology resources and improving local connectivity so libraries can promote effective use and diffusion of information technology in their communities.

Rural Nebraskans, especially those without Internet connections at home or at work, are disadvantaged by the rapid changes in information technology and inadequate funding for their community library to keep up. Communities will be chosen in collaboration with partners on the state and local level. Criteria for library demonstration sites will be developed in cooperation with the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, Nebraska's Regional Library Systems, and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development's Governor's Global Community Initiative Project, Nebraska Development Network, and Nebraska Rural Development Commission,. Community library selection will be based on library staff activity to address local community information technology needs and community potential for development, as well as level of need.

"We are very pleased that Microsoft has selected the Nebraska Library Commission to receive this grant," said Rod Wagner, Library Commission Director. " The Libraries Online! grant will enable the Library Commission to provide computer hardware, software and technical assistance to a selected number of rural public libraries. The Commission will work with our state and local level partners to identify and select communities for the project.

The Microsoft grant will provide cash, software, technical training and support to Nebraska libraries with an estimated value of $125,000 ($50,000 from Microsoft, matching funds to be identified). Libraries Online! will enable library customers to access the world of information available on the Internet through the World Wide Web and to have multimedia PCs at their disposal for word processing, spread sheets, presentation and graphic design, CD-ROM titles and other software. The Library Commission will support local library staff in offering training and education for new computer users. The computers are expected to be available by March 1997 for public use.

"Through Libraries Online!, we have seen children, parents, teachers, entrepreneurs and entire communities gain access to a world of technology and information that simply was unavailable to them before," Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates said. "Today's national launch builds on our vision of information at your fingers by empowering people with access to the Internet and the World Wide Web. Libraries will play a pivotal role as we enter the 21st Century in providing access to knowledge and opportunities for everyone." Success of the pilot program has led to a roll-out of the nationwide program. Begun as a pilot project in October 1995, Libraries Online! was started with financial grants and software from Microsoft to libraries in nine economically disadvantaged rural and urban communities. During the pilot project, ALA conducted an evaluation and found that Libraries Online! technology is being used at maximum capacity and positively impacting the lives of library patrons. Users include recent immigrants seeking job opportunities, displaced workers, small business owners, students and families.

"Microsoft recognized early on the value of the public library in America and worked with ALA to demonstrate thoughtful leadership in addressing the issue of access to the Internet," said Elizabeth Martinez, Executive Director of ALA. "We are delighted with the success of our Libraries Online! pilot program. The immediate goal for ALA is to refine the program models and provide information and training to all people, regardless of their age, background or ability to pay. Today, access to electronic information is not a luxury -- it's a necessity."

Other library systems receiving grants this year from Microsoft are attached. ALA will continue to administer the program. Technical support and training for Libraries Online! will be provided by the Technology Resource Institute for Public Libraries of the Urban Libraries Council, an association of large public libraries and corporations with the common mission of helping libraries best serve the public through problem solving, understanding new opportunities and conducting applied research.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. "Bringing together people and information," the mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development and coordination of library and information services.

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Its mission is to advocate the public's right to a free and open information society and the highest quality library and information services. The association's 58,000 members are primarily librarians but also trustees, publishers and other library supports.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Home Page. Point your World Wide Web browser to http://nlc.nebraska.gov/.

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Other library systems receiving grants this year from Microsoft include:

Queens Borough Public Library (New York), Elizabeth Public Library (Elizabeth, NJ), Boston Public Library, Miami-Dade County Public Library, Chicago Public Library, San Francisco Public Library, Kansas City Public Library (Kansas City, MO), St. Louis Public Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Minneapolis Public Library, San Antonio Public Library, Connecticut State Library, Oakland Public Library, Phoenix Public Library, St. Paul Public Library (St. Paul, MN), Hartford Public Library, Macon County Public Library (Tuskegee, AL), King County Library System (Bellevue, WA), Central Arkansas Library System (Little Rock, AR), Wicomico County Public Library (Eastern Maryland), Cherokee Tribal Library (Tahlequah, OK), Multnomah County Library (Portland, OR), York County Library System of Pennsylvania, Richland County Public Library (Columbia, SC),Memphis-Shelby County Public Library (Memphis, TN), Utah State Library, Nisqually Tribal Library (Olympia, WA), Timberland Regional Library (Southwestern Washington state). Canadian sites include: Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

Microsoft is also building on its initial $4.4 million pilot project by providing additional funding to the nine original participating library systems to expand their programs. These nine systems include:

Brooklyn Public Library, Baltimore County Public Library, Charlotte-Mecklenberg County Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library, Mississippi Library Commission, Pend Oreille County Public Library (Eastern Washington state), Seattle Public Library, South Dakota State Library and the Tucson-Pima County Library.


For more information, contact Mary Jo Ryan.